Officers may come and go, but Dave Oesch has been a constant presence in the Lowell Police Department for nearly 20 years.
“I’ve been through five [police] chiefs, and I can’t say anything bad about any of them,” Oesch says.
The 58-year-old officer entered law enforcement later in the life and been a part-time member of the Lowell police force since 2002. During his time on the LPD, he’s made lifelong friends with colleagues and enjoyed being able to help citizens in a variety of situations.
Career Start in Corrections
Oesch initially graduated from the police academy when he was 20 years old. However, at the time – back in 1986 – jobs in law enforcement were scarce. With a brother already working in corrections, Oesch decided he would take that route as well.
For 33 years, until his retirement in 2019, Oesch worked for the State of Michigan as a corrections officer. While the job provided stability, there was always a nagging thought in the back of his head that he was meant to be doing something different.
“Law enforcement is always what I thought was my true calling,” he explains. So in 2000, Oesch headed back to Grand Rapids Community College to join the police academy once again. His previous certification had expired so it was necessary to complete the program a second time.
By this point in his life, Oesch was married and had three children. Going to the police academy meant balancing work, school and family life, but he preserved. After graduation, Oesch kept his job with corrections but also found part-time work as a police officer in Lowell.
Helping People During their Worst Moments
As a police officer, Oesch says responding to calls is his favorite part of the job. Every call is different, and he often has the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
At the same time, Oesch understands that not everyone is thrilled by a visit from the police. “It sounds pretty cliché, but you deal with people at their worst times,” he explains.
He likens the role of a police officer to that of a referee in a football game. People may take out their anger on the referee even if that person isn’t responsible for whatever is making them mad. Citizens may lash out because they perceive a situation as being unfair, and the challenge for police officers is to determine how to respond effectively and with understanding.
Fortunately, not all police work involves high-stakes situations. For instance, Oesch remembers once stopping to help a snapping turtle safely cross South Hudson Street. To avoid risking any fingers in the encounter, Oesch let the turtle bite down on his baton and then lifted the reptile using the baton and its tail.
While born and raised in Grand Rapids, Oesch has deep connections to Lowell, and his grandparents owned a farm just north of town. He is proud to be part of the Lowell Police Department and hopes residents feel likewise.
When asked for any final thoughts about the department, he sums it up by saying: “I think the people living in Lowell are very fortunate to have a law enforcement force of this caliber.”