Keeping Lowell Safe: Police Beat for September 2020

Last month, the Lowell Police Department investigated a few larcenies, welcomed a new part-time officer and saw all members pass the state firearms assessment. When it came to patrolling the city, a significant amount of the department’s time was spent enforcing the speed limit along E. Main Street.

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

  • 59 calls for assistance to citizens
  • 14 calls for assistance to other agencies
  • 9 car accidents
  • 7 total arrests
  • 5 verbal assaults
  • 4 larcenies
  • 2 ordinance violations
  • 1 breaking and entering

Plus, the department made 89 traffic stops and issued 31 citations in September.

Speed Enforcement on E. Main Street

At the request of some residents and businesses, the Lowell Police Department stepped up speed enforcement on E. Main Street. The speed limit through the historic downtown is 25 miles per hour.

In total, the police stopped 37 vehicles during their September patrols of that section of road. Of those, 15 were pulled over for speeding. Others were stopped for different infractions such as missing license plates, broken headlights or running a red light at the intersection of Hudson and Main Streets. While the police report for the patrol period doesn’t list the speeds for three stops, the remaining vehicles were traveling between 32 to 47 miles per hour when they were pulled over.

In total, officers spent 56.5 hours on directed patrol on E. Main Street. Of that time, 4 hours and 48 minutes were spent with a stopped vehicle. Police Chief Chris Hurst says he will be reviewing data from the electronic speed signs on E. Main Street to determine if the patrol was successful in reducing overall traffic speeds.

The police may next focus on enforcing the two-hour parking limit on E. Main Street, Hurst says. Several business owners have expressed concern that cars remain in those spots for extended periods and make it difficult for customers to shop downtown.

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Tools and Equipment Stolen in Larcenies

There were two major larcenies in Lowell last month.

The first involved a bobcat and trailer stolen from Bernard’s Ace Hardware. The thief’s truck was recorded on a security camera and the image shared to Lowell Police Department’s Facebook page. The department has several leads, and Hurst says the vehicle in question may be involved in other crimes.

In another part of town, tools were stolen from a construction site. The tools were taken from inside a building that was not locked.

Hurst reminds residents that thieves usually take items that are easy to access. “Criminals aren’t like what you see on TV,” he says. “They aren’t carrying tools and picking locks.” Instead, they are trying doors and stealing from unlocked homes and vehicles. Therefore, the best defense against theft is often simply locking your doors.

The police department also recorded a larceny last month that ended up not actually being a larceny. A resident filed a report about a missing package, only to return home and find it.

All Officers Pass Firearms Qualification

Each year, Michigan police officers are required to pass a firearm assessment. Normally, the assessment would take place in the spring, but it was moved to the fall this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hurst notes all full-time and part-time officers with the Lowell Police Department qualified during the recent assessment, which covers the use of pistols, shotguns and rifles. To qualify, officers must demonstrate they are capable of firing accurately from multiple positions as well as reloading their firearm and correcting a malfunctioning weapon.

There is also a stress course which requires officers to move through different stations as quickly as possible. “It’s all on the clock,” Hurst says. “It’s as fast as you can [shoot targets] and as accurately as you can.”

Hurst adds that the Lowell Police Department goes above and beyond what is required by the state’s active duty firearms standard. The department trains multiple times during the year, and officers get extensive practice discharging their weapons during these sessions.

After this year’s qualifications, the department awarded two honors. Officer Ian Shears was “best in pistol” while Sergeant Scot VanSolkema was “best in rifle.” For two years running, the department’s lone full-time female officer, Aubrey Culver, has been the winner of the physical fitness award. To earn that, officers are judged against military standards for push-ups, sit-ups and a one-mile run.

In December, the department will hold a nighttime training session and then award its “best in night” and “top shot” honors.

New Officer on the Force

The Lowell Police Department also welcomed a new part-time officer last month. Jesalyn Heard, who previously worked for the Kentwood Police Department, has joined the Lowell force. Heard is friendly and outgoing, Hurst says, and will be an excellent addition to the department and community.

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