Shop with Cops & Caring Community Heroes at Target 2017

Our Police Department has participated in an event called “Shop with a Cop” for many years where members of the department along with community volunteers take kids shopping to buy holiday presents for their families.  The kids are from families who are facing challenges selected from the caseload of Pontiac Youth Assistance.

Us cops – we get a lot of credit for this event.  We are the most visible in our pressed uniforms with our shiny badges.  The truth is, our part was easy.  Just volunteering a little of our time.  The real credit for the success of this type of event should go elsewhere.  Like RGIS, a business on Taylor Road in our city who without hesitation gave me a very large check to help fund this event.  Also, the Auburn Hills Target Team – Tanner, Julie, John, who made the planning so easy, organized snacks for the kids, and helped us wrap all the newly bought presents.  Target Corporation funded the remaining portion of the event and is always willing to give back to the community.  The members and volunteers of Pontiac Youth Assistance (Anna, Melvin, Brent, Eugene, Thomas, Veronica, Toni… too many to list!) who organized basically everything else – this would not have happened without them.

There are a lot of these types of events out there, some big, some small.  But ours, is a little different.  It only works because of the many community partnerships we have developed over the years.  It’s a smaller event, with usually only about 15-20 youths, but that makes it unique, personal, and impactful. We do it for the kid’s happiness.

This year, the event was a great success.  We had 15 youths, a great team of support volunteers from Pontiac Youth Assistance, several officers and even Chief Olko who hasn’t missed the event for years.  We also had a very supportive team from our Brown Road Target Store.  We were able to raise enough money that each youth had $200.00 to spend on their loved ones.

When you watch some of the things these kids choose to purchase, it really puts things in perspective.  Dish Soap.  I saw dish soap in one cart.  It made me realize how lucky I am, and how much work we still have to do.

Normally, we restrict the purchases to be for family members of the kids only.  This year, due to the generosity of our donors, we were able to surprise the kids and allow them to buy a nice gift for themselves.  It was very exciting for many of them to have the chance to pick out anything they wanted.  By watching them do it, I am guessing they don’t get that chance often.

I am excited that Chief Olko has passed-the-torch, so to say, of this event to me now.  She has developed it into something great over the years, and I intend to continue that legacy.

Brian Miller

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Officer Hodges Receives a Surprising Thank You from a Person He Arrested

Just before Thanksgiving we received an interesting delivery at the station for Officer Ian Hodges.  It was simply dropped off with very little fanfare.  Ian wasn’t working so my assistant Quentessa took custody of the box and when she checked inside she found this very interesting glass plaque award.  It was clearly expensive and very well designed. It said: “In Recognition of Officer Hodges.” “We thank you and D20171201_132911.jpgeeply Appreciate Your Service in Keeping Our Community Safe!” The box contained a photo of a family and on the back was a note:

On Sept 6th you pulled me over for drunk driving with a BAC of 0.21.  I am thankful that you got to me before I caused harm or death to someone. I read about another person on the same road and same BAC that will spend 25 years in prison for killing a mother. The only difference between him and me is your service.  Thank you.

The sender signed it from himself and his family.

Officer Hodges was quite surprised and when he saw the name he remembered the case.  Ian is in his second year as an officer.  He understands his role is in keeping our roads safe and why it is important to hold impaired drivers accountable for their choice to drink and drive.  It isn’t always easy to do.  Some people fight or try to escape.  Often people who are driving drunk tell the officers that the arrest will ruin their lives as they beg the officers to let them go.

I am certain that Officer Hodges will remember this case for the rest of his life – the award is a tangible message that this particular driver came to understand that his arrest saved his life or someone else’s.  He now recognizes how close he came to losing the lovely family whose picture he sent.

Every now and then we hear from those people out there who are our critics and want to believe that traffic enforcement is a big money grab or that we are just picking on people.  They are entitled to their opinion. We know, however, the pain and suffering caused by drunk and drugged driving crashes.  We are the ones who deliver death messages in the middle of the night to unsuspecting families.  We are the ones who are  witness to mangled bodies on the road or helping the Fire Department cut people from the twisted metal hoping to save their lives so that they too can have an opportunity to recognize the error of their ways and change their lives for the better.

Officer Hodges is happy for this man and proud that he was part of what he hopes is a positive change in this man’s life.

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Sergeant Stubbs and Officer Ian Hodges with his award

 

 

 

Another Case of Children in a Car with a Passed Out Parent

We had 2 unscheduled visitors to our Investigations Bureau today.  Good thing we have high quality detective/parents who knew just what to do.  They were with their mother who passed out in a store parking lot this morning and when passers-by couldn’t awaken her, they called 911.  She went to the hospital and Officer Jayson VanLandeghem brought the kids here.  Officer Bryan Chubb set about finding a relative (which he did) and in the meantime called Child Protective Services who sent a worker to investigate.

Detective Peters, an outstanding investigator, used his finely-honed skills to figure out that they might enjoy watching Paw Patrol on his computer (one of the kids was wearing Paw Patrol shoes).  Detective Brown volunteered to do diaper changing duty.

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Peters bought McDonald’s for lunch. Investigations is looking somewhat like a playroom. 

 

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Watching Paw Patrol

Officer Brian Miller got a look at the car seats the kids were using.  As a car seat technician, he determined these seats were, well, “extremely used” and expired.  So he used the last 2 car seats in our department stash which were donated by our partners at Brose.  (Hint: we welcome cash donations for new seats – sorry can’t take used ones) We use them for just this kind of situation.

Dirty Seat

The old seat

Seat2

The new owner seems pretty interested in her new seat. 

So they spent several hours with us and visiting around the station.  Good news! The stuffed animals we have on hand fit very well in the empty gun lockers.  Who knew that those lockers could be so much fun?

Seat3

Somebody at the state and federal government level has got to do something about this problem.  This shouldn’t be happening.

Guest Blogger, Officer Brian Miller on the 2017 AHPD Citizen Academy

When Chief Olko approached me about hosting and planning our 2017 Citizen Police Academy,  I was excited to be able to finally show our citizens what the Auburn Hills Police do – and why.  To destroy the myths about policing and give an in-depth view of the realities of policing.

The Academy started in September with 18 participants who committed to attend 8 successive Thursday evening classes.  These participants ranged vastly in everything from their ages to their backgrounds.  The one thing everyone had in common was that each and every person had an obvious passion to learn about the Auburn Hills Police.

We brought participants through the life of an Auburn Hills Police Officer from our initial in-house training to our specialized assignments.  They learned about things ranging from fatal crash investigations and evidence processing to the police use of force.  We made sure to keep the lessons interesting by using in-depth case studies (true cases out of our PD) and hands-on training.  The final culmination of all this information was a night at the Auburn Hills Oakland Community College CREST Center training facility.  This is where the participants put their knowledge to the test in scenario training using “Simunition” weapons (like a more advanced version of a paintball gun).  They experienced the decision making process with shoot / don’t shoot scenarios with our use of force training team.  I give that team a lot of credit because we found a few of our participants had “itchy trigger fingers” and those rounds hurt!

As I was planning the content of the Academy, which admittedly I could never have done without the help of the many members of the PD who reached out to offer help, I had one statement in my mind from Pastor Cal, a local church pastor who attended the academy. He asked a friend of his in the department “will this be worth my time?”  I wanted to make sure it would be and, in hindsight – per the good Pastor himself – it was.

I wanted the participants to enjoy their experience and learn about the Police Department I have grown to be so proud of.  I knew we had accomplished these objectives on week 8 during our graduation dinner when one of our participants told me that going through this Academy and seeing how our officers do business, made her “proud to be an Auburn Hills resident, and even more proud of our Police Department.”

Although the Academy is over for this year, I know that we hit our mark and beyond.  Participants realized they were part of something bigger and many of them expressed they would like to continue their relationship with our department by volunteering in some way (even if it meant being the target next year at the CREST!).  I expected that those who participated would learn something and have a good time, but was surprised by how many would identify with us so well and want to continue this legacy of community partnership.  I look forward for the opportunity to continue this program, but for now take a look at these action shots of our 2017 Citizen Police Academy!

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No Shave Movember

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Officer Scott Smith without a shave

November has been declared “No Shave Movember” for Auburn Hills Police and Fire.  For the last several years we have deviated from our strict appearance rules to allow beards for this month only to raise funds for men’s health .  Our charity is the Movember Foundation which supports men’s 

health initiatives.   Prostate cancer  and  testicular cancer take the lives of too many men, too soon.  And 3 of 4 suicides in the US are men.  More can be done to address these important male issues.  Movember brings attention and raises money for the cause.

Our women officers and staffers in support of our husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers, sons, colleagues, friends and co workers are wearing a blue stripe in our hair for a donation this month only.

We will be posting pictures on our Facebook and Twitter accounts of how the beard and stripe action is going.  If you get a photo with one of our people post it to show support.  If you are moved to donate the link above will take you to our team page.

Optimists Honor Crossing Guard Tamera Eddington as Police Employee of the Year

The Morning Optimist Club of Auburn Hills has been honoring police officers annually for

Tamera

many, many years.  This year they asked us to include other police employees for consideration.  Our School Resource Officer Brian Miller seized the opportunity and nominated our Adult Crossing Guard, Tamera Eddington.  The club selected Tamera and honored her today at their meeting with a plaque.  She will also be recognized at the City Council meeting Monday evening.

You may have seen Tamera at her post on Walton at Dexter with her stop sign.  She is there twice daily to help kids arrive safely at Will Rogers School .  She has been there for 14 years–an incredible record.  She can be counted on rain or shine, snow or sleet.

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You may have seen her walking or riding her bike to work.    After she completes her morning shift on the post she leaves to got to a second job at Art Van, some distance away,  then back to the post for the afternoon shift.  Once Officer Miller realized that she was without a car and without the funds to buy one, he moved into action and has been raising funds from city employees to buy her a car.  It is going pretty well – he is already above his goal.  He is planning to help her shop for the car as well since she is concerned about her skills at finding a good, reliable car.  Despite the challenge of getting to that very important post every day without a car, she never complains or misses work.

She told me on the way to the meeting this morning that she applied for the job because her son, who was an elementary student at the time, told her that the school needed a crossing guard.  He is all grown up now, complete with advanced college degrees and a just-started-job as an academic advisor at Oakland University.  Her equally academically accomplished daughter was there with her son-in-law and grandson  who drove from Novi early this morning to join her for this honor.  It was clear to us that although they want to do more to help their mom, as newly minted professionals they don’t yet have financial basics to get it done themselves.

Knowing Tamera, it is so very appropriate that she is honored by the Optimists – she is clearly one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever met — always smiling, always upbeat.

Next time you drive by her post, wave and give her a thumbs up to thank her for her commitment to the children of this community.

 

Is Mackinac Island the 5th most violent city in Michigan????

M-Live just published an article that points out an interesting “statistical anomaly.”  And it is true not just on Mackinac Island but also other places – like Auburn Hills.

As the police chief here I will tell you that by and large Auburn Hills is a very safe community.  Surveys done by the city in the past year tell us that both the residential and commercial community members feel safe – and they should.  It is a very safe community.

However, if one calculates the crime rate using our residential population, it is not favorable.  And for the same reason as Mackinac Island:  our residential population is very low compared to the population of people who come here to work or visit.   City officials estimate that our population swells to nearly 100,000 people daily between work, school and recreation from a night time population of about 22,000.

The FBI discourages the use of crime rate calculations to rank cities but media sources continue to do it.  Many cities like to tout those statistical rankings when they are favorable.

Here is the article:

Statistical Anomaly Ranks Mackinac Island One of the Most Dangerous Cities 

Guest Blogger: Sgt Scott McGraw on his experience at MSU Police Staff and Command

I am proud of our personnel.  They are an exceptional group of police professionals  who are highly motivated to be the best and welcome opportunities to improve themselves to the benefit of our agency and the community.  We give constant consideration to how we can grow our people in such a way as to maintain the service level this community has come to expect.  Higher education is one way to do that.

Staff and Command is a real growth opportunity for our command officers.  They learn to see policing from a higher view and understand more about its impact on safe communities.  Sgt McGraw attended earlier this year and after I saw his final class presentation on video I asked him to write about his experience.  You can see his final presentation at the end of this blog.

Hello,

My name is Scott McGraw; I have been employed with the Auburn Hills City Policepic1 Department since 2003. I promoted to Sergeant in 2013. I have had the pleasure of growing professionally with the police department since I graduated the academy. I have experienced a great deal in the police department. I trained as a bicycle officer, evidence technician, honor guard member and field-training officer. I have worked on every shift, I worked in the retail district investigating retail crimes, and I worked in the Directed Patrol Unit, prior to my promotion. As a Sergeant, I currently supervise the Alpha platoon on day shift along with overseeing the patrol vehicle fleet. Last winter, I was accepted into the Michigan State University School of Staff and Command.  As the guest blogger, I would like to walk you through my experiences while attending the MSU Staff and Command school.

Through my fourteen years at the police department, I have watched my predecessors go through the Staff and Command school. The entire time saying to myself, “wow that looks like a ton of work.” On January 2, 2017, I found out that my observations were accurate. The class is 6 months long, it requires a week of distance learning and the next week was in class at the MSP Training Academy building in Lansing (2 weeks of class, 2 weeks back at work). The commitment to the class extends to your home life as well. Many times, I was in class all week in Lansing and then came back to work the weekend. In my opinion, the sacrifice was worth it.

The class is not set up in the traditional learning style of lectures and tests. It is set up as peer teaching and problem based learning style. I was placed on a team with a mixture of personalities and learning styles. The facilitators do this to help with your leadership abilities and social skills. Fortunately, I was placed with a team that clicked after our first team-building project. Not really knowing what to expect, I went into the first week expecting to have a great deal of knowledge bestowed upon me. To my surprise, the first week was set up to helped improve our public speaking skills and learn how to complete the PBL (Problem Based Learning) process. A simple explanation of the PBL process is, identifying a specific problem with a statement, brainstorming some possible solutions, listing knowns/unknowns about the problem, doing research to make the unknowns, knowns and then selecting the best possible solution to the problem.

To be completely honest, as a newer Sergeant, it was intimidating to be in the class with Captains, Lieutenants, not forgetting to mention, one of the facilitators is a Lieutenant Colonel with the Michigan State Police. As that first week went by, I realized that we were all on the same level playing field and our rank went out the door. What I was good at, others were not and what others were good at, I was not. We learned from each other and became comfortable with each other.

During the first week project, I learned more about this city and department than my previous 14 years of employment. I also figured out how to create a blog, something I had never done. As the class progressed, I started to see a pattern to the projects, each week builds from the previous week. A lesson I learned quickly, was that police work and crime statistics are not easy to create consistently in any police department. I was very fortunate to have the knowledge on how to use the CLEMIS system and Omega Dashboard (for more information on CLEMIS https://www.oakgov.com/clemis).  This was something many of my other classmates did not have.

The facilitators give little guidance and direction throughout the class. The reason being, is they want to see your ability to follow written directions and lead your team down the right path. If the team gets off the path, do not expect the facilitator to push you back, you will need to self-correct. A couple teams had to recreate projects because they did not follow the directions given.

Each week my facilitator evaluated each member of the team with a rubric evaluation that specifies what the expectations are for the corresponding achievable score.  According to my personality profile test that I took in the first week of class, I like having clear expectations and the rubric evaluations have clearly defined expectations.

The hardest week during the course was week 5. The project for week 5 was the grant application. I had to look for a grant that would address a problem in my agency’s community. The class was given a list of grant solicitations to choose from. I was able to find one that fit what Chief Olko already had been planning. As I said before, each project builds from the previous. In the previous weeks, I found that my agency had committed to the ‘One Mind Campaign’ organized by the IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police, http://www.theiacp.org/onemindcampaign). Our agency is the only one in the state of Michigan to take the pledge and was one of the first of the 174 agencies. If you do not know, the ‘One Mind Campaign’ has four strategies or objectives the agency has to meet to complete the pledge. First, an agency has to collaborate with a mental health partner. Second, create a policy on Responding to Persons Affected by Mental Illness or in Crisis (a policy AHPD has had since 2015). Third, train 100% of our first responders with Mental Health First Aid training. Fourth, train 20% of our first responders in Crisis Intervention Team training. With that said, the easy part was over, now I had to put together a simulated application to receive funds from the grant. My final project ended up being 11 documents and my application paper was 10 pages. I gained a large amount of respect for those who apply for grants and I now have the knowledge of how to do it in the future.

The culmination of the class is to create a strategic plan for your department by selecting two organizational goals. The final paper had to be 20 pages maximum and had other requirements that made it difficult to keep to only 20 pages. The goals that I created were, “Improve the City of Auburn Hills Police Officer response to persons affected by mental illness” and “Continue to develop community partnerships while improving communication and becoming more involved with the citizens of Auburn Hills, in an effort to reduce crime and enhance quality of life.”

The last assignment for the class was a 10-minute maximum power point presentation for my 20-page paper. How do you fit 20 pages of planning into 10 minutes? You cannot. I do not claim to be the best public speaker… the proof is on the video… but I made it work.

In closing, I cannot stress how valuable the class was for me. I learned how; to use reflective learning, use the PBL process, read a budget worksheet, apply for grant funding, create a blog, build a policy, create a strategic plan and the list goes on. It certainly broadened my perspective on management and leadership and I created lasting friendships and networking channels with classmates. Thank you for your time, I hope that you enjoy my video and learn something about our department and the MSU Staff and Command class.