I’ve never met anyone quite like retired Lansing Police Lieutenant Traci Ruiz. Her passion and dedication to helping others, especially senior citizens, clearly defines her a hero in my book!
There is a peaceful energy you get just by being in her presence and I think you’ll agree with me that she is a driving force for positive change in our community, especially for the elderly!
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Pardon my delay in answering your questions Bob. (Side note. It only took her a couple of weeks. Typically, I can wait up to a month for people to respond) I help care for a 99-year-old, a 94-year-old who had a mini-stroke, and recently had an autistic 18-year-old living with us. Did I mention my family is used to different people being in our house-lol!
I have been a strong proponent of justice, which I believe should be equal for all, as well as safety, which should be accessible for everyone. My late Christian, Mexican grandparents, Domingo and Gumecinda Ruiz inspire me and remain with me in all that I do. Their hardships as migrant workers with elementary educations, lack of funds, but resounding family values pushed me to reach for the stars. Their unconditional love shined through each day and they would continue to be proud, no matter what job I selected.
“Pride” and “like” were two different topics for my grandmother when it came to my law enforcement career choice. Though she was very proud of me, she continued to ask why I wanted to do “that dirty job,” and urged me to consider nursing.
DO YOU HAVE A LESSON OR THOUGHT TO SHARE?
The elderly are still the forgotten population in America. We lack proper laws to adequately protect senior citizens, so it is inspiring to provide a voice for them and seek justice on their behalf.
I have been told many times we cannot do X, Y, and Z because there is a lack of funds. I believe there is always a way over, under, around, or through, which has proven true when advocating for victims of elder abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
Spending half of my 25-year career as an investigator and the other half in patrol, I came across many heinous crimes where assistance was available with prosecution, healing, and recovery. However, services are clearly lacking when it comes to the elder community, especially abuse involving domestic violence and sexual assault.
I suspected elder homicides early on in my detective career, which could not be proven due to lack of thorough investigation and financial resources. I approached then Lansing Police Chief Mark Alley. He was a strong community advocate and supporter of elder progress. He authorized the start of an elder death review team. This led me to meet with then Ingham County Medical Director and Medical Examiner Dr. Dean Sienko to create an Ingham County Elder Death Review Team. We hosted monthly meetings and stakeholders attended from the Tri-County area to not only review elder death cases, but also severe senior abuse cases. The team became a vehicle to move elder progress and also work toward prevention. For the first time we utilized medical examiners and medical examiner investigators for older adult death scenes and advocated for stronger elder bills/rights. This team also provided training and guidance for law enforcement and fire agencies, prosecutors, and numerous service providers around the state.
Autopsies, combined with toxicology, gave the evidence needed for prosecution. Our first two team elder death review cases ended up being ruled as homicides and we would have never caught them without an autopsy combined with toxicology reports. Community members considered this a big win when the perpetrator was prosecuted and sentenced to prison for our first case. However, it led me to question how many more cases had been overlooked and to continue on the quest for elder advancement.
The Ingham County Death Review Team was formed without any funds and combined service providers from the Tri-County area. I volunteered my time and co-chaired the team with Dr. Sienko from 2006-2012. He was also a major advocate for the elderly and provided resources necessary for autopsies and toxicology. This is one example of what can be done by a small group of people passionate about working towards positive progress.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH STRESS?
Exercise has always been my go-to for stress relief. Strong mind/Strong body. That motto has kept me safe, as well as carried me through a 25-year career in law enforcement and beyond. Well, except for the darn car which hit me at 50+ MPH and nearly killed me, but that is a whole other story and not enough time!
ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SHARE:
Though I close over two decades of a successful police career, the community is what I enjoyed most about the job and remain committed to a life of serving the public through Ruiz Consultants, LLC. The overarching umbrella of the business is Safety-Prevention, Preparedness, and Awareness; Office assessments, self-defense training, elder abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault education, attorney court preparation, expert witness testimony and much more. Endless Possibilities. Infinite Solutions. Ruiz Consultants, LLC…positively impacting one life at a time.
For more information on the Traci Ruiz and Tri-County TRIAD please watch her segment on FOX 47 MORNING BLEND at https://bit.ly/2q9seMs
And visit the Tri-County TRIAD website at www.tricountytriad.org