For Ian Shears, the best part of being a police officer is the opportunity to make connections in the community. From chatting with residents to handing out stickers to kids, he loves being able to serve in a small town.
“I went to Grandville for a few months,” he explains. “They have a great department over there, but it wasn’t a good fit for me.”
In a bigger city, everyone felt anonymous, and he missed the conversations that seemed to naturally occur when making the rounds in Lowell. After a short stint in Grandville, he returned to the Lowell Police Department where he has since received accolades from colleagues and community members alike.
Public Service Runs in the Family
Shears always had his eye on a career in public service. He remembers hearing his grandmother’s stories about other relatives involved in the field, including two great cousins in law enforcement who were killed in the line of duty in the 1900s.
“Public service has always been (valued) in our family,” Shears says.
So after graduating from NorthPointe Christian High School and taking classes at Central Michigan University, Shears decided to enrolled in the police academy at Grand Rapids Community College. Ten months later, in 2015, he graduated and then came to Lowell as a part-time officer in 2016. Other than those few months in Grandville, the 29-year-old has spent his entire law enforcement career here.
In addition to working part-time as a police officer, Shears recently joined the Lowell Fire Department as a paid on-call firefighter. For him, it’s one more way to serve the community he loves.
Life Saving Citation and Top Shot Honors
As part of a small police force, Shears says he likes being able to open an investigation and follow it through to its conclusion. However, his most memorable call had nothing to do with a crime.
“I went to a call where an elderly woman was choking,” he recalls. “I was able to dislodge the food and open up [her] airway.” The woman made a complete recovery, and Shears is grateful he was there to help. As a result of his quick response in the incident, he was awarded a Life Saving Citation last year.
That wasn’t the only honor bestowed upon Shears by the Lowell Police Department in 2020, though. He was also crowned the department’s “Top Shot” thanks to his excellent marksmanship. During regular training sessions, officers go through a series of timed exercises that gauge their accuracy. The person with the best score overall is the year’s Top Shot.
It’s a good-natured competition among officers, and the winner is quick to remind others in the department of his coveted title. “I like to gloat a little,” Shears admits.
Striving for Excellence
Even off the job, Shears is looking for ways to improve his service to the community. Rather than tuning into Netflix in the evening, he is often reading online to learn more about the latest news in law enforcement as well as brushing up on topics such as case law and policing tactics.
“If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to violate someone’s Constitutional rights,” Shears says, and that’s the last thing he wants to happen on his watch.
Overall, Shears wants residents to know that the department is committed to being accessible and approachable. “We’re a good group of people,” he says. “We’re there to help, and we’re all really friendly.”
However, anyone who has met Officer Shears probably already knows that. With a quick smile and a friendly demeanor, he personifies the type of public servant who should make us all proud.