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Deputy Todd Frank to retire after 29 years of service

Deputy Todd Frank, a well-known officer in  Cedar Springs, is retiring after 29 years of  service in law enforcement.

By Judy Reed

Deputy Todd Frank, 53, of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, has come full circle. He started his first full-time job as a police officer working for the Cedar Springs Police Department in 1995, and within a couple of weeks, he will end his career here as well, after 25 years with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. 

But a lot has happened in between.

Dep. Frank grew up in Kentwood and graduated from Kellogsville High School. He attended Grand Rapids Junior College (GRCC) to get a radiology degree, but then switched to criminal justice, and also attended the police academy. From 1993-1995, he was with the Kent County Sheriff Reserve; from 1993-1994 he had a part time job with the Lake Odessa Police Department; and in 1995, he was hired full time by the Cedar Springs Police Department. In 1997, he was hired as a county patrol officer by the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

He’s done a variety of things in his line of work besides patrol officer, including working with the district emergency unit; being a community police officer; teaching a variety of safety courses such as hunting, boating, and snowmobiling, and working as a school resource officer at Kent City Schools after the Columbine shootings. For the last several years, he’s worked out of the KCSO Cedar Springs Unit as one of the city’s dedicated police officers.

In 2018, Captain David Kok, Road patrol commander with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office (left) presented Deputy Todd Frank (R) with a Life Saving award for his rescue of an 11-year-old from a 2017 fire at Cedar Springs Mobile Estates. Photo courtesy of Deputy Ryan Morin.

What does Frank like about his job? “I’ve always hated bullies. I like being an advocate for the underdogs. There are a lot of evil, cruel people out there, and a lot of people that need help,” he explained. He added that a lot of people will come up and thank him for something he did, when he just felt he was doing his job. “It may have been a little thing to me, but it was a big thing for them.” 

Frank has faced a lot of horrific things in his career. His very first week on the job in Cedar Springs, he went to the scene of a fire at Cedar Springs Mobile Estates. He tried to save a baby that was inside. “She was already gone,” he said sadly. “I was almost killed by smoke inhalation.”

During his last week with the Cedar Springs Police Department, there was another fire in Cedar Springs Mobile Estates. This time two people died in the fire.

“For a long time I would hear a fire tone and just feel sick to my stomach,” he said.

Throughout his career, Frank has tried to be a force for good—sometimes in a superhero kind of way.

In 2017, when he was back here in Cedar Springs, there was another fire, in the same park. And this time, he received a lifesaving award for saving the life of an 11-year-old boy who had went back into the burning home to retrieve a pet. A sofa was blocking entry through the front door, and black smoke was rolling out. Frank then found a window and smashed it and began yelling for the boy. He saw the boy run past then disappear in the smoke. “He was scared. I was afraid he was going to get smoke inhalation,” remarked Frank.

When the boy ran by again, Deputy Frank reached inside and grabbed him and pulled him outside.

“I did what any deputy would do under those circumstances,” he said. “Any of us would do the same thing.” He was pleased that it had a happier ending, with the entire family—including a newborn and the pets—getting out safely.

This was not first time Frank has been recognized for an action. He and another officer tackled a suicidal subject who was going to jump off the overpass on M57 that runs over US131. He received a commendation for that, too.

The Post asked Frank how he deals with the all the traumatic things he encounters. “I see a lot of horrific things, but I don’t dwell on it,” he explained. “I have a lot of things I enjoy doing, especially in nature—hiking, kayaking, archery, bowhunting, photography. I stay busy. You have to leave your job at work. Some don’t handle it well, but I’ve been fortunate.”

Frank said that mostly, he tries to remember the funny things that happen. He said he once had to do a well-being check on someone in Cedar Springs, and couldn’t get in the front door, so needed to go in through the second-floor window. He and another deputy had to use a bucket truck from the DPW. “I was trying to figure out how to operate the bucket truck, and I think the deputy down below was taking pictures to document my imminent death,” he said with a laugh. He did finally end up getting in through the window.

Frank recalled another funny incident when he was off-duty. He was returning from a Halloween party, and he still had his Batman costume on. He got behind a drunk driver, who exited on the same ramp he was getting off on, and he knew he had to pull him over and call it in. So he blocked the guy in, but couldn’t get out of his costume. So he got out of his car and talked to the guy, with his Batman cape flapping in the breeze. The guy’s eyes grew wide. “He kept calling me ‘Batman, officer, sir,’” said Frank with a laugh. 

Frank has seen a lot of changes over the years. For instance, he said his class was the last one to be trained to use revolvers. After that, they switched to semi-automatics. Police also didn’t carry tasers, or cell phones. They had a pager. And there are several things that seem all too common-place now, that were rarities in the 1990s: suicide attempts, school shootings; a lack of respect for authority; and more. He noted that technology has brought a lot of changes, including computer crimes and cell phone and social media use. Mental health issues also loom large. 

“The types of calls change, but the core of the work stays the same,” he said.

Frank has loved working in northern Kent County. He still lives in the area with his wife and has two grown daughters. One is a social worker, and the other is a police cadet. 

“It has been an honor to serve everyone in northern Kent and all across Kent County,” he said. “We have one of the best sheriff departments in the state. I work with great people.” He noted that they have a lot of new hires coming in, and he encourages people interested in making it a career to go for it. 

“It’s a rewarding career if you stick with it. Conduct yourself in a professional manner, and you’ll never have a problem,” he said.

What does he have planned for the future? Frank said he plans to pick up photography again and do some guided steelhead trips on the Muskegon River. “I really like doing that,” he said.

Frank’s last day on the job is February 13, with his retirement effective March 1.

Thank you, Deputy Todd Frank, for your willingness to serve us here in Cedar Springs, and across Kent County!

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