Keeping Lowell Safe: Police Beat for April 2018

It wasn’t just a late season ice storm that was notable in April. It was also a month of mail fraud, retail fraud and thrown milk jugs.

We’ve got a breakdown of some of the more interesting cases from the Lowell Police Department, but first, let’s look at the numbers. Here’s how April played out for the department in terms of major calls and cases:

  • 4 accidents
  • 11 assists to other law enforcement agencies
  • 9 medical calls
  • 1 drunk driver
  • 4 assault and battery cases

Now, let’s take a closer look at some individual cases.

Opioid Death from March Confirmed

During an interview for the March Police Beat, Chief Steve Bukala mentioned there was a suspected opioid death in the city during that month. However, it was still being investigated. This month, Bukala confirmed that the death was attributable to misuse of fentanyl, a prescription drug that is intended for cancer patients and others with pain that cannot be controlled by other medications.

While the Lowell Police Department didn’t provide any additional details on this case, Lowell’s First Look asked if there was anything people could do if they thought a loved one was at risk because of substance abuse. Bukala mentioned the non-profit Red Project provides resources related to overdose prevention.

What’s more, while people are sometimes hesitant to call for help for fear of getting in trouble because of illegal drug use, a Michigan Good Samaritan Law was passed in 2016 to prevent drug possession charges against those who seek medical assistance for an overdose. This law is intended to encourage people to request medical help immediately for someone who may have overdosed on drugs.

If you or someone you know suffers from a substance abuse addiction, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for a free and confidential referral to local treatment options.

One Drunk Driver in the City in April

The lone drunk driver in the city limits last month was a 21-year old who had a school address in East Lansing. The driver had several passengers in the car.

An officer pulled over the vehicle for having its headlights off. An odor of intoxicants was observed, and a field sobriety test was conducted. The driver’s blood alcohol level was .13. The legal limit in Michigan is .08.

The driver was transported to the county jail where he refused a breath test there, and a warrant was obtained for a blood draw to confirm the blood alcohol level.

Another Drunk Driver Outside the City in April

While the Lowell Police Department only had one drunk driving case inside the City of Lowell, they did assist the Kent County Sherriff’s Department with a second case outside the city limits.

The Sheriff’s Department asked the Lowell Police to respond to a car crash on Oberly and secure the scene until someone from the county arrived. Lowell Police found a female driver trying to leave the scene. She had an open Bud Light in the vehicle and was charged with drunk driving by the county.

An Unhappy Break-Up

The Lowell Police Department were notified of an alleged assault in the Tractor Supply Company parking lot.

A boy reported he had decided to stop dating a girl and was confronted by the female’s father. The father wanted the boy to leave his daughter alone, and it was reported that the father lifted his shirt to reveal a gun. This was taken as a threat.

The father has a concealed pistol permit and stated that his shirt inadvertently lifted as he was leaving his vehicle. He also said the boy put something in a car that led to the altercation.

No charges were filed, but the male making the report is said to be seeking a personal protection order against the father.

Brazen Theft at Meijer

In another assist to the Kent County Sherriff’s Department, Lowell Police responded to a call of retail fraud at Meijer. Not only did a male subject try to steal a fifth of Fireball whiskey, but he opened it and started drinking it in the store. He was arrested.

Lowell Targeted by Regional Fraud Ring

Some residents on Gee Drive discovered people were trying to open HSBC credit cards in their names. The scammers used notification emails from the Post Office to determine when the cards were to be delivered and waited near mailboxes to snatch them once they arrived.

Fortunately, a sharp-eyed resident noticed something suspicious and alerted the police. Because of the number of residents affected, the Lowell Police Department has been working with the Sherriff’s Office, Secret Service and Postal Inspector to track down the suspects. It appears they are from the Kalamazoo-Portage area and have pulled off similar scams near the lakeshore.

“We encourage people to routinely check their credit report,” Bukala says. Plus, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone if you see something that doesn’t seem quite right. “As always, if you see someone messing around your mailbox, call immediately.”

Shouldn’t Have Crossed That Bridge

If you didn’t already know, it’s a serious crime to use someone else’s Bridge Card. That’s a lesson some Lowell residents may be learning the hard way.

The Bridge Card replaced paper food stamps as the way the government distributes nutritional assistance to qualifying residents. A male and female from Lowell were apparently using the Bridge Card of a man housed at the Kent County Jail. Surveillance video shows the suspects using the card at Sam’s Club on 28th Street and other locations.

The male suspect has been charged while the female has agreed to be a witness. The suspect in jail, who apparently willingly handed over his Bridge Card, is in the process of having his benefits revoked.

In an unrelated event, the male suspect was also caught stealing from the Lowell Dollar General and had a warrant issued for retail fraud, second degree in addition to the charges in connection to the misuse of the Bridge Card.

Not So Much Sibling Love

The Lowell Police were called to a domestic dispute in which a brother threw a gallon of milk at his sister. The brother left the residence for a while to separate the two parties. A report was submitted to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office, but that office declined to press charges.

“Mishap” in the Parking Lot

In another domestic dispute, a female reportedly hit a male in the face in the parking lot next to the Police Department. While the male was gone when an officer arrived, he was later contacted and said the exchange was just a little mishap between he and his girlfriend.

The police are obligated to send reports of assault to the Prosecutor’s Office regardless of whether the victim wishes to press charges. A report was filed in this case, but the Prosecutor declined to pursue it.

Can’t Fool the Cops

During a traffic stop, a male subject said he had no identification. He gave the officer a name – which later was discovered to be his brother’s name – and then was visibly nervous.

After further questioning, the male subject provided his real name, and it was discovered his license was suspended. He was issued a citation for driving with a suspended license.

He Said, She Said

Two females got into a verbal altercation that led to the police eventually being called. One was the ex-girlfriend of a man. The other female was the man’s new girlfriend.

When police arrived, they noticed the ex-girlfriend was intoxicated and visibly unsteady on her feet. She said she had only had four glasses of wine.

When the boyfriend arrived home, he was upset that a baby inside was apparently not being properly watched. The ex-girlfriend said that during the altercation, the male pushed her down onto the sidewalk. The male said she slipped and fell. The police noted her blood alcohol level was .3.

A report about the situation was sent to the Prosecutor’s Office which declined to press any charges.

Trouble at the Dog Park

The police received a report of a disorderly person at the dog park.

The commotion was prompted by a previous park visit when it was alleged that one dog injured another dog. However, at that time, the dogs were apparently inspected and no damage to either animal noted.

During their next visit to the dog park, the male party told the female party she should watch her dog. She denied her dog had done anything wrong and became upset. He said she was following him. She said he was yelling profanities.

No charges were filed.

Gaming on Someone Else’s Dime

Officers responded to a case of credit card fraud in the city. A mother said her son’s friend had used her credit card to make unauthorized PlayStation purchases. Overall, 16 charges totaling $357.87 were made. While the mother was able to reverse three of those charges, the other 13 went through.

Apparently, the son and his friend had removed the credit card from the mother’s purse while she was napping. The friend had apparently had done similar things with his own parent’s credit cards.

The case was sent to juvenile court.

In the Park After Dark

Lowell city parks close at dusk, and officers checked on a vehicle parked at Stoney Lakeside Park after hours. In it, they found a 15-year old female and an 18-year old male.

The male said they were just talking, but state law sets an 11pm curfew for those younger than age 16. The officer asked for identification and discovered the 18-year old was on probation. He had a collapsible baton under his car seat and a warrant was issued for having a concealed weapon.

Meanwhile, it was learned the girl had been previously reported as a runaway from elsewhere in Kent County.

Livestreaming While Driving

The Lowell Police Department Facebook page received a message of a female livestreaming a fire in the city while driving. Since this could be in violation of state’s no-texting law, the police located the driver. It appeared she had her phone mounted to her dashboard.

The police note this could still be considered a violation of state law because, while she may not have been holding the phone, she likely had to type in some information to start the livestream. However, it does not appear a citation was issued in this case.

Those are the highlights but certainly not all the Lowell PD did during April. Thank you officers for your hard work!

1 Comment

  1. Great work..Lowell is fortunate to have such a dedicated team of officers! Fentanyl patches are tricky..even when removed, drug continues to be released for 8-12 hours from skin reservoir..If being used for “basal” pain control with meds like Norco or Percocet used for breakthrough pain, it can. lead to over sedation and respiratory depression. Patients can be in trouble before they realize it. Always important to carry a med list, and be cautious with any opiate…Hopefully we can work together to reduce and focus their use and emphasize more safety measures!

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