Crisis Intervention Training

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Dealing with persons affected by mental illness is one of the most common calls our officers respond to.   It is a daily occurrence, sometimes multiple times daily involving more than one individual.  That is the reason our department has signed on to the International Association of Chiefs of Police “One Mind” campaign.  The goal is to improve the interactions between the police and the mentally ill.  Too often those interactions have the potential to go terribly wrong and violence ensues.  To participate we have committed to training 20% of our staff in Crisis Intervention Training.  It is a 40 hour grant funded program that trains police to better recognize the signs of a person in a crisis and offers strategies to officers that have a higher likelihood of a peaceful outcome.  Officer  Paul Wagenmaker was one of the first Auburn Hills Officers to take the class.  The officers and command officers have found the training interesting and helpful.  Officer Wagonmaker shared what he learned:

“The class gave me a better perspective on mental illness and the way it affects people.  Many of the people we have contact with suffer from some type of mental illness.

Since the training my efforts are greater at trying to understand the person and how the mental illness affects them.  The class taught me to be more personable and empathetic towards people suffering from mental illness and most importantly that they did not choose to have the illness.   I learned techniques to make them feel more comfortable speaking to me, oppose to being afraid of the uniform.  The class also provided us with information on area resources such as Common Ground, Easter Seals, and Oakland County Community Mental Health.

I have used the information that I learned in numerous contacts with people that suffer from mental illness.  I believe that it is extremely important to learn and adapt policing & communication styles to people with mental illness.  The use of ineffective communication with people who have mental illness often escalates to violence.  There have been studies that use of force incidents decrease when using effective techniques on people with mental illness.

For example, I used some of the techniques on an individual who suffers from mental illness.  He was suicidal and highly intoxicated – he barricaded himself inside his residence.  He continued to threaten to kill himself and threatened Officers that he would shoot us.  For nearly 90 minutes, behind cover outside the residence, I used the techniques that I had learned in this training to communicate with him while he was inside at a window.

I felt that there was no reason to make entry into the residence and using force because he was alone inside and I felt that it would escalate the situation where someone may get hurt.  He would go back and forth speaking of violence to asking for help.  Detective Thomas arrived on scene to assist.  He and I were soon able to convince him to exit the residence so we can get him the help he was asking for.  Once he exited, he was transported to the hospital for a committal.   The situation was resolved and most importantly nobody got hurt.

Another example, is while I was training a new Officer recently, we assisted SIU and the Detective Bureau in executing a search warrant in our City.  When we all arrived on scene, a male was outside and immediately ran from us to the backyard.  It was unknown at the time if the person running was the suspect in a B&E case.  We gave chase and I had my Taser out when I soon recognized signs and behaviors of mental illness from the runner.  I choose not to use my Taser.  We were able to secure him and then learned that he was the suspect’s autistic brother.   The class that I took taught me to recognize the signs and behaviors of mental illness.

I use some of the techniques often as we deal with people suffering from mental illness daily.”

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year.

 

 

You can help support missing kids & their families by “Rocking One Sock”

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is kicking off their “Rock One Sock” campaign.  People all over the country are showing their support for missing children and their families all month leading up to National MIssing Children’s Day on May 25.

If you are a Twitter user follow their @missingkids #RockOneSock to see who is out there rocking the sock from around the country.

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In just a quick check of the site I found one from professional skateboarder Tony Hawk.  He’s rocking the sock!

 

 

 

 

 

Show your support by a Tweet of your one sock.  Let families of missing children know that they are not forgotten.

Here is a video from John Walsh and his son with more information:

You can help:  sign up for Amber Alerts and follow @missingkids on Twitter and Facebook.  Share the information about kids reported missing to help bring them home.

We are deeply concerned about human trafficking

As I have blogged about here in the past (March 14, 2013; June 2, 2016), we take human trafficking seriously.  We investigate and charge cases as we come upon them (none at Great Lakes Crossings Mall). And we do what we can to educate and inform the public to help us in the fight.   To do that I want to get serious about the most common sources of victimization so that the root causes can been seen and addressed.

In local cases we have investigated, and in our study of professional literature we have seen that human trafficking involves vulnerable people.  They may be vulnerable for a variety of reasons.  We have investigated cases where vulnerable individuals have been recruited outside of drug treatment centers by individuals who pretend to care about them and then reintroduce them to drugs to control them.  These victims have little or no support system, whether as a result of their drug addictions or they are runaway or homeless.  Knowing that, we have put extra emphasis on locating runaway kids when we receive reports.  There are resources and we try to help families find what works for them.

This is a serious crime everywhere and we have charged cases of trafficking.  Here is some information on the topic to learn more from the Polaris Project:

National Human Trafficking Hotline:  The Victims

CALL THE HOTLINE

1-888-373-78881-888-373-7888

TTY: 711

While human trafficking spans all demographics, there are some circumstances or vulnerabilities that lead to a higher susceptibility to victimization and human trafficking. While not inclusive of all vulnerabilities, the following highlights a few risk factors for victims of human trafficking.

Runaway and homeless youth are vulnerable to trafficking. A study in Chicago found that 56 percent of prostituted women were initially runaway youth and similar numbers have been identified for male populations. Runaway and homeless youth lack a strong supportive network and runaway to unfamiliar environments are particularly at risk of trafficking. Runaway youth are often approached by traffickers at transportation hubs, shelters or other public spaces. These traffickers pretend to be a boyfriend or significant other, using feigned affection and manipulation to elicit commercial sex or services from the victim.

Foreign nationals who are trafficked within the United States face unique challenges that may leave them more susceptible to trafficking and exploitation. In 2013, 32 percent of calls with high indicators of human trafficking to the NHTRC referenced foreign nationals. Recruiters located in home countries frequently require such large recruitment and travel fees that victims become highly indebted to the recruiters and traffickers. These fees are inflated far beyond cost in order to create economic instability and dependency on the new employer or trafficker. Traffickers leverage the non-portability of many work visas as well as the lack of familiarity with surroundings, laws and rights, language fluency, and cultural understanding in order to control and manipulate victims.

Individuals who have experienced violence and trauma in the past are more vulnerable to future exploitation, as the psychological effect of trauma is often long-lasting and challenging to overcome. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war and conflict or social discrimination may be targeted by traffickers, who recognize the vulnerabilities left by these prior abuses. Violence and abuse may be normalized or beliefs of shame or unworthiness lead to future susceptibility to human trafficking.

Recognizing the signs of human trafficking:

Common Work and Living Conditions:
  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior:
  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact
Poor Physical Health:
  • Lacks medical care and/or is denied medical services by employer
  • Appears malnourished or shows signs of repeated exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control:
  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)

Great Lakes Crossings & Sex Trafficking

Once again we have confronted the recurring Facebook rumor about Great Lakes Crossings Mall being a hot bed of sex trafficking.  I’ve been reading through the comments to learn what people are saying on this topic.  Frankly, I’m insulted that some commenters have suggested that this kind of thing is happening regularly and that we “want to keep it hush-hush.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  All the members of our department take sex trafficking seriously.  We investigate thoroughly any report anytime.  We know that we have no missing persons reports there – now or ever.

Because we are cops, we are a bunch of fact based people.  We believe strongly that facts and truth are important.  And the fact is that there are no indications of sex trafficking rings or kidnappings going on there.  We have a group of officers who work out of a substation right at the mall so they are in and around the mall all the time.  We respond to things there quickly and with the necessary emphasis.  None of this Facebook stuff is fact — and when we have to keep investigating rumors over and over it is a waste of valuable investigative time.

If there is a person out there who is uncomfortable at any time while at the mall, they should call 911 and report the situation as soon as possible.  You can also find help from any mall security person.  And for those people who say that they don’t feel comfortable dropping off their kids at the mall without adults, I say THANKS.  Unsupervised kids are a  continuing problem to us.

Here is where the real problem of sex crimes against kids exists:  on their phones and computers.  Are you checking their phones?  Apps like Snapchat and Kik are a growing problem.  We are seeing these cases nearly daily.

Lieutenant Ryan Gagnon was just in my office. He is recently transferred from Operations Division to Investigations.  He has never been a detective so has had limited interaction with sex crimes.  He was telling me how shocked he is to see the volume of these types of cases.  He is shocked that kids are communicating on line with persons representing themselves as other kids who ask them to photo or video themselves naked and then extorting them to perform more and more by threatening to post the photos and videos.  It is horrifying.  Want to prevent sex crimes on kids?  Know what they are doing online.

Here is a video from the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children  that gives insight to the problem:

Want to do more to help?  Don’t spend your time with unverified rumors – educate yourself, donate, support the work of NCMEC and circulate their message on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Prom Season and Hotel Parties

Auburn Hills is fortunate to be home to a large number of hotels serving our business and entertainment entities.  We work with our hoteliers to help them provide a safe and hospitable atmosphere.  Every year at this time we contact the hotels and the area high schools in an attempt to prevent teenage hotel parties.

I am always shocked when I hear that parents and sometimes older siblings rent hotel rooms for high school parties after prom where there is significant drinking and drug use .  We take a very dim view of these parties and encourage the hotels to call us when they see the signs a party of this kind is brewing.

I’ve even heard parents say that they think it is “safe” if they rent the room for the party and provide the alcohol so that the kids don’t drive.  Drunk or drugged driving certainly is extremely dangerous but so is allowing your child to drink to excess (ever heard of alcohol poisoning?)  When these parties occur we answer calls of fighting, property damage and sexual assault.

We will have a zero tolerance for underaged drinking and will issue tickets and make arrests.  You can be issued an open house party ticket with a BIG fine if you are the party sponsor.

Don’t let a fun celebration turn into a negative life altering experience. Image result for safe prom

Once again, in San Bernadino yesterday, we see the outcomes of domestic violence

Domestic violence is a terrible problem on this country.  We respond to these calls nearly daily here in Auburn Hills and it is not uncommon to respond to several in one 24 hour day.  Nationally, we saw it again yesterday when a teacher’s estranged husband burst into his wife’s special education classroom and fired, killing her and an 8 year old boy.  A second boy was injured.

 

A gunman opened fire inside his wife’s elementary school classroom in San Bernardino on Monday, killing her and one a student before shooting himself.

Source: San Bernardino School Shooting: Three Dead, 1 Wounded in ‘Murder-Suicide’ in Classroom – NBC News

Domestic violence cuts across all races and socio economic groups.  Nice neighborhoods, not so nice neighborhoods.  We see it so much on the news I fear we have stopped seeing Image result for domestic homicideit.  Did you know that in Michigan:

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 21,000 calls, approximately 15 calls every minute.v
  • Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
  • The presence of a gun in the home during a domestic violence incident increases the risk of homicide by at least 500%.
  • 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these crimes are female.

Lt Cas Miarka, who trains our businesses in active shooter response, reminds workplaces how  frequently workplace violence stems from a domestic dispute.  That is just what the San Bernardino incident was –her husband brought a gun to her workplace to kill her.  No one wants to become involved in someone else’s business but if you know a co worker is struggling it is important to report the situation to Human Resources who can take steps to make sure that workers are safe.  Call us, we can help.

Because of our concerns over the widespread nature of this type of crime, we have embarked on a new path to increase our skills and knowledge of investigation of these cases.  Several of our officers and investigators have been trained and certified in “lethality.”  We take extra steps to determine how likely it is that one of the parties in a domestic dispute may engage in extreme violence.  There are behavioral markers that are derived from research indicating when there is a likelihood so that the victim can take steps to protect themselves.

We also have trained more personnel on the signs of strangulation. Victims will sometimes tell us that they have been “choked” by their partner but at the time there are no obvious marks or bruises so no evidence.  Since there was no specialized way to gather evidence officers had no empirical proof -only the victim’s word.  We know that “choking”  is an attempt to kill another person and that it takes a relatively small amount of pressure on the carotid arteries to cut off blood supply to the brain causing death in a short period of time.  We have been involved in this extra training starting in early 2017.  As a result,  we have requested and received strangulation (10 year felony) warrants for the arrest of 2 perpetrators.  When I watched the recorded interview of one of these individuals he demonstrated how he pulled the strings of her hoodie sweatshirt to cut off her ability to breath and the blood supply to her brain. It was shocking to watch.  The other subject escaped the scene before our arrival and has not yet been arrested.  But we will find for him.

We have rededicated ourselves to improved investigation using new evidence based techniques in these cases.  We understand how much havoc and damage the perpetrators wreak on those around them:  domestic partners, children, workplaces, even police officers.  And we are determined to bring them to justice.

If someone you know is a victim of domestic violence there is help:  HAVEN their 24 hr crisis line number is 877-922-1274.  If you are lucky enough not to need the services of HAVEN you can still help with your time, your talents and your money.  Check out their website to find out how.

And if you are a person who is violent toward your intimate partner or family, you are going to jail in Auburn Hills.