THE OWOSSO KIWANIS CLUB hosted a special educational event in recognition of law enforcement on Tuesday, Aug. 21. Det. Lt. Andrea Munford (left) and Det. Amy Ray from the MSU Police Dept. were the guest speakers for the evening. Both Munford and Ray received a tribute from the Owosso Kiwanis Club in recognition of their efforts, relative to the recent MSU Nassar case, in informing other communities on identifying potential threats, helping victims and being proactive working with local advocacy resource centers.
Ultimately, the hope is that this information will be utilized beyond the university level, since it is needed in the public school system and community level, as well.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
The Owosso Kiwanis Club held a unique, educational event to honor law enforcement on Tuesday, Aug. 21 at Memorial Healthcare. A number of area law enforcement individuals attended the event, including Sheriff Brian BeGole along with other members of the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Dept., Owosso Director of Public Safety Kevin Lenkart, Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matt Stewart and several others. Approximately 75 individuals attended, mostly civilians, seeking to listen to a timely and critical message presented by guest speakers, Amy Ray and Andrea Munford, both employed with the MSU Police Dept.
Det. Amy Ray, who was the first to speak, was raised in Owosso, graduated from MSU and went on to the Lansing Police Academy. She served as a police officer for ten years in Owosso, achieving sergeant status, prior to moving on to MSU. Ray was awarded the Meritorious Service Award last May for her “effective, intelligent effort” with her involvement in a case where she recognized that a student displayed both suicidal and homicidal ideation and needed mental health treatment. The student had thoughts of threatening a roommate, other students on campus and even her parents.
Det. Lt. Andrea Munford, also an MSU graduate, has worked for the MSU Police Dept. for 21 years, including five years on a cold case team. Munford was the lead investigator in the international Nassar case and is a member of the campus special victims unit. Both guest speakers were knowledgeable in presenting complex psychological information in a condensed, but thorough manner, to an audience that was not necessarily versed in the field.
Ray detailed her experience with BTAT (Behavioral Threat Assessment Team), explaining that after what had occurred at Virginia Tech, a number of universities had pushed for behavioral threat education. As Ray shared, the team analyzes reports for at-risk students or employees, aids in campus safety education and teaches people “what to report, how to report it.” She discussed the differences in targeted violence verses reactive violence – where targeted violence is not random and generally is the result of “some type of ideation that has happened over time.”
Ray went on to discuss the “Path of Violence” scientific model utilized on campus. The steps on this “Path of Violence” begin with a grievance (motive) and move to ideation (where the grievance becomes justifiable), research, preparation, breach and attack. Ray helps identify where someone might be along this “Path of Violence” in a proactive, preventative manner established to “prevent violence and protect the community.” A few of the factors that are researched include questioning “is there a history or pattern, or is this just now occurring in their life?” Mental health, physical health, medications, hospitalizations, suicide attempts, access or ownership of weapons – are all factors that are scrutinized. More information on BTAT can be found online at btat.msu.edu.
Munford spoke briefly about how her training on the cold case homicide task force helped her to learn “how to work a large investigation, how to collaborate with other agencies and other departments on a big scale,” referencing the recent Nassar case. She strongly emphasized information about “Trauma Informed Investigation” processes, sharing that this type of investigation is particularly important for special victims units. “I want everyone to think about how you can apply this to your every day life,” Munford suggested. “Any contact you have, any one of us might be the person that someone chooses to disclose” a trauma. “Trauma Informed” is about coming to the understanding of how physical elements, social elements and emotional elements, all impact trauma. Ultimately, faced with a traumatic event, nobody truly knows how they might react.
Munford suggested seeking out more information on YouTube by searching for Dr. Rebecca Campbell, who has a series available on the neurobiology of trauma. Munford also suggested being aware of local advocacy resources “to help steer people in your community” in the right direction. “This started out with one victim,” she stated about Nassar. “One victim called me and said this is what this doctor did to me 16 years ago.” Munford purposefully avoided focusing on Nassar, instead continuing to discuss the trauma survivors and the absolute need for positive advocacy and being “victim-centered.”
“Everybody that is here has a really invested interest in making your community safe, making it healthy, making it a good place to live,” said Munford. “Anytime someone comes to you with an experience they want to share, your reaction can make a difference in whether it helps or re-traumatizes them.”
Ray and Munford were both honored by the Owosso Kiwanis Club for their involvement in helping with the Nassar case, though the ultimate message presented on Tuesday evening went far beyond that – pointing out that the MSU Police Dept. strongly hopes that their educational message of recognizing the “Path of Violence” and dealing with “Trauma Informed Investigation” will reach beyond the university level as community members recognize the need for it in the public school system, in athletics, local activities and similar areas.