One of my very worst traits is that I love to be right. I know that I annoy everyone with my penchant for being right, my husband most of all! I guess the upside of it is that I am willing to go the extra mile in my due diligence, I push people further than they otherwise might have gone, I do extra background research to get the best outcome I think can be achieved.
I’d like to report today that I’M RIGHT–at least on the topic of the success of our multijurisdictional teams. Long ago my colleagues from neighboring departments and I determined that we needed to pool our resources to achieve the quality and quantity of specialized units that we all want. Some types of incidents are infrequent but require high levels of skill to investigate and prosecute. The good news is our communities are largely very safe but we never take that for granted. That safety is the work of many people and it requires constant monitoring and adjustment.
We have (or had) several: the Detroit Metro Identity Fraud Task Force (Troy/Auburn Hills 1999-2009); Troy Special Investigations Unit (Troy, Bloomfield Twp, Auburn Hills); Oakland County Violent Crime Task Force (Bloomfield Twp, Auburn Hills, Oakland Co Sheriff’s Office, Pontiac); MCAT Major Crimes Assistance Team (Troy, Bloomfield Twp, Auburn Hills, Birmingham, Clawson) and SOCCIT – South Oakland County Crash Investigations Team (Troy, Bloomfield Twp and Auburn Hills). These teams have required very little additional resources–largely they are a pooling of resources and they have required the communities to sign intergovernmental agreements setting the ground rules for participation. The teams work well because at the heart, our organizations largely agree on how policing ought to be done. We have similar training and organizational cultures and we share the same professional ethics and standards. We pledge to do the right things for the right reasons. We have teams that work on specialized targets and work daily to impact a certain type of crime (violent crime task force or identity fraud) or teams that are called together only following a serious event (SOCCIT or MCAT). We need both types.
As an example, just after Christmas Auburn Hills called out the MCAT to help us resolve a large burglary of a major retailer in our city. They were able to assist us in a large number of interviews leading us to develop suspects. Some of those suspects have been arrested and charged and about half of the cash has been recovered. Given the relatively small size of Auburn Hills investigative team, it would have been difficult for us to put forward a large enough personnel to move this investigation forward while at the same time attending to the daily press of reported crime and other ongoing investigations.
Similarly the SOCCIT team has had 4 call outs since Thanksgiving. While means that in our 3 communities we have had 3 fatal and 1 very serious traffic crashes since Thanksgiving. These also require a number of trained investigators working quickly. The team has been doing an excellent job of meeting our goals.
We have long known that when a critical event occurs like a homicide or a fatal crash our best opportunity for solving the crime or piecing together the puzzle of what happened in a fatal crash is to move quickly to gather evidence and interview witnesses. Our best opportunities come when we can get down to the pertinent facts within the first 24-48 hours. To do that, however, requires a lot of people power around the clock. And not just any people but skilled investigators using the best tools we have. We know that none of us can staff for that occasional but critical incident.
These teams are not necessarily a response to the current economic crisis. Largely they were planned and conceived over a long period of time because it just simply makes the best sense. So the bad guys should beware, these teams will be around for a long time to come.