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Tag Archive | "Lawrence Stelma"

Man dies in officer involved shooting


The Kent County Sheriff's mobile crime lab at the scene of the shooting in the 4000 block of Summit Ct. in Algoma Township. Post photo by J. Reed.

The Kent County Sheriff’s mobile crime lab at the scene of the shooting in the 4000 block of Summit Ct. in Algoma Township. Post photo by J. Reed.

UPDATED 1/29. Also see related story: Shooting victim suffered from mental disorder

By Judy Reed

A man died in Algoma Tuesday after he struggled with a police officer and was subsequently shot.

According to Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma, officers were called to a domestic dispute in the 4000 block of Summit Court, which is west off Summit near 14 Mile, about 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24. When deputies arrived, they learned that there had been an altercation between two brothers, who were now separated. One of them, who was suffering from a mental illness, got into an altercation with one of the deputies and injured him. Shots were then fired by a deputy, resulting in the death of the brother that was fighting the officer.

Sheriff Stelma said that the officer suffered minor injuries, including lacerations and bruises, but is fine.

Jonathan David Sper mugshot from Kent County Correctional Facility.

Jonathan David Sper mugshot from Kent County Correctional Facility.

The officer that fired the shot has not yet been identified.

The Wyoming Police Department is investigating the shooting, and identified the deceased brother as Jonathan David Sper, age 30. Sper had been released from jail just hours before the shooting. He had been arrested in Grand Rapids on January 18 for ordering food/beverage without paying, and for failing to identify himself to a police officer. 61st District Court records show he was uncooperative several times during his appearances before the judges, causing his hearings to be canceled, but he finally pled guilty on January 24, and was released, receiving credit for the six days served as his sentence.

Jonathan David Sper in happier times.

Jonathan David Sper in happier times.

Jonathan is the son of David and Mary Sper of Grand Rapids. The shooting happened at the home of his brother and sister-in-law, Jarred and Sara Sper.

According to his obituary, Jonathan graduated from Abilene Christian University in 2014. He was described as a dreamer, full of life, who loved people, and had an entrepreneurial spirit.

A memorial service will be held at Ada Bible Church on Knapp St., Saturday, January 28, at 11 a.m. Visitation will be at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, family asked that donations be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness at http://ifundraise.nami.org/campaign/sper.

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Promotions to Captain 


 

Capt. Dave Kok

Capt. Dave Kok

Capt. Bruce Ivie

Capt. Bruce Ivie

Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma announced that two officers have been promoted to Captain.

Dave Kok was promoted to Captain of the Road Patrol, and Bruce Ivie was promoted to Captain of the Detective Bureau, both effective Monday, June 22.

Capt. Kok was hired as a county patrol officer in December of 1996; promoted to Sergeant of Road Patrol, in November 2006; and promoted to Lieutenant in the Support Services Division in February 2013.

Capt. Ivie was hired as a Corrections Officer in June 1992; transferred to County Patrol Officer in January 1996; promoted to Sergeant-Road Patrol in March 2007; Promoted to Lieutenant-Support Services Unit in March 2011; and assigned as First Lieutenant-Road Patrol in June 2013.

Congratulations to both officers on their promotions to Captain!

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New 35,000 square foot arena a public/private effort


Property offers Olympic sized outdoor arena, indoor arena, trails

By Beth Altena

 

 Kent County Sheriff Deputy Celesta VanderVeen snuggles with horse Dewey during an event for the public to see the new arena. Children were given rides on the facility’s eight horses during the evening. Photo by B. Altena.

Kent County Sheriff Deputy Celesta VanderVeen snuggles with horse Dewey during an event for the public to see the new arena. Children were given rides on the facility’s eight horses during the evening. Photo by B. Altena.

“This is the result of public/private efforts,” said Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma during the grand opening of the Kent County Sheriff Department’s Mounted Division indoor arena last Wednesday, October 16. The event happened two years after Kent County donated 30 acres of land and a 100-year-old barn to the Sheriff Department to house the mounted division at 4687 Kroes in Rockford.

Stelma said the new facility could not have happened without countless volunteer hours and effort and offers a permanent home to the horses of the mounted division. In addition, there will be a wide variety of opportunities for the public to interact with officers and horses and use the facilities for any number of equestrian events and competitions. The 35,000-square-foot arena went up this summer and will offer indoor riding, space for ten horses, classrooms, offices and equipment storage.

The need for a mounted division became apparent after the 2000 opening of Millenium Park, which Stelma characterized as a “very large park.” As a search and rescue tool, the mounted division is priceless for covering terrain of all types. Officers on horses are also ideal for crowd control because of the height and visibility of the riders. Stelma said it is estimated that one mounted officer is as effective as ten officers on foot in crowds.

The mounted division is an extension of the Traffic Squad, which is Kent County’s oldest civilian law enforcement support organization—serving Kent County since 1917. Mounted officers serve in a volunteer capacity and are responsible for their own gear and equipment. Stelma said the division currently has eight horses, but there is a need for ten or twelve. He praised Kent County’s Director of Parks, Roger Sabine, for recommending this property. He praised Kent County for having the vision to see what a good fit the property would be for the use and offering it.

The first phase for the project took place in 2011 with a renovation of the barn and fencing an outdoor arena and pastures. Phase II was the stalls, facility and riding arena. Visitors were told there are outside trails prepared as well. Stelma also thanked key personnel on the project, Don DeGroot who spent so many hours cutting and nailing the boards of the facility and stalls that his fellow officers threatened to buy him a hammock so he could sleep over. His efforts go back to day one.

“I told him we wanted a mounted division and he asked what the budget was,” stated Stelma. “I told him there wasn’t one.”

DeGroot said the research into what a mounted division would look like goes back two years before the “real” work began. He said most are reservists who keep their animals themselves. “We decided that wasn’t the way we wanted to go,” DeGroot said. He said it is much more efficient, especially for search and rescue, for the horses to be at one location. He described that all officers and all horses are cross trained, so if one horse is under the weather, another will do just as well.

 Kids were all smiles while sheriff deputies help them ride around the new arena for the Kent County Sheriff’s Mounted Division during a grand opening last week. Photo by B. Altena.

Kids were all smiles while sheriff deputies help them ride around the new arena for the Kent County Sheriff’s Mounted Division during a grand opening last week. Photo by B. Altena.

The department was able to purchase their first horse in 2007 and build up a stable that was kept at the Kent County Honor Camp. In 2011, budget issues closed the camp and the horses were stabled individually as space was available. DeGroot said mounted search and rescue is so effective the organization receives many requests for help all across the state of Michigan.

He said since the beginning, the organization of the project, and the fundraising, became such a challenge the department assigned the duties to Chad Wieber, who donated his hours free of charge on top of his full-time job with the Sheriff Department. “Chad has done a wonderful job getting us to this point.”

Stelma spoke about the importance of generous donors to the project and introduced a family member of the late Peter Cook to speak. Donations toward the arena allowed it to be the Peter Cook Arena, and Ryan Cook said, “Our community works best when we work together. The traffic squad is a good example of that.” He said the work of the volunteers offered the best bang for the buck. “It’s hard to say no to that.” He said he knew the mounted division does unparalled work in search and rescue, as well as many other duties, such as presidential security.

Stelma introduced world-renowned philanthropist Peter Secchia, who was on hand for the event. Secchia talked of his determination to see the mounted division become a reality. He recalled friends the late Fred Meijer and Peter Cook, who also strongly believed in the idea. “They were two wonderful, wonderful people. This was something they wanted and I wanted. I am sure they are looking down on this now. They wanted it to happen.”

Kent County Administer Daryll Delabbio and Cook were both presented with Kent County Mounted Division gold shields, but were warned the position was honorary and had no law enforcement powers included.

The arena and grounds will be available for the public to use for horse-related events, from shows to 4-H events and for the Rockford Public School Equestrian Team. Dr. Shibler, Superintendent of RPS, said the team competes across the state. He called the whole complex “outstanding,” and said he was most impressed that it was accomplished without taxpayer money, but by fundraising, donations and volunteer work.

 

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