Were You a Victim of Identity Theft?

We are having a rash of identity theft cases where a person’s identity was used to file a Image result for identity theftclaim for unemployment.  It is incredibly common – even police chiefs I know are reporting that it happened to them.  Soon we will be taking reports of cases where identities were stolen to file a tax return and take the refund.  Where did they get your information?  One of hundreds and hundreds of intrusions the  largest being the Experian hack last year.   I think there is much more that companies can do to secure our private information – but getting them to do it is problematic.

We have limited ability to affect these cases but we do suggest that you can find help at the Bureau of Consumer Protection.  They allow you to report, give you some ideas on how to remedy the problem and steps to take for the future.

You can find them here:  https://www.identitytheft.gov/

Proud to Have 2 New DRE Officers!

We are very pleased to announce that two of our officers are newly trained Drug Recognition Experts!  Officers Riedy and Sears completed 72 hours of classroom training and will now head to the 3rd phase of the program which is a field practical in Phoenix testing drugged people in the Maricopa County Jail.  All of the training, including the practical is funded by a grant from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (thanks, Director Mike Prince!).  Although Michigan was one of the very last states to adopt this 30 year old program (#48 out of 50), we are going strong now.  Detective Jeramey Peters was instrumental in convincing State Police officials to adopt this program.  (He is in the 2nd row, 2nd from right above)  His efforts were recognized by MADD in 2017 with a special award.

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Officer Riedy and Officer Sears

This is important because we are seeing increasing numbers of incidents of impaired driving and crashes due to impaired drivers – a 13.65% increase in 2017 over 2016.  Just when I thought I had seen it all – I am still surprised how often we are arresting impaired drivers during the daytime hours – something that wasn’t very common when I was an officer – and they are impaired by illegal or even prescribed drugs (pay attention to those warning labels.)  As a result, we have had to step up our game to detect drugged drivers which is what DRE allows us to do.

Becoming a DRE is difficult and challenging (as it should be) but Peters let us know that Riedy and Sears did very well in the academic aspect.  Knowing them, we look for them to do equally well in the practical testing.  Their work will make the roads of our community safer.

Here is the moral of the story:  Don’t drive impaired in Auburn Hills – we will find you.  

The Problem of Cyber Crimes Reporting

I just had a conversation with Sgt Rick Leonard this morning on this very issue.  He was telling me his concerns about the reports of unemployment insurance identity fraud cases that are rampant right now.  They will shortly be followed by the tax return fraud cases.  He is concerned because we have no way to investigate these cases.  The victims need the reports from their local police but that means we will have to carry crime statistics for reports we have no ability to affect.  Some communities just refuse to take the reports because it impacts their “reported crime” statistics by which the media measures effectiveness of police.  I know the victims need these reports so I want us to take them.  Even when it makes our community appear to have more crime.

In the case of the unemployment insurance we are hearing unofficially that there is one person at the state investigating these cases.  It is likely that the information about individuals used to file these fraudulent reports was released in one of the many, many database hacks that have happened over the past few years.

The crime reporting system nationally is unable to adequately address the questions raised by this kind of crime.  We don’t know how much of it there is (lots) or any other facts and patterns which could help lawmakers and investigators design effective disruption strategies and tactics.  We do know that much of it is international, yet a further complication.

This article give the point of view of local police chiefs on this important topic.

Frigid Temperatures Can Be Deadly to the Frail and Elderly – Guest Blogger Karen Adcock

Our colleague, Karen Adcock, of Senior Services asked me to share information with you about looking out for others during these severe cold temperatures: 

This morning the news reported the tragic deaths of 2 older adults found outside in this horrible cold.

Why they were outside we might never know, but it’s a huge wake-up call for all of us to check on our older family members, friends and neighbors. What can you do?

  • Make a phone call, visiting or just being observant could prevent another tragedy.
  • If you have elderly family members or neighbors offer to go out and get their mail, take the trash out or in or even stop at the grocery store and grab a few items for them so they do not have to go outside.
  • If you are cooking dinner, make a little bit extra and take it to them. A warm home cooked meal can make any frigid day feel warmer.
  • Shovel or plow out their driveway and sidewalk. This is really important in case an emergency occurs or they are receiving Meals on Wheels.
  • If your elderly family members are not close by, make sure you have a neighbor or friends contact information in case you can’t contact your family member.

If you are concerned about an elderly or frail senior please do not hesitate to call 911 to report your concern.

The City of Auburn Hills Senior Services Department is another good resource for non-emergency programs and services for older adults.

Let’s help protect those who have given so much to our community.

Karen Adcock, Director of Senior Services

 

Phishing Happens All the Time – Avoid Becoming A Victim

We are seeing increased cases of phishing lately.  Here is a note we received from a shift commander in the daily recap of activity:

Officer was dispatched to a company that received an email from a company in China about owing them money. Everything looked legitimate as they knew they owed the company money but the bank account information had been changed to an illegitimate account. The company transferred $ to the company account. By the time they realized the accounts were not right the money was gone.

By the time they realized that they had been phished the money was gone.  And we can’t get it back.

Here is more information on phishing and how to avoid become a victim.

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0003-phishing

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

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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?

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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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