Thursday, March 21, 2013

Week Seven

An explanation to what the Training Unit is and what it does started out the night. Training is a significant part of each officer’s duty. The officers must keep up their skills, practice and learn new skills, be able to use them in any situation whether it is just answering a question or a full-blown police situation. The officers have annual training and are scheduled so that the department doesn’t have to use overtime.  Part of their training is reviewing skills in firearms (pistol, shotgun, and rifle); use of force (lethal and non-lethal); and defense tactics. Some of the officers ask for further specialized training to enhance their skill package. The department may schedule training that trains the trainer. This is a cost savings for Troy because the Training Unit may schedule a class with other police departments. Another way the department helps is to rent out their firing range to other departments.  Training skills are also required and scheduled by the state to maintain the professional standards of each police officer.

Our next topic was on the city’s Emergency Response. If an unforeseen event, such as weather related, chemical related, a plane crash, explosion, or fire, the city must have an emergency plan in place. The police and fire departments, as well as all government offices, are part of an emergency response package. The city has shelters listed by how big they are, where they are located, number of phone lines, power situations, how many people they could help, and how many parking places they have available. If an unforeseen event does occur in the east side of the city, shelters could be set up in other safe parts of the city away from the event. Communications will be discussed later. The city practices for different scenarios and times them to ensure they can be set up with little disturbance and be ready to go in a moment’s notice. The City Manager is the person overseeing the communications of what needs to be done and the how’s and why’s. The city has planned for three people to be able to do each job so that they can go home, rest up, and be in top shape and mind to carry on in the emergency. The emergency response plan includes equipment, including backhoes, trucks, or lifts that may be used and one phone call is all it takes to inquire of the appropriate party to bring the equipment to a scene. Oakland County Health Department will be set up and is needed to fulfill medical concerns. The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other volunteer disaster organizations would be called up as needed.

In any event, it is important to know what could happen to you. Could you be affected by a tornado, fire, hazmat situation, power outage, snow storm, etc.? You have to create a formal plan to deal with the situations. Where would you go if you were evacuated? You should pick three spots that your family can meet if you were separated when the event occurred. One spot should be locally; one out of the area, such as someplace up north; and a third out of the state. Make a checklist of emergency things you need to take to survive at least 72 hours. Have them put in a place where they are located together for easier access.  Have a first aid kit and other supplies for you and your family including diapers, medications, and special foods, and if you have pets, their supplies. Practice with your family what you’re going to do, where you are going to meet, and who is responsible for what. Remember, cell phone towers have a battery backup, but they also need power to continue operating. Your cell phone, etc. may become useless. The more you plan for it now, the less stress you will have later.

The next presentation was on grants. Troy has received more than $1.2 million dollars in grants since 1999. The grants were used to purchase specialized equipment for specialized events that may occur in the city. The hazmat trucks look like modified fire trucks (one is red and black and the other is orange). As stated earlier in another blog, they are now part of the Oakland County Hazmat Team for hazmat and other event concerns. If mutual aid is requested, the trucks roll to those events. The grants also purchased many technical devices including a spectrograph, which analyzes powders and liquids.

Grants today are not as plentiful as they were after 9-11. After 9-11, training was the most important part of funding. Recently, its focus is in learning about explosives. The communications within the city has improved. If an event occurs in Pontiac that would affect the communications center, Troy’s EOC (Emergency Operations Center) would be set up in about 15 minutes. If the county and city communications center is affected, a communications center could be set up at the Fire Training Center. The Fire Training Center is currently used by both the police and fire departments as a training facility. A grant was used to purchase the communications trailer that was described in week four. Today, the department is still trying to get grants. The grants that are not rewarded seem to be because Troy’s safest city designation. Troy is seen as doing a good job, so the feeling is why would you need these funds. The funds are then dispersed to cities that are low on the list.

The last presentation was by Chief Mayer who went over the budget. The budget for the past three years, and probably this year, has been under budget and the money returned to the general fund. There were many slides of where and how the monies are budgeted. Most of the money is for labor because the department is service oriented. This past (St. Patrick’s Day) weekend, there were 36 arrests for drunken driving. A typical weekend is around 20 arrests. If you have to pay a ticket, depending on the type, part of the money is returned to the police department, part to the library, and the rest remains with the court system for their discretion. When receiving a ticket three things need to happen: 1) be an emotional event for the receiver; 2) educate the person not to do it again because last time they received a ticket, 3) and be punitive.

Chief Mayer then answered a few more questions relating back through the past seven weeks.

Personally, I would like to thank Chief Mayer and the whole Troy Police Department for volunteering their time and talents to make the Citizens Police Academy a success. There were some accolades shared in class as to what was learned and what they expected – the feeling was a lot more was learned than expected. The academy is a tool the police department uses to inform the citizens of Troy and give a peek into what their careers are like and how they serve the citizens of Troy and surrounding areas. It was a little more than a sample into each area.

If you are interested in seeing a glimpse of the Troy Police Department, they have an Open House scheduled for May 18th. The Troy Fire Department has their Open House scheduled for (the first Sunday in) October 6th , this year.

Lastly, I would like to thank Sergeant Andy Breidenich for asking me to relay my experiences in a blog form. There was so much more I could have added and, if I got carried away, the blog would have been the size of a Sunday edition paper. Also, thanks to Monica Drake for her assistance in setting up and The Oakland Press for giving me space for the blog. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Week Six

The night started off explaining a little about Community Services. Community Services helps retail stores by providing them with information, through email, about possible identifications of future customers that may, as an example, shoplift or perpetrate another crime. Retail crime is the biggest crime in Troy.  The Troy Police Department has focused on crime prevention. They work with schools discussing the outcomes of breaking the law and the consequences that may be long or short term. Examples are texting while driving, shoplifting, drinking alcohol, or using or selling of drugs. Community Services works with the community, sponsoring the Active Shooter Seminar which was held last week at Walsh College.

Community Services has a volunteer group of citizens working with the department called Citizens on Patrol. They are the eyes and ears that patrol the city and watch for anything out of the ordinary, such as someone in a vehicle casing a neighborhood or a vehicle parked in a school or church parking lot after hours. The Citizens on Patrol call into dispatch on situations and let them decide if a police car is warranted. The patroller gives full details to what they see, hear, or smell. To become part of Citizens on Patrol a resident must first complete the Citizens Police Academy (7 weeks). There is also a mandatory training session for volunteers who want to become part of Citizens on Patrol.

Next on the agenda was the topic of the Professional Standards area of the department. There are many parts to this section. These include licensing of vendors, records department, background checks, emergency preparedness for any situation like hazmat or weather related, internal affairs, or staff inspections to name a few. The Troy Police Department is proud of all those who are part of their organization. One area used to get the quality of personnel is to go through the application and interview process. It is a rigorous process. The department has an open application time in which you apply by filling out a thick application. After submitting all of the required paperwork, a background investigation is done. They ask questions such as “who were all of your college roommates in school?” or “name all of the schools you have attended since you were ten years old”. They ask you to name all the jobs you had and tell how you left these positions. The lieutenant stated that when he applied, they found a glitch on him when he was in middle school.  He had to explain himself and it better match. All of the process is scored and the applicants are placed in a numerical order. If there is an opening, the list is used to call in applicants for the final phase of the hiring process. Some applicants have moved on to other departments by the time they are notified because of the time involved in waiting for an opening or just going through all of the first part of the application process. The components that make up the score for the list are the application, interview, and written test. The list is kept active for two years. After that time, a new list is generated through the same process.

We were next broken up into three groups. Before we left to go to our respective assigned area, we heard from the firearms instructor for the department. His instruction was on firearm safety. Every move in the firing range must be for safety. All guns are always considered loaded – even if you know they are empty. Keep the weapon pointed downrange. Keep the finger off the trigger.  Know your target and what is behind your target. All weapons the police are using are issued by the department. The handgun is a Glock.

The first group watched a short video on the police department that is located on the Troy Police Department’s Facebook site. There was a question and answer session on anything we wanted to know more about or if we had a question on anything since the first day.

The groups switched and were introduced to a command vehicle demonstration. The department has four large vehicles like Crown Victorias and an Explorer that have equipment and tools in the trunk in case of certain incidents. The tools and equipment are used for prevention, as well as tactics, to end situations. The incidents could include someone with suicidal tendencies who refuses to come out of the house, a hostage situation, or using the vehicle to enter a situation to act as a shield if an officer is shot.

The last area was downstairs in the firing range. The group listened to more about safety, how to hold and fire the gun, and then to proceed to follow oral directions to fire 20 rounds at two targets. The first was for practice and the second for a score. Safety glasses and ear protection was also used. The police department does not use ammunition with lead. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Week Five

This week we met at Troy Fire Station 3. If you have attended any of the Open Houses that the Troy Fire Department has the first Sunday in October, then you will be familiar with some of the things I will be describing.

First, Chief Nelson welcomed us to his station. The fire volunteers have weekly meetings and hands-on training every week. The training is held Monday through Thursday at six stations located in various locations in Troy. The fire station personnel prepared a fantastic meal for us. Chief Nelson stated that they do cook each week for those volunteers who come straight to the station for training. A special thanks to Stations 3 and 4 and any others who made us feel like we were home and part of the family.

Our first speaker of the night was the General Manager from Alliance Ambulance. He spoke about how the ambulances are positioned within the city and the corresponding areas for coverage. They try to position the ambulances to be in the areas that have the most calls at certain times of the day on any given day of the week. This cuts down response time which is sometimes crucial. Within Oakland County, an ambulance has two paramedics. Ambulances in other counties could have an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and a paramedic. Also Troy has SUVs that have a paramedic onboard called a Paramedic First Responder (PFR). This paramedic can arrive at the scene first and have care be given to the patient before the transporting unit arrives. The PFR can call off the transporting unit if it is not needed and they can go back in service to their area.

Returning to be our next speaker was Chief Nelson. The Chief went over the budget which was impressive. For a city the same size and population, Troy’s budget is $10 million dollars less for fire protection. Now, think about what our six fire stations look like, the fleet of vehicles we have and all of the equipment each carries and stores for any needed service call. The service calls can be for fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials, or assist the police or ambulance calls as needed. Chief Nelson also emphasized that Troy carries an Insurance Service Office (I.S.O.) rating of Class 3 as a Fire Department. This is based on a scale of 1 to 10 and Class 1 is the highest. It is hard to be a Class 1. In Michigan, there are 2 Class 2 and 23 Class 3 departments out of over 1,000 departments.

The Chief stressed that when they get reevaluated, it is week-long process to go through each piece of equipment and test and log it. The Troy Fire Department is in the top 3% of fire departments in the Unites States! We have the largest volunteer department within the State. The Troy Fire Department has one Fire Chief, one Division Assistant Chief, five Staff Lieutenants, 3 Staff Technicians, and one civilian Secretary. The volunteers include 180 firefighters with 36 station officers. The firefighters also wear other hats, such as belonging to the Oakland County Hazardous Materials Response Team, Oakland Regional Response Team or the Communication Support Team. For more information on the description of each, refer to the Fire Teams.

The Assistant Fire Chief spoke on Fire Safety. One point that drew my attention was regarding the disposal of ashes from a fireplace or wood burning stove. If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove and you take the ashes out of the cold stove and place them in a container, the ashes after a week can be still active and burning. That is seven days after you think there is no fire activity because all you have is ashes – you still could have hot ashes.

We had a short video showing the comparison of furniture from 40 years ago with modern day furniture and its chemical components. The old furniture after about 4.5 minutes when lit would have a small fire. The modern furniture had the room more than totally engulfed. The fire department likes to take a proactive stance on fire prevention by teaching what we need to do to remain safe and know what to do if a fire does occur. They have a fire house on wheels that they can fill with smoke to show how hard it is to find your way in a room during a fire. If you have any questions on home fire prevention equipment, their installation, or its use, please contact the fire department at their non-emergency number of (248) 524-3419.

We then went on for some hands-on training and observations. Six stations were set up and a description of each does not do justice to what we saw or experienced.

Station One: Fire House – each participant volunteer was to put on a firefighter’s coat, air mask with tank and a helmet. They were led outside by the station’s Lieutenant as he explained what they would experience with no visibility and to crawl on their hands and knees through the fire house to the exit. Also, you had to yell if you had to communicate with the person next to you.

Station Two: Air Tender 3 – Troy is fortunate to have an air tender. The air tender in manned by two firefighters who go to a fire suppression scene or other required call, in which the firefighters are required to wear a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) or air tank and mask. If another department in the area requests the air tender, it is sent out. The two firefighters are responsible to take the empty tanks off the firefighters and replace them with full ones. The air tender has a compressor onboard that refills the empty tanks. In the old days, the police would load a bunch of empty cylinders in the trunk and then drive to the station and have them refilled and bring them back to the scene. This truck saves time, manpower, and money.

Station Three: Alliance Ambulance – We were inside the ambulance for a short talk and then went to a question and answer session. The paramedics described medical condition calls that they respond to and how the medications they administer help the patient. They reviewed the procedures they have to follow for each call. An example is if you are placing a person on the backboard, there is a certain sequence to which strap is fastened first, second, third, etc. If the sequences of any aid are not followed, further injury could occur. The PFR was parked in front of the ambulance to view the equipment it carries. This ambulance is better suited for patient treatment than the one I used years ago as an EMT. I don’t want to date myself, but the ambulances we had were the old Cadillac station wagon, a van type and an old box type in comparison to what is available today.

Station Four: Extrication – Behind Station 3, a heavy rescue fire truck was set up near a car that they were cutting open. They demonstrated how powerful hydraulic jaws can cut the various pillars of the vehicle so firefighters can peel back the roof to allow the paramedics to extricate the victims. The jaws can also be used to pull the steering wheel away. The firefighters stated that time is precious and sometimes the victim is not doing too well, so they have to do a quick extrication; but, they want to do it in the safest of ways to protect everyone involved from flying glass or metal shavings. This truck is well equipped. We saw airbags that are used to raise vehicles if necessary and the bags onboard could lift a 40-ton semi four feet off the ground. Some of the supplies or equipment that the truck is equipped with includes but is not limited to rope, K-12 rescue saw, cordless tools, torches, chippers, hydraulic jacks, wood for staging, lights, air packs, and hand tools.

Station Five: Ladder Truck - This truck holds 300 gallons of water, which is not very much when it can pump 1,500 gallons a minute. Finding a hydrant is necessary on certain calls. The truck has a mounted ladder that is extended 100 feet in the air. We were invited to go up and view the city from the extended bucket. There were two probationary firefighters there assisting. One of them described that they are on probation until they learn and use each of the trucks and all of the equipment. This could take up to a year after they finish their fire service academy training.

Station Six: Ride-Along – We rode inside one of the engines through part of the area that Station 3 covers.  The engine holds 1,000 gallons, but has a capacity to pump 1,500 gallons per minute so a hydrant is also necessary. There is a computer mounted on the console to view where the hydrants are located near to where fire suppression needs to occur. Dispatch also has the same program and reads off the hydrants, as the person in charge of the scene tells what truck to go to what hydrant and where to stage, to fight the fire. The driver of the engine has to go through extensive training to drive this massive truck – by weight. It has a maximum speed of 60 mph, which is usually done on the expressways.  The truck is equipped with technology to call the lights so they are green as they pass through an intersection. The seats within the truck have air packs built in, but are not strapped on until the truck arrives on scene. And surprisingly, they were comfortable.

If you want to experience some of what we experienced, the Troy Fire Department’s Open House is scheduled for the first Sunday of October each year at any of the six stations. If you have any questions about home fire safety, home equipment, such as ladders, window escape routes, emergency exit response plans, or fire prevention, the fire department is more than happy to take your call on their nonemergency number of (248) 524-3419. If you do have an emergency, please call 9-1-1 immediately and don’t try to handle it yourself. Their website has a lot of useful information: Troy Fire Department

Friday, March 1, 2013

Week Four

This week was different than previous weeks. We had hands-on demonstrations, as well as being introduced to a lot of equipment used in the performance of an officer’s duty. Some officers are well trained in certain specialty areas which are not used in a normal day. We were placed into six teams and rotated through different demonstrations throughout the night.

First, as a class, we were taken into the physical training room where there are mats on the floor and foam mannequins and other hands-on equipment. We were shown how tasers affect a suspect. Six police academy students volunteered to be victims and be tased. Each walked to the center of the mat and was supported by classmates as they were tased. The Taser has small barb like fishhooks that penetrate into the skin about 1/8th-inch. The electric shock lasts for 5 seconds and the student is then lowered to the ground and told to relax to allow the muscles to relax. The barbs are pulled out and the next student is tased. Each student took their turn and each seemed to react a little differently based on where the barbs landed. The distance between the barbs is a factor.

Next, we went to our assigned stations. K-9 was our next avenue where we learned about how the dogs are trained and their skills maintained/honed to keep them to their utmost best. The dogs are all male German shepherds. They do much more than catch criminals. They have been used to track runaway kids, or lost senior citizens. They are cross trained to react to different situations, such as searching for people, drugs, or aggression towards a difficult suspect.

Once we completed our canine demonstration, we went back to the room with the mats and learned some defensive tactics. Many of us have never been in a fight, but into today’s world we may have to defend ourselves even though we never thought that day may come. The police have 40 hours of training in different areas that they complete throughout the year. These training hours are used to review their skill levels, as well as bring in any new techniques.

The Communications Support Team was our next stop.  The city has a communications truck that can go to any city or situation and connect the many channels that departments use to communicate. They also have a trailer that has other equipment that can talk to communication centers. On display were cases of radios, repeaters, and laptops that may be used at sites. If a special event occurs in Troy, such as a candidate coming in and staying at one of our hotels, communications and security can be set up within the building.

Our group next went to the Crisis Negotiation Team. This is one of the areas that the officers are trained in, but the skills are not used as a skill everyday on a large scale. They have equipment that they can use in a hostage or dangerous situation to establish communication. The goal is to end the situation in a peaceful way. A phone can be delivered to a house or building by an officer or a robot. Specialty training in this area is done to keep their skills sharp if they are called into action.

Next, we visited the Tactical Support Team (TST). We stood behind a humvee that was given to the Troy Police Department by the Michigan National Guard. It is maintained by the National Guard, but Troy has to supply the fuel to keep it running. The Troy Police Department was the first police department in the State to have a SWAT team. In the TST, the officers volunteer to be a part of this team. They have a long and challenging process to go through before they are accepted as a member. Belonging to this team is a long-term commitment in that the officer will be a part of the team unlike a two or three year commitment. We were shown various tools the officers use in any given situation.

Last, we visited the Hazardous Materials Team area. The police were asked years back to assist the fire department with hazardous assessments and cleanups. Since 9/11, the list of possible situations has grown and we as a city are recognized as being ready to respond to any situation anywhere if called on. We also have other departments involved in using our equipment as needed. Each week, there is a different team that is on-call if the occasion arises. The capabilities range from radiation detection to drugs such as meth labs, or ammonia leaks from trains. The department has a contract with a lab that makes the final determination of what component they may have at a particular site. Troy has two trucks fully equipped for these situations. Again, they can help any local, state or federal departments whether it is in Michigan or surrounding states.

After our demonstrations, our night ended with us returning to the first classroom for a question and answer session.

Week Three

This week’s topics have to do with the Investigative/Administrative Services Division of the Troy Police Department. We started out with a welcome from Captain Keith Frye. He gave us a breakdown of the topics of the night and who would be presenting them.

We first heard from Officer Krissy Shuler about concerns juveniles may create in the city. The police department uses prevention and early involvement to let students know what could happen if they break the law. The resource officers that used to be attached directly with schools were a product of budget cuts. 

There are officers on call 24/7 to handle any concerns that may arise involving juveniles. State laws dictate how a juvenile is detained and questioned. Who could be considered as a juvenile? 16 years of age and under, 17 to 19 years of age AND students of Troy Schools are all considered juveniles. There are five school districts in Troy.  Juveniles can be offenders, victims or status offenders. Status offender is an event that is not a crime as an adult. Examples are incorrigibility, and home and school truancy.

Each situation is different and their goal is to be a learning experience instead of a punishment or arrest. The police spend a lot of time investigating why the concern occurred and has many people involved in how this concern can be taken care of in a positive way. This may mean a diversion to a community program instead of prosecution or referral to a Juvenile Court for serious or repeat offenders. Some offenders may need a nudge to get back on track without having a record that could affect the rest of their life.

Next, Lieutenant Stout went over the Investigative Services Division. He stated that solving crimes is nothing like what is seen on television where within one hour they go to the scene, collect hours of evidence and solve the crime. The investigation takes lots of man-hours including examining the smallest of details. No detail is shelved or not looked at as it may be the key to solving the case. Not all cases are investigated. An example of this would be someone taking garden tools from a garage. They are probably unsolvable. All cases are put into a priority by solvability. Solvability factors include, but are not limited to, a reliable witness, suspect description, suspect previously seen, and a vehicle description. Tips come into play and are reviewed.

Lt. Stout also reviewed fraud. He reviewed places where fraud occurs within the city. These include Craigslist, the internet, emails, phone calls, credit card, ID theft, and door-to-door. He warned us to be aware of anything that sounds fishy or too good to be true. Some of the perpetrators are successful due to years of experience, such as those who offer resealing of your driveway for a discount price. The victim finds out that they only poured oil on the driveway and the hot sun evaporated the oil leaving no protection.

Third, we heard from Lieutenant Salter on Criminal Investigations. Troy officers may be assigned to help other jurisdictions solve crimes. These may be other city police departments, county sheriff’s office, or state or federal agencies. Their goal is to use the evidence to solve a serious crime before it occurs again. They may go undercover and blend in with the surroundings to get evidence to solve the case. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Week Two

We started out the night with an overview of the Troy Police Department by Chief Gary Mayer. Chief Mayer provided a little history of the department first. The department started in 1952 before Troy becoming a city (1955). Prior to that time, Troy was a township. The building that was City Hall is now the Troy Museum. The basement was the Police Department, which included a cell. During its history, three officers have lost their lives: Officer Charles Smetana - died from injuries that occurred as the result of a traffic crash; Officer Martin Chivas - was fatally shot during his investigation of a burglary at the Texaco gas station that was located at Rochester Road and I-75; Officer Charles Mulvihill - died from a heart-related ailment while responding to a call. These men are honored each Police Memorial Day in May.

We were given an overview of the budget in regards to its effect on the daily operations of the department. The thing that caught my attention and should be noted to the citizens of Troy is the decrease in sworn officers over the last four years from 137 to 97; this is a decrease of 40 officers. The total department decreased from 174 to 146.5 full-time employees in the last fiscal year alone. If you look at these losses, Troy Police still do their very best to make this the Best City (#1) not only in Michigan but the United States. The police do credit the citizens for their help and cooperation through their many avenues to help make Troy the city it is with the ranking of 2nd Safest City in Michigan for the population over 75,000 for 2011.

With these cuts, the police responded to 33,336 calls for service; issued 11,326 citations (including parking tickets); made 2,684 arrests; and investigated 3,457 traffic crashes. With the cutbacks,certain services have changed. Please refer to the Troy Police Department wedsite for more information. One of those services is filling out minor reports which can be done at home or at the Troy Police Department.

The Troy Police Department works on prevention as well as handling the situations that do arise. They work with the schools to help students understand the laws and consequences of using alcohol and drugs, driving under the influence and distracted driving. There has been a loss of those officers that previously worked directly with the schools. The police also contact the local hotels and motels in the spring to review teenagers renting rooms for prom nights and graduation parties.

The Troy Police keep up with the national news and review any police tactics and adjust them as necessary to any situation that may arise anywhere in the city. They study buildings; their structures inside and out; and where and how to possibly enter or exit in any given situation. If further training is required a specialist may be welcomed by the city to provide further training for area police departments to cut down the costs of sending officers elsewhere for as many days as needed.

Next, we took a quick tour of the Police Department. It was very enlightening to see how it is structured within the building as well as to see the many desks that are vacant due to the cuts. The building is structured to best serve the daily operations in an effective way. If you are interested in touring the building, there is an Open House scheduled for Saturday, May 18, 2013. Please watch the newspapers for further details.

The last part of the night, we heard from the Crime Scene Investigation Evidence Technician Unit (CSIETU) Officer Tony Cascioli. Officer Cascioli discussed how important the first sequence of events as you roll on a scene is so very important. Some of the elements are make sure the scene is safe, check the victim(s), secure the scene, make notes of observations, and make a rough scene sketch. Some of the problems that may be encountered are when the CSIETU arrive on the scene, the fire department, other police officers, ambulance personnel, or others that may have been on the scene first. All of those on the scene at the time of arrival must be accounted for and must be eliminated by forensics. All have to be accounted for what they saw, heard, said or seen. Interviews take place using the 5Ws: who, what, when, where, why and how. If weather conditions, such as rain or snow are occurring, the technicians work fast to gather the physical evidence before its loss. There are many specialties that the technicians have to acquire the skills such as: photography, fingerprinting, blood evidence collection, and gunshot trajectory to name a few. Everything is documented as to recreating the scene, placement of victims and evidence and possibly to what may have happened. These documents will possibly be used in court. The evidence is taken to the Troy Police Station laboratory for further testing. They use many lights and chemicals to determine whether or not physical evidence is important or ruled out for their case. Some evidence may be forwarded on to other labs for further examination/study like the State Police lab in Lansing. We visited the laboratory after the presentation for a tour.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Week One

This is the first blog for the 2013 Troy Citizens Academy. The academy is one tool that the Troy Police Department uses to let the public find out firsthand what makes up the department, who makes up the department and its internal structure and how each part plays a role in providing the public with protection of life and property and maintaining the peace through police service. The Troy Police Department has sponsored many of these academies in the past. They want to be open as much as possible to the public. They have many avenues that provide information/tools like Twitter, Facebook, a mobile app for your phone, and crime alerts through emails. These are available at the City of Troy Police Department website.  

At our first meeting, we first went over the structure of the police department. Some of the police are in uniform and others are in plain clothes depending on their daily roles. They have four 10-hour shifts. One requirement is working your holiday schedule versus sacrificing your home life. The uniformed officers are the most visible. They respond to a wide range of calls for service. Within this group, to name a few, are those patrolling our streets, the officers that deal with any fatal crash investigations, process crime scenes, and three K-9 officers. Troy Police work with other departments to strengthen their core. An example is working with Auburn Hills' officers with fatal crashes. There are many characteristics a police officer possesses. These include being emotionally and physically sound, flexible, compassionate, having courage and perseverance to name a few. Skills include possessing common sense, problem-solving skills, performing well under stress, and being empathetic and tolerant.

Second, we heard about Community Services Section (CSS) within the department. This is a familiar section to some Troy residents. The CSS provides resources for the community in the form of block parties, marches, parades, runs, walkathons, thanking those school children who were on patrol at the various school corners throughout the school year (Safety Orange Bowl), charity events, teaching children how and where to ride bicycles, and how to spot dangerous situations and people and how to respond to each. The list is even longer than this but the community is the one who benefits from these seemingly background opportunities.

The third topic covered was the Traffic Safety Unit that is comprised of five officers, down from 10, due to budget constraints, who investigate fatal crashes and review traffic patterns throughout the city. They make recommendations if a situation occurs that needs to be modified, such as changing the way the traffic lights are sequenced along one of our roads. If a fatality occurs, a street or road may be shut down until the investigation is complete. They look at all the vehicles involved, tires, tire marks, the whole area involved, all the people involved, the witnesses, any other clue and all their measurements. 

The last topic addressed was the OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) Law as it pertains to the State of Michigan. One aspect that was brought out was that when you receive your license, you are letting the State know that if you are subject to a breathalyzer test, you would give it. The police pull you over because of your driving and ask you different things to say or perform, as well as give you a breathalyzer if the situation requires it. There are different tests based on what their senses are telling them. The tests are for operating the vehicle under the influence of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, prescription drugs, or a combination of them. There were many questions about individual scenarios and the bottom line is each situation is different and no one answer fits all. (Refer to the State of Michigan's Substance Abuse and Driving website for more information.)

There are about 30 people in the current academy and there is a waiting list for the one to be held this Fall. The Troy Police Department place notifications in newspapers about two months in advance to let citizens know when the next class is. If you are interested in participating in an academy after reading seven weeks of this blog, watch the local newspapers for the next class.