Police cruise into 2018 with their own resolutions

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 29, 2018

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s turned that new treadmill into a fancy coat rack.

If you’ve already abandoned your New Year’s resolution, you’re not alone. But when your goals are to improve the safety of the community at large, there’s no throwing in the towel.

Leaders of law enforcement across the Eagle’s coverage area have set their own agendas to tackle in 2018, and many of them believe they’re off to a great start.

Cmdr. Scott Grewe
Birmingham Police Department

Training will top Grewe’s to-do list this year, both for his officers and for members of the community.

He told the Birmingham City Commission during a recent long-range planning meeting that the department has plans to send an officer to Drug Recognition Expert training, or DRE, so Birmingham officers don’t need to call in help from a neighboring municipality or the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office to evaluate when a suspected impaired driver might be under the influence of something besides alcohol.

“We know when someone is impaired and shouldn’t be driving. So if they pass a (blood alcohol content) test or they can’t walk or talk, it’s not like they’re free to go,” Grewe said. “But the drug recognition training gives us a better idea of what they might be on, which helps build a stronger case for us. It’s hard to establish probable cause without it.”

The training will make the DRE officer available to other municipalities in the event that he or she is needed, and the cost of training — and borrowing DRE personnel from another department — is all covered with grant funds.

Grewe said he also hopes to expand the level of community outreach the department engages in annually. Not all neighborhoods or homeowner associations are aware that a Birmingham Police Department officer can offer training in home security, scam prevention and other topics, Grewe said.

That’s especially true of ALICE training, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate — in essence, active shooter response training.

“We want to be able to offer churches and businesses something more than a discussion with an officer saying, ‘This is what I think you should do,’” Grewe said of ALICE.

He said several churches and businesses have signed up for the program in the last six months, and he’d like to help even more organizations learn how to best handle an aggressive threat like a shooter or an intruder.

Director Noel Clason
Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Department

Clason boasted that his department has been working to educate the city in ALICE training for some time, including churches and the Cranbrook Educational Community.

But he had a few things of his own to learn during 2017.

“One of our major goals in 2018 is to get accredited through the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, which basically means all of our policies and procedures will be model policies for the region, and someone can look to us for an example of how to do everything correctly,” Clason explained. “It really gives us a lot of credibility as far as a police or fire department. We have an image to uphold, and we want to give our residents what they deserve, and that’s the best department in the area.”

To become accredited, City Manager David Hendrickson started the process two years ago as a public safety chief to begin reviewing and rewriting all of the department’s literature to make sure it’s compliant with MACP standards.

“We have to assure our training is up to date, review every use-of-force policy, every procedure we have in the department to make sure there are no liabilities. It’s a pretty tedious process, and we have found some areas where we were noncompliant,” he said. “Like we have to have a policy for foot pursuit. I had no idea there was a policy for that. And we had to rewrite our less-than-lethal policies that apply to pepper spray and Tasers and qualifications on firearms and hand combat, (like) Pressure Point Control Tactics.”

The accreditation process should take about a week of evaluation, and Clason said he’s confident that the department will pass when the time comes.

Another measure of a department’s systems is the Insurance Safety Offices rating.

“Fire departments are rated on a scale of 1-10 nationally, and they’re inspected every five years,” Clason explained. “Right now our department is graded at a 5, and they go through everything from communications to staffing and equipment to how much water you can flow through the water mains to an area in the city.”

He said the lower the grade, the better.

“In the last three years, we’ve been improving on training, equipment, water supply on our truck. And if we get a better ISO rating, we’ll reap huge benefits for residents and commercial businesses by lowering insurance rates.”

Chief Scott McCanham
Bloomfield Township Police Department

The chief is just a few months from celebrating one year at the helm of the department, and his priorities for 2018 are largely technology centered.

“I would say that last year, (we) saw between 400 and 500 cases of identity theft, and those cases are split between two detectives,” McCanham said. “That’s about a 200 percent increase from 2013 through 2017. And unfortunately, our success rate in pursuing those cases is pretty low. They’re manpower-intense investigations, and they often lead out of our (jurisdiction).”

To try to get a leg up, the department recently assigned a detective to the FBI’s Identity Theft Task Force. That should expand the pool of resources that township officers can utilize to investigate crimes committed online, over the phone or in person using another person’s stolen information.

“They provide us with space at their office in Troy, personnel assistance, equipment, and it all comes at no cost to taxpayers,” he said.

In addition to that, McCanham wants to mimic efforts made in other regions of the country that add personal and business monitoring to a township registry to broaden the number of surveillance devices that police have access to in their investigations.

“We’re not sure what we’ll call ours yet, but I know some places have CAPTURE,” said McCanham, referring to the Community Awareness Program Through Utilizing Residential (Electronic) Eyes system. “So many people have video-enabled doorbells or their own security cameras, and there have been cases where a home has been broken into and maybe that home doesn’t have video, but the one next door does, and it’s picked up a suspect or vehicle. And the images we get are really sharp.”

The program would be voluntary, but the chief said it could save a good number of man hours currently spent sending officers door to door to ask neighbors if they saw anything connected to the incident.

Lt. Howard Shock
Beverly Hills Department of Public Safety

In a world that is constantly scrutinizing the work of law enforcement officers, Shock said he plans to ensure that his department treats every call with dignity.

“Our primary goal is always to protect the Constitution. We also want to resolve to treat any person we encounter with respect and courtesy, and to work closely with the community in which we serve,” Shock said. “Our biggest goals for 2018 are to continuously improve fire suppression, patient care and crisis management. Those are typically what we do the most, so we want to place the most emphasis on them. Improving upon that will only help the community.”

Chief Dan Roberts
Franklin-Bingham Farms Police Department

Roberts hopes to keep up his department’s current level of service, but to do that, he needs a few more hands on deck.

“In 2017, crime was very low in our two villages. We hope to continue our visible patrols and maintain close community relations to keep those crime levels low,” Roberts said. “On the administrative side, we hope to retain and attract more police officers, which is a matter a lot of police departments across the country are struggling to do.”

Staff Writer Brendan Losinski contributed to this report.