Keeping Lowell Safe: Police Beat for August 2020

As summer wound down, Lowell police officers spent their days assisting citizens, patrolling for speeders and processing handgun permit applications. They also investigated a case of embezzlement at the city’s first adult use marijuana retailer.

Here’s a snapshot of department cases from last month:

  • 61 calls for assistance to citizens
  • 18 calls for assistance to other agencies
  • 9 larcenies
  • 8 verbal assault
  • 7 car accidents
  • 6 total arrests
  • 1 disorderly conduct
  • 1 drunk driving
  • 1 drug law violation

Plus, the department made 72 traffic stops and issued 12 citations in August.

Top Case: Embezzlement at Meds Cafe

The most prominent case of the month involved charges of embezzlement at Meds Café. The city’s first adult use marijuana retailer apparently caught an employee taking marijuana from the store.

The employee, who was responsible for weighing marijuana for sale, allegedly grabbed some of the substance, put it into his pocket and walked out. A review of surveillance video indicates this was a one-time occurrence.

However, the employee contaminated the reminder of the marijuana in that lot, and it had to be destroyed. Therefore, the charge of embezzlement includes a request for the employee to pay restitution which, according to police, is a significant amount of money.

Officer-Involved Shooting Still Under Investigation

At the end of August, a Lowell police offer fired his weapon at a stolen vehicle that was reversing in his direction. A suspect was struck by the gunfire and incurred a minor injury to the arm. As is normal procedure, the officer was placed on administrative leave, and the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.

There is no definite timeline for when the investigation will be complete and, in the meantime, part-time officers have been filling in shifts as needed. Lowell Police Chief Chris Hurst says the last officer-involved shooting in the city occurred 34 years ago.

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Handgun Permits on the Increase

Hurst notes the department has seen an increase in handgun permit applications recently. That’s in line with his past experience. “It seems like every election a lot of people buy guns,” he says.

The police use a national database to conduct a background check before issuing a handgun permit. The permit form has three sections – one to be kept by the seller, one to be kept by the buyer and one to be returned to the police. “It’s almost like a title to a car,” Hurst says of the documentation.

Permits are required for private handgun sales but not for private long gun sales. If an individual is selling a rifle or shotgun to another individual, Hurst says they should write up a receipt indicating who made the purchase and keep a copy for their records.

New gun owners should be sure to get proper training on how to use, store and secure their weapon. “The biggest thing is safety,” Hurst says. “People don’t realize it isn’t like TV.” He notes a gun fired inside a building can easily travel through three walls.

For those who are concerned about personal security but aren’t confident in their ability to use a gun if needed, a Taser could be a good alternative. Hurst says those with a concealed pistol license (CPL) are eligible to carry a civilian Taser. This may also be an option for those with children who don’t want a gun in the house for that reason.

Speed Enforcement on E. Main Street

In response to citizen requests, the Lowell Police Department has stepped up speed enforcement on E. Main Street.

During the first week of September, 19 cars were stopped and 7 were ticketed. Hurst says he instructed his officers to ticket anyone going 10 miles per hour or greater above the speed limit. The highest speed recorded during that week was 47 miles per hour which occurred at approximately 8:30am.

Hurst notes that citizens have also mentioned issues with speeding on Bowes Road and other city streets. While officers are working to cover the entire city, there is usually only one vehicle patrolling per shift which means limited time for speed enforcement if other calls comes in. Hurst says, “We’re doing the best we can with what we have.”

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