MSP exhibit trains parents to spot troubles

News Photo by Julie Riddle Trooper Ashley Simpson of the Michigan State Police-Alpena Post helped create the In Plain Sight trailer that trains parents about warning signs that their children may be making questionable decisions.

ALPENA–A tricked-up trailer provided by the Michigan State Police-Alpena Post offers parents a sneak peek into their children’s bedrooms.

The top-secret trailer, for adult eyes only, is outfitted to look like a typical teenager’s room. At first glance, all seems to be in order. But, as the outside of the trailer proclaims, “looks can be deceiving.”

The Alpena Post’s In Plain Sight trailer offers parents a chance to learn to spot signs their child may be involved in illegal or unhealthy behavior. The walk-through display features everyday items that may mean nothing to a parent but should trigger concern that their child is struggling with drug abuse or making other poor choices.

Trooper Ashley Simpson of the Alpena Post was instrumental in making the trailer a reality. Taking the idea from a similar project seen at a conference, local troopers secured a grant for the furnishings from Catholic Human Services, which donated the trailer, as well. Items rounded up from local thrift stores completed the trailer, which is now ready to make its public debut.

Parents not immersed in their children’s lives or in today’s culture often don’t know the signs of risky behavior. A quick glance around a room to an untrained eye won’t reveal the unexpected clues that are to be found in everyday objects.

“It’s easy to hide, and that’s what this trailer is for,” Simpson said. “It’s to help those parents who are questioning how to guide their children in the right direction, away from the problems that could be starting out small.”

Parents, guardians, teachers, and any interested adults are invited to a public viewing of the In Plain Sight trailer at the Alpena Post on Thursday. Troopers and Catholic Human Services staff will be available to explain the warning signs displayed in the trailer and offer guidance to parents wanting to know what steps to take if they discover troubling items in their child’s possession.

The trailer will travel throughout the region during the summer, making stops at festivals and other public events. Informational materials will be available, and parents may be able to take home a drug-testing kit.

The In Plain Sight trailer was financially supported by the Huron Undercover Narcotics Team, Up North Prevention (a program of Catholic Human Services), the Northern Michigan Regional Entity, and the Strike Team Investigative Narcotics Group.

Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, jriddle@thealpenanews.com or on Twitter @jriddleX.