A Special Honor for Sgt. Leonard from Oakland University

This morning Sgt. Rick Leonard received a special honor from his alma mater, Oakland University.  It resulted from some assistance that Sgt. Leonard gave Oakland University last spring.  His shift was dispatched to a serious traffic crash at Pioneer and Squirrel. When he got there- no crash.  So he turned eastbound on Pioneer and found the crash at the big curve on Pioneer east of Library Drive.  Oakland University officers were already on scene.  Tragically, a jogger had been hit by a car and was killed.  OU Chief Mark Gordon was on scene himself and later told me that in 30 years at University Police he couldn’t recall that there had ever been a fatal traffic crash.  So not surprisingly, fatal crash investigation wasn’t a strong suit of University Police–they never needed to do it.  This is where Sgt. Leonard comes in.   He is a specialist and leads the SOCCIT team–the South Oakland County Crash Investigation Team.  The team is made up of crash investigators from Troy, Auburn Hills, Bloomfield Hills,  and Bloomfield Township.  They investigate serious and fatal crashes in any of the member communities.  We are able to save money and maintain the high skills required for this kind of highly specialized investigation.  Rick has the training and access to the resources needed to conduct this type of investigation.

At the request of Chief Gordon, Sgt. Leonard took the initial lead investigator role:  interview of the driver, search for evidence (including electronic evidence) and reconstruction of the scene for analysis of the cause of the crash.  When he finished his part the case was handed back to OU.  Chief Gordon and his staff were in charge at all times–we just helped.  Ultimately the driver was prosecuted and Sgt. Leonard was prepared to assist with testimony.

Fatal crashes are terrible.  A family loses a loved one too soon and in such a sudden fashion that it is hard to comprehend–there one minute, gone the next.  It is very important that investigations of this type are completed in a timely and competent fashion for the sake of the family, any survivors, the accused and the community.  Causal factors must be examined in detail with an eye to any potential necessary remedy.   If the causal factor is human action, then that needs to be brought before a court for judgement.

We were happy to share our resources with our OU neighbors when they needed it.  We are neighbors who help each other when a need arises.  Chief Gordon and I talk frequently about things of mutual interest.

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OU officers have helped us many, many times when we had too many calls and too few officers to make all those calls.  They have responded to help until we could free someone up to get there.  Officers on the street know each other and work well together.  No town/gown conflict here.

We appreciated today’s recognition of Rick by OUPD.  Actually it was a first –no AHPD officer had ever received a recognition by OU.  It was special to Rick for another reason–because his father, retired OU police chief Dick Leonard was with us this morning.  So you see, OU has been a big part of Rick’s life since he was a child.  It makes the honor even sweeter.

Even Grizz even made an appearance for some photos!

Click here for a link to the story in the Oakland Post.



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I'm the Chief of Police for the Auburn Hills Police Department.