Det. Amy Ray
by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
Michigan State University Police Dept. Det. Amy Ray, who was raised in Owosso, attended Salem Lutheran and was an officer for the city from 2004 until 2014, was awarded the Meritorious Service Award from Chief of Police James Dunlap on Wednesday, May 16. The award reads, “the Meritorious Service Award is presented to an individual who has by effective, intelligent effort been personally responsible for, or assisted in, the improvement of the ability of the department to perform any phase of the responsibilities charged to it.” Ray was chosen because of her involvement in a case over a threat made by a student that was originally “presented as a minor roommate issue.” However, due to her diligence and professionalism, Ray recognized the student in question displayed both suicidal and homicidal ideation and was in need of mental health treatment. The student had thoughts of threatening her roommate, other students on campus, her parents, and had drawn from examples from cases at Virginia Tech and Columbine.
The MSU case investigation began in September 2017 after another student had overheard a conversation “about killing a roommate in their sleep.” The student took the correct path by reporting it to the campus police. “We want to emphasize report, report, report, just report it,” Ray shared. “This way we know a name, we know what is going on.” What could have potentially resulted in a mass homicide was detoured because one student was proactive, and Ray and the MSU investigative team were extremely quick to intervene.
Ray is a part of the Behavior Threat Assessment Team (BTAT) along with the Behavior Intervention Team (BIT) at MSU. BTAT is responsible for investigating all reported cases, and is particularly responsible for cases with a higher threat level, while BIT handles lower level risk cases. Ray and her partner investigate reported cases and assess “where the person of concern is in regards to the path of violence.” BIT includes a multidisciplinary team to aid in identifying “students of concern.” The idea is for the team to step in to support students and to “intervene with regard to disruptive or problematic behavior.” A complete guideline is available at btat.msu.edu, where it is suggested to report “anything that raises suspicion or concern.”
Regarding the case of the possible suicidal/homicidal student, a lengthy interview process allowed Ray and the MSU team to petition to have her placed in a hospital for medical/psychological intervention, and she was removed from the university.
“This student did not have access to any type of weaponry, but people who have an intent to do harm, can get access. There are a lot of things they can use,” Ray stated.
Ray’s parents are Jim Demis of AHP CPAs & Advisors, who resides with her step-mom, Carol, in Owosso, and Christine Demis who lives in Laingsburg. On becoming a detective, Ray shared she was inspired because, “I like the excitement. Nothing is ever the same. I enjoy the mobility of it. It might sound generic, but I get to see a lot of bad, but get to do a lot of good.”
As a side note, Ray joined the MSU Police Dept. in 2014 and was eventually involved in the Nassar case investigation in 2016 that has still not been fully resolved for the MSU investigative team. As many are aware, Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, a university employee and sports doctor for about 20 years, was sentenced to as much as 175 years after his perpetration of decades of sexual abuse against over 330 girls: many who were gymnasts, came to light. Reports are still coming into the department, though the number has slowed, in relation to that case.
Ray enthusiastically shared that she truly enjoys her job and is eager to continue in the team effort with the Michigan State University Police Department to educate the campus and the community on the importance of a quick response when a crime is identified or a situation is considered threatening. The BTAT team may be contacted at (517) 355-2222 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In an emergency situation, always call 911.