(Auburn Hills Police Chief Doreen Olko, April 25, 2017)
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 – 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 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 and asking 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.