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The multiagency SIU, which conducts electronic and visual surveillance, made a swift arrest in the suspect of the March slaying of a Troy mother while she was at home in her apartment at Somerset Park Apartments. After the investigators developed a suspect, SIU was put to work, and within 12 hours the team had Charles Anthony Stephens in custody.
"He was in a house, I don't recall why he was at that house, but it was in Detroit. He was charged with homicide and is awaiting trail in circuit court," said Scott McCanham, captain of investigations for Bloomfield Township Police Department, which staffs one full-time officer at the SIU office in Troy.
"He's assigned (at SIU) for two years, and he's our liaison with our detective bureau, so anything we may develop out of our bureau, he'll take it to SIU, and when they assign a priority to it, they will work it as they see fit – they have multiple cases going on at one time."
It's not guaranteed that SIU will take on a police department's case; rather, officers would talk it over with Troy commanders, who then conduct an assessment to determine if the case is right for the team, and where it would fall on the proverbial priority list. If the case involves a particularly violent crime, and the suspect is deemed to be extremely dangerous, the police department may call in the Oakland County Fugitive Apprehension Team instead.
"If we believe SIU can handle the case, they may assist us in picking up somebody, but in rare circumstances we've use Oakland County FAT. We've used both," said McCanham.
"Oakland County FAT is more well-suited for the potential of more violent crimes, that's my opinion. We can send SIU, whereas Oakland County FAT would go outside Oakland County boundaries. Special investigations or FAT tries to do our best to notify another jurisdiction that we'll be operating in their jurisdiction. Both teams run surveillance prior to taking any action, so they can take (the suspect) down at a time that they deem with a smaller chance of any more violence, or that person fleeing – to minimize any type of danger to the person or our officers."
Chief Steven Schettenhelm of the Rochester Police Department recalled when the city utilized the county's fugitive apprehension team in 2012 after a man used a sledgehammer to break into a jewelry case before escaping with thousands of dollars in merchandise.
"It was a smash and grab situation at a jewelry store. The individual smashed out the jewelry case to obtain Rolex watches, and ran out the door," said Schettenhelm. "We identified a suspect, obtained a warrant, and through (the team's) efforts, were able to get that person to turn himself in. It was only through their efforts of getting out into Detroit and the area. It became known to him that he would be arrested. He was in Detroit, and they were trying a number of places looking for him, and family members convinced him that it was in his best interested to turn himself in."...continued on page 8