Keeping Lowell Safe: Police Beat for April 2023

A “sovereign citizen,” hit and run accident in a parking lot and attempted break-in at a marijuana store were among the April cases for the Lowell Police Department. Police Chief Chris Hurst also says he has received an uptick in questions about the crosswalk on Main Street near the Riverwalk.

In total, the Lowell Police Department had 291 case reports filed for April, including the following:

  • 43 assists to other agencies
  • 26 general and motorist assists
  • 24 pistol permits and sales
  • 20 suspicious situations
  • 13 ordinance issues
  • 5 traffic accidents
  • 3 aggravated/felonious assaults
  • 2 disorderly conducts
  • 2 lock outs
  • 2 non-criminal domestic situations

Lowell officers also made 62 traffic stops that resulted in 2 citations.

April Cases

Other than an incident at the start of the month involving a person and a shotgun – and reported in last month’s Police Beat – there wasn’t anything particularly unusual about April, Hurst says.

Officers did stop a driver of an unregistered vehicle who had no license. The person claimed to be a “sovereign citizen” and a “traveler” who didn’t need a license or registration. The individual then attempted to leave the stop. The individual was known to police and a citation issued.

A young driver backed into another car at the library parking lot, panicked and then took off. Witnesses took down the license plate number and walked across the street to the police station to report the incident. Using information from the license plate, an officer was able to make contact with the driver’s parent, and the driver was ticketed for leaving the scene.

Marijuana retailer Joyology was the target of an attempted breaking and entering. An alarm was triggered at 4:11am, but officers responded quickly and the thieves didn’t make it inside. A picture of the vehicle and individuals was obtained and handed over to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office which has a unit investigating similar crimes that have occurred county-wide.

There was a domestic dispute between siblings after a ball game at a local park. As of the start of May, the incident was still being investigated.

Questions About Main Street Crosswalk

For years, there have been questions about how pedestrians and motorists should treat the crosswalk on Main Street by the Riverwalk.

Back in 2017, we were told that it is illegal to stop on a state highway and that pedestrians do not have the right-of-way there. A year later, then Police Chief Steve Bukala announced at the end of a Lowell City Council meeting that he had obtained permission from the Michigan Department of Transportation to direct motorists to stop for pedestrians trying to use the crosswalk.

As the current police chief, Hurst says that this section of the Michigan Administrative Code applies to the crosswalk:

(1) When traffic-control signals are not in place or are not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger, but a pedestrian shall not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into a path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

(2) A person who violates this rule is responsible for a civil infraction.

Hurst says it’s his understanding that vehicles aren’t obligated to stop for people standing near the curb and that pedestrians shouldn’t step into the roadway expecting drivers to stop. However, if walkers wait for a reasonable opening in the traffic to begin crossing safely, vehicles must yield to them. Hurst notes that the 25 mph speed limit should minimize the need for anyone to slam on their brakes.

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