Today is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. People all across the country are taking a moment to thank cops for their daily work. Here at the AHPD we are grateful that many members of our community have recognized our efforts throughout the year not just on one day. If you follow our Facebook page we post our thanks to folks who stop in to see us. One we missed over the holidays is to publicly say thank you to the Auburn Hills Christian Center. For the 2nd or 3rd year in a row, they have brought us goody bags of food on Christmas Eve knowing that we are away from our families during that time. Their faithfulness in remembering us is very touching and we are grateful to Pastor Cal Garcia and the kind staff of the church.
In the national narrative of distrust of police, the relationship of most communities to their police departments can get lost. In fact, we work hard to build and maintain a strong relationship to the members of our community. How? Our personnel see their role as community helper, not just law enforcer. Here is an example: at the end of last week we received a call that a man was living in a home without electricity. Sgt Scott McGraw later gave us an update:
We were sent to the above address yesterday regarding the elderly owner not having electricity in the home. Senior Services and the Building Official were also involved prior to our involvement. Ofc. Iacobelli and Ofc. Willour went out to the address and checked on Garry S. They found he was using propane space heaters to heat his kitchen area. He uses a generator to power the furnace on cold days. They also found that he has been doing this since 2011. If you are imagining a hoarder home, Garry is the opposite, he is neat and orderly. The Building Official issued a notice for Garry’s home that stated it was not safe for human occupancy late Friday afternoon. Ofc. Hodges served the notice and put it on his door.
Today, Ofc. Iacobelli and I went back out to speak with Garry. When we arrived he had the generator running in the garage and the furnace on, heating the house. Upon speaking with him it sounds like he had switched some meters in 2011 when his father passed away and DTE shut off his meter. He then took the meter off his house and DTE thought he stole it and cut the wires at the road. Garry said he sent a letter to DTE but never heard back from them. He never followed up on it and has just settled on living without electricity. As you can tell he is a bit stubborn and/or has some mental problems. DTE sent his overdue bill to collections and he has refused to pay the money because he doesn’t feel he owes that amount. We explained that if he doesn’t get electricity then he will lose his home. He asked if I could call DTE, so I did on his behalf.
After speaking with DTE, Garry will be getting new service starting on January 10th (Tuesday). They are going to come out and install a new meter and make sure his house is set up to receive electricity. At that time they are going to set a date on hooking up the wires to the pole. The only way I could get DTE to do this is to give them a telephone number for the service truck to call and Garry does not have a phone either. I had to give them the Sgt. Cell #1 number to call when they were going to be on the way. Someone has to answer the phone for them to come out. Garry said he isn’t going anywhere on Tuesday and will be there all day. So, whom ever has Sgt. Cell #1 please answer the phone so Garry can get electricity.
He is 74 years old and very set in his ways. He did showed us his ability to pay his consumers bill and other bills he has. He is just not going to pay the $800 to the collection agency. He also agreed that he will pay any future bills from DTE. When I gave him the news that he was going to get electricity back, he was very appreciative of our efforts. Ofc. Iacobelli or I will be following up to see if she can assist in getting him phone service after the electricity is restored.
Maybe you think of us a crime fighters – and we are. But we are also community problem solvers for those who can’t solve problems for themselves. Sgt McGraw and his officers could have posted the notice and walked away creating a bigger set of problems for Gary. But that isn’t what they chose to do. No crime statistic though – so if you are a person who is measuring us by crime statistics, this won’t show up. But we still consider this valuable work.
So if you see one of our officers today, it would go a long way for you to shake their hand and recognize their work and what it contributes to our community.