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Tag Archive | "Kent County Sheriff Department"

Goodbye Sgt. Kelley


Sgt. Jason Kelley, formerly supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department, has taken on a new position in the investigative division. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

When the Cedar Springs Police Department dissolved in 2014, and the Kent County Sheriff Department took over policing for the City of Cedar Springs in a unique partnership, many residents weren’t sure how smooth the transition would be, or what to expect. But there was one person working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure it was everything residents expected and more—Sgt. Jason Kelley. 

Kelley has been in charge of the new Cedar Springs unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department for the last 3-1/2 years. As of this week, he took on a new assignment as Detective Sergeant with the investigative division. 

“We are both excited for and saddened by Sergeant Kelley’s promotion and departure from Cedar Springs,” said City Manager Mike Womack. “He has been a valuable asset to the community and he will be missed but we do wish him the best in his new position with the major cases unit.”

“I’ve really enjoyed working with the community, and being part of a smaller community,” remarked Kelley. “The residents have been great to work with on problem solving and any community policing efforts we’ve tried.”

As far as accomplishments, he said he feels that he and the deputies have forged a good relationship between the Sheriff Dept. and the citizens of Cedar Springs. “We have a highly visible patrol, and we’ve made contact with community members that we might not have if we had not been as visible,” he said.

Another accomplishment he’s been happy with is that of the placement of a school resource officer at Cedar Springs Public Schools. “That has been a great success,” noted Kelley.

He also feels that they have made a lot of headway into arresting and convicting those using and manufacturing narcotics. “There have been at least four or more meth labs busted. And our vice teams have cooperated so much with us here in Cedar Springs in helping us get if off the street.”

What does he think was his best accomplishment? “Somehow I’ve been able to get great deputies,” he remarked. “All who have worked here have wanted to work here. They need to be great deputies for it to work.”

The original Cedar Springs officers that trained to be Sheriff Deputies have moved on to other sectors in the county, according to Kelley, and it was their own choice. There have also been other deputies who have served here since the transition that had ties to Cedar Springs such as Deputies Jason VanDyke, Todd Frank, and Mike Tanis. Tanis is now a detective at the north substation.

Kelley said that of all the cases he’s been involved with here, one of the most memorable was the vandalism, theft, and recovery of the Timothy Brown monument. “It may not be the most significant, but it is probably the nearest and dearest to my heart because of the family and community emotions tied to it, and my ties to the veteran community,” he explained.

Kelley said one of the most important things he’s learned from his assignment here is how important it is to have buy in and cooperation from the community. “We can’t do our job without community involvement. We know that already, but when you are closer to the community, you realize that even more so.” He said the Timothy Brown monument case was a good example of that. “When we put the word out, and you publish things in the paper that we are looking for someone, people give us tips. We get that community involvement.” He added that once they give the tip, it’s also important that community members will feel safe and confident that the officers will do their job. “Citizens really play a key role in law enforcement,” he said. 

Kelley grew up in Benzie County and graduated from Benzie Central High School. After graduation he joined the Navy and served on active duty for six years, and earned his degree in Criminal Justice. After leaving the Navy, he attended the Police Academy in Traverse City, and then served with the Benzie County Sheriff Department for two years, from 200-2002. He was with Rogers City Police Department from 2002-2003, and was hired by the Kent County Sheriff Department in January of 2003.

While at the KCSD, he has worked road patrol out of the Central, North and South substations, had several assignments with the detective bureau including the burglary and theft unit, and served on the major case team. He was also a road patrol day shift supervisor, and road patrol night shift supervisor for the Central/North sector, before coming to Cedar Springs.

Kelley was named Deputy of the year for 2014 for his success with the Cedar Springs transition, among other things. “Due to his outstanding performance, enthusiasm and work ethic, Sgt. Kelley was selected to be the Cedar Springs Unit supervisor and was instrumental in making this ‘Change of Command’ transition a huge success,” wrote Sheriff Larry Stelma at the time. 

Kelley has made a lot of friends in the community and will be missed by many. He has some mixed emotions of his own. “I’m sad to leave this assignment but excited for my new role in the investigative division,” he remarked.

On behalf of the community of Cedar Springs, The Post wishes Sgt. Kelley well on his new assignment!

Next week, we will introduce you to the new supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit, Sgt. Todd Probst. 

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Man takes own life after setting fire to home


 

This pole barn was completely destroyed in a suspicious fire Friday morning, May 18, 2018. Post photo by J. Reed

by Judy Reed

When Paul Schrier visited Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral home last Friday morning, he walked by a man sitting in his vehicle with the window down and gave him a friendly hello. He doesn’t remember if the man responded.

“I may have been the last person to talk to him,” said Schrier.

When he finished his business at the funeral home, Schrier noticed the man was still there in the parking lot as he headed over to Elmwood Cemetery to dig more holes for the Avenue of Flags. About 10 minutes later, Schrier heard a gunshot. When he looked to see what was going on, he saw the flashing lights of police at the funeral home. And then he heard another shot. What Schrier didn’t know was that this was the tragic end of the search for Bruce Bott, the 71-year-old Algoma Township man who had set his house on fire and burned his property earlier that morning, before ending his life in the parking lot of the funeral home.

A fire was set by the homeowner in the basement of this home on Algoma Ave. Post photo by J. Reed.

It started early Friday morning, May 18. According to Algoma Township Fire Chief Troy Guerra, they were toned out at 6:48 a.m. to a structure fire at 12131 Algoma Ave, between 14 and 15 Mile Roads. When they arrived on scene, they found the basement of the home on fire, as well as the pole barn. He said they sent out a second alarm on the pole barn fire to call in more aid. 

Guerra said they didn’t find anyone inside the home.

The fire also spread to a small shed behind the home, which was extinguished. The pole barn was destroyed.

The fire was deemed suspicious, and while firefighters from multiple fire departments battled the blazes, and the Michigan State Police investigated the fire, the Kent County Sheriff Department followed up on information they were given about a contentious divorce, in case the fire was deemed arson. The divorce between Bott and his wife was finalized April 30. So police began to search for Bott.

This shed near the home was also burned in the fire May 18. Post photo by J. Reed.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. the Kent County Sheriff Office received a call from Bliss-Witters & Pike funeral home in the 13000 block of Northland Dr NE. The caller reported a suspicious person who had just arrived at their facility. Dispatchers learned that Bott was sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot after dropping off a last will and testament to the funeral home.

The man was still sitting in his vehicle when officers arrived, but as deputies approached, they saw him shoot himself with a handgun. No shots were fired by responding deputies.

Bott was safely transported to Spectrum Butterworth with life threatening injuries. Shortly after 1:00 p.m., he was pronounced dead by medical staff at Spectrum Butterworth.

There were no injuries to the man’s ex-wife, who was not living at the home at the time of the fire.

 

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Suspicious package at courthouse


The Kent County 63rd District Court was on lockdown for about three hours on Monday, May 14, after a suspicious package was found.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, they responded to the courthouse shortly after 9 a.m. Deputies were directed to an envelope that was received through the US Postal Service that contained an unknown powdery substance.

The FBI and the Grand Rapids Fire Department Hazmat Team also responded to the courthouse and assisted in assessing the extent of the threat, as well as containment of the unknown substance. As a precautionary measure, the courthouse was locked down for a period of approximately three hours until it was determined that the substance had been contained and was not a threat to anyone inside or outside of the building. There were no symptoms of exposure reported by anyone.

The investigation is ongoing, and additional testing will be conducted to determine exactly what the substance is. Anyone with information about this situation is encouraged to call the Kent County Sheriff’s Office or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345. 

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Beware of requests for wire transactions


 

A couple who were buying a home were victims in a wire fraud scam.

On April 5, the Kent County Sheriff Department took a report of a fraud involving a large dollar amount via wire transaction. Police said the victims were in the process of purchasing a new home and were scheduled to be closing on the home in the upcoming days. They received an email that appeared to be from their bank and one from their builder requesting their down payment be sent by wire rather than bringing a cashier’s check with them to closing. The email appeared to be legitimate and included information such as the address of the home they were purchasing, file number, and their builder’s information. The victims wired approximately $180,000 to what they believed was the title office.

The bank that received the wired funds felt the wire transfer was suspicious and contacted the victim to question it. After realizing the wire transfer destination was fraudulent, the victim contacted the Kent County Sheriff Department for assistance.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department is urging citizens to use caution and make multiple inquiries, either in person or by telephone, prior to making large value wire transactions. Make every effort to contact your builder, realtor, title company, and closing office prior to engaging in any transactions not made in person. The stress of purchasing new homes and wanting transactions to go smoothly can make people more susceptible to these scams.

If you feel you have become a victim, it is important to contact law enforcement as soon as possible because there are times the wire transfers can be stopped.

If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at 616-632-6100.

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Vandals smash toilets, burn flag in sink at Skinner Field


This smashed toilet is just one of the many things destroyed in a break-in at the Skinner Field locker room over the weekend. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

Vandals struck again at Skinner Field last week, and this time it was not about stealing candy bars.

According to Shawn Kiphart, President of the Friends of Skinner Field, the concession stand and locker room were both targets recently in two different incidents. First was the concession stand, early last week. Kiphart said they dumped chemicals (cleaning supplies) on the floor, then put paper on it and tried to burn it. Then this past Sunday, they discovered the locker room had been broken into. And it was far more destructive.

Vandals burned a flag in the sink in the locker room. Courtesy photo.

According to Kiphart, the locker room has large steel doors that you cannot get into, so the suspect(s) broke out a small daylight window that sits about seven feet off the ground. Nothing appeared to be stolen, but the vandals smashed and destroyed toilets, urinals, 11 new first aid kits, showerheads, football equipment and more. Two of the toilets were brand new. They also burned a flag in the sink. 

“In years past, it was very obvious that the break-ins were more about mischief and kids getting in there to get candy,” remarked Kiphart. “But this was far more vicious. They were in there to destroy it.” 

More damage at Skinner Field. Courtesy photo.

Kiphart estimates the damage was $2,000 to $3,000.

The Friends of Skinner field Board and Cedar Youth Football League have set up a gofundme account to raise money for the repairs and losses they suffered from these latest break-ins, as well as to upgrade security and maintain the complex. Please visit their page at: 

https://www.gofundme.com/skinner-field-fund

If anyone has any information about this case, please contact Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345, or download the Silent Observer app for your phone, and use it to contact them. They will then pass on your tip to the Kent County Sheriff Department.

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Man hit and killed while crossing road


Brian Terhorst

A Jenison man survived a rollover crash early Sunday morning, and then was hit and killed by a pickup truck as he walked across the road.

It happened on Sunday, March 11, at about 1:55 a.m., in Sparta Township. 

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the initial crash occurred in the 12200 block of Fruit Ridge Ave. Brian Terhorst, 40, of Jenison, was driving a 2007 GMC pickup northbound on Fruit Ridge Ave when it crossed the centerline and left the roadway. The pickup hit a driveway and flipped over. The truck then landed on the passenger side in the ditch, on the west side of the roadway. 

Terhorst and his passenger, Miranda Moyer, 32, of Sparta, climbed out of the vehicle and attempted contact at a nearby residence on the east side of the road. A southbound vehicle saw the crashed pickup in the ditch and stopped and called 911 to report what had occurred. During this time, the couple walked back to the roadway. Terhorst made contact with the person in the vehicle. The second crash occurred when Terhorst was conversing with the stopped vehicle and walked back across the road to the west and walked into the path of a passing northbound vehicle driven by Jacob West, 25, of Sparta. 

Terhorst died at the scene from his injuries.

Both crashes remain under investigation. 

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Tires stolen from car dealership


Tires were stolen from two trucks at Sparta Chevrolet earlier this week. Photos from Sparta Chevrolet Facebook page.

Photos from Sparta Chevrolet Facebook page.

Police are looking for the suspects that stole two sets of tires from trucks earlier this week at Sparta Chevrolet, 8955 Sparta Avenue, in Sparta.

The Kent County Sheriff Department confirmed that two sets of tires were discovered stolen on Tuesday morning, February 27. Upon arrival Tuesday morning, employees found two of their midnight edition 1500 Silverados sitting on blocks. 

Be on the lookout for two sets of 265 65 r18 Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires on GM black wheels bolt pattern 6×5.50. Police believe they may show up on ebay, Craigslist, or some other sale sight.

If you have any information, please call Silent Observer at 616-774-2345. 

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Post story leads to suspects in Boomer Park break-in


By Judy Reed

Thanks to our readers, two suspects have been identified in the Boomer Park break-in we wrote about last week. 

Our story last week asked if you recognized the people in the surveillance photos that were suspects in a break-in that occurred at Boomer Park in Nelson Township, about 11 p.m. Monday evening, January 29. The field is located at 13440 Ritchie Avenue, just south of Becker, and is home to AYSO Soccer Region 902. 

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, a tipster saw the information in our story, and called Silent Observer. The info was credible, and investigators located the two named individuals—two 16-year-olds, who have been referred to juvenile court.

It was a relief to those who head up the soccer organization. “AYSO Soccer Region 902 would like to graciously thank those who called in tips which led to those responsible,” said a spokesperson for the organization.

It was the fourth break-in in nine months, and this time there was also some vandalism. A spokesperson for AYSO had said they may now need to use the money they had put aside for scholarships to repair the vandalism. The scholarships are used to help players from lower income families with registration fees.

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Man charged in attempted robbery


Jerome David Richards

A Comstock Park man is in jail on a charge of unarmed robbery after he attempted to rob the Subway on West River Drive last week. 

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the man walked into the Subway at 4615 West River Drive on Thursday, February 1, at 2:39 p.m., and attempted to rob the store. He implied that he had a weapon, though none was seen. He then fled the scene on foot, without any money.

The Kent County Sheriff Department then posted surveillance photos on their Facebook page, asking for the public’s help to identify the man. (The Post also shared their post on our Facebook page.) Due to people sharing their post, the police received a credible tip and acted on it immediately. 

On February 5, they arrested Jerome David Richards, 37, of Comstock Park. He was arraigned on Tuesday, February 6, on one charge of unarmed robbery, and one charge of being a habitual offender, 3rd offense. Bond was set at $50,000.

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Contractor scam alert


The Kent County Sheriff Department recently alerted the public to a scam in West Michigan where the suspects are posing as contractors and then stealing money from elderly victims. They said that over the past month, there have been incidents reported in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing, but they have not yet taken any reports in our area.

Suspects are described as Hispanic males driving a silver/grey full size pickup truck, possibly a Chevy. They typically target the elderly by telling them something on the exterior of their home is in need of repair and they offer to show the homeowner what they are talking about. While one suspect distracts the homeowner, the second suspect enters the home and typically takes money from the victim.

Pass this information along to any homeowners you know, especially the elderly, and call the Kent County Sheriff Department at (616) 632-6100 to report any information related to this type of activity.

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