Keeping Lowell Safe: Police Beat for April 2021

When it came to criminal activity, April was a relatively quiet month for the Lowell Police Department. However, the department saw a number of personnel changes in the past month. These include a new officer and clerk as well as the loss of one valued officer who is moving to a position with the Kent County Sherriff’s Department.

There are more details on those changes below, but first, here’s a snapshot of department activity for April 2021:

  • 39 calls for assistance to citizens
  • 17 calls for assistance to other agencies
  • 10 total arrests
  • 6 traffic accidents
  • 6 disorderly conduct
  • 4 verbal assaults
  • 4 malicious destruction of property
  • 4 ordinance violations
  • 4 larcenies/retail fraud
  • 3 dog/animal complaints
  • 1 assault

Plus, in April, the department made 150 traffic stops and issued 38 citations as a result.

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Updates on Criminal Cases

The police department reports criminal activity at one property has slowed considerably. While police made a number of arrests at the home in previous months, there were reportedly none made in April. While neighbors continue to call about suspicious activity, the police say there has been no visible illegal activity.

Last month, two separate groups of juveniles broke into various school buildings and the Foreman Building at Recreation Park. The damage to the schools came to a total of $260,000. The cost reflects the extensive work needed to remove residue from fire extinguishers from the ventilation system and books in the library. At the Foreman Building, initial estimates for damages range from $3,000-$6,000.

It is expected that restitution will be requested in both cases to help cover the costs.

Staffing Changes at the Lowell Police Department

While criminal cases were relatively quiet last month, Police Chief Chris Hurst had a busy month in April juggling interviews for several new positions.

First, he interviewed four internal candidates to fill a vacant full-time position. To select the best candidate, he created a three-part interview process which included a traditional interview, a simulated drunk driving stop and the creation of a police report for the stop. Hurst said his goal was to select an officer who was both knowledgeable about policing practices as well as had the hands-on skills needed to be effective in the field. In the end, Officer Ian Shears was selected for the full-time spot.

Officer Andy Coaker is sworn in by City Clerk Sue Ullery. Photo courtesy of Lowell Police Department.

The promotion of Shears left a vacant part-time position on the force. That spot is being filled by Officer Andy Coaker, who previously held a part-time position with the force from 2017-2020. While he left to pursue other career options, Coaker apparently decided there was no place better than Lowell and contacted the police department earlier this spring to inquire into any openings.

Coaker’s selection as a part-time officer brings the force up to full staffing but only temporarily. Officer Jesalyn Heard will be leaving mid-month for a position with the Kent County Sherriff’s Department. In a press release, the Lowell Police Department had this to say about Heard’s time on the force.

We would like to say reluctant farewell and good luck to Officer Jesalyn Heard. Jesalyn started with Lowell PD in January of 2020. Jesalyn earned a Police Chief’s Commendation for voluntarily helping out one of our merchants in need, going above and beyond what is expected. Jesalyn also took on the Showboat Social District assignment along the Main St, where she has gained several fans. Not only will Lowell PD miss her so will her fans along the Riverwalk. Jesalyn has been offered a full-time position with the Kent County Sheriff Department. Her last shift with us will be Friday evening along the Riverwalk, May 14th.

Eileen DeVries is the new police department clerk. Photo courtesy of Lowell Police Department.

There is also a staff change behind the front desk at the police department. Kathy Butts retired for family reasons and received a Police Chief Commendation for her professionalism and dedication to the department.

With her retirement, the police clerk position will be filled with Eileen DeVries. Hurst notes that she was far and away the most qualified candidate for the position. She spent 10 years with the Kent County Sheriff Department, including time as a road deputy and detective. Then, she switched careers to become an office manager at a local business.

“Eileen came highly recommended, having a law enforcement background and organization skills, [and] she was a perfect fit for the position,” Hurst said in a press release.

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