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Police Chief talks about robberies

By Judy Reed


Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent spoke to the Cedar Springs Area Chamber Commerce Monday evening about the robberies that took place last month and ways and things business owners should do if one occurs.

“These will not be quickly solved,” he said

N-Admiral-surveilanceThe first robbery occurred on October at the Admiral gas station, on October 9, at about 9:20 p.m. It was robbed again on December 22, about 9:02 p.m. Then, on December 29, the Kent Theatre was robbed at about 10 p.m. In each case, a man with a mask pulled over his face implied he had a weapon and demanded money, and then fled on foot to the east side of town.

Two days later, on December 31, New Year’s Eve, Family Video was robbed at about 9:50 p.m. A man in dark hair and dark clothing walked around the store for about 20 minutes without a mask waiting for others to leave, then pulled a stocking cap down over his face with eye holes cut out and approached the counter. He showed the clerks a 5 or 6 inch hunting knife and demanded money.  He then walked away to the west, towards Second St. He was tracked to Beech and Second Street, where the scent disappeared.

Each time the clothing has been different, but he has been described as about 5 foot 8 inches, and somewhere between 165 to 200 pounds.

Chief Parent urged residents to report any suspicious activity, such as a car parked and idling in a spot where it normally wouldn’t be, and if they see a crime, to be a good witness. “Look for scars, tattoos, the type of clothing they wear,” he said.

Anyone with information should please call the Cedar Springs Police a 616-696-1311, or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.

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Deer accidents in city

Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent recently shared some car crash statistics for the year with the Cedar Springs City Council, and noted two accidents in the last month involving deer.
“Like all areas of Kent County, we are not immune from car/deer crashes,” he wrote.
Officer Chad Tucker responded to a crash with injuries involving a deer on November 13at 6 p.m. on W. Muskegon at 7th Street, and another car/deer crash on November 15 at 6:44 p.m. on E. Muskegon just east of Marie Street.
The Cedar Springs Police had responded to a total of 81 vehicle accidents as of early December, with 22 of them occurring in the 425 area with Solon Township.

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City police chief named interim fire chief

By Judy Reed

Police Chief Roger Parent will fill the job of interim chief while the city searches for a new one.

The Cedar Springs Fire Department now has a new chief to oversee operations, at least temporarily.
City Manager Christine Burns announced Thursday evening, June 9, that Police Chief Roger Parent would fill the job of interim chief while the city searches for a new one to replace Jerry Gross Sr. “We hope to have someone by the end of the year,” she said.
A committee made up of Burns, Chief Parent, finance and personnel director Linda Lehman, and a member of the fire department will interview candidates. “We’ll open it up to both internal and external applications,” said Burns.
Parent said he plans to be involved and not just a figurehead. “I’ve been given some instructions by the city manager, and I plan to be active in the fire department, not just hold it down (the position) for six months,” he explained.
Parent comes equipped to do the job. Prior to becoming police chief three years ago, he served 33 years with the Kent County Sheriff Department in various leadership roles, and 14 years with Alpine Township Fire Department as a firefighter, EMT and rescue captain.
Marty Frasier will still serve as Deputy Fire Chief, and Parent said he’s glad to have him in that position.
Parent said that some of what he’ll initially bring to the table would be written policies. Coming from the Sheriff Department, he learned that everything should be in writing so that everyone is on the same page. And he will start with the command staff. “In 2011 you have to cross all your t’s and dot your i’s,” he explained. “The firefighters don’t need to fear that.”
He said he would also begin looking at the consultant’s report for the fire department audit that was done a couple of years ago to see if there’s anything they can begin to implement. He said he also does plan to go on some calls.
Councilor Pamela Conley asked if the council had any interest in having one person (like Parent) over both the police and fire departments, as some communities have done. Parent told the Post he is not looking for another job. “I already stay busy,” he said.
Fire Chief Jerry Gross stepped down at the end of May, but will remain on the fire department as a firefighter. A reception was held in his honor just prior to Thursday night’s meeting. Several council members expressed their appreciation during council comments for Gross’s years of service as chief.
“I have a lot of respect for our outgoing chief and I wish him well,” said Conley.

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Sexting: Pornography or high tech flirting?

By Judy Reed

It’s something no parent wants to hear—that their child is texting nude or semi-nude photos of themselves to others, or that their child is receiving them. But it is happening on a larger scale than parents might think, and it is not just high school age kids involved.

According to Sherie Kopenski, security at Cedar Springs Middle School, they have tackled three cases this year. “That doesn’t sound like a lot, but one is too many,” she said.

The Cedar Springs Police Department has also been involved in the cases. “If your teen has access to a cell phone, there’s a chance that they have received or sent naked photos,” said Police Chief Roger Parent.  “Sexting used to be between a young couple, boyfriend-girlfriend, but it has recently become an accepted practice for young teenagers who are not in a relationship.  A recent comment during an investigation that ‘Everyone’s doing it’ was alarming.”

The latest case was a 14 year-old female sending nude photos to a male friend of similar age, who was not her boyfriend. He showed the photos to others, and according to Parent, it spread so much in school that it became a school issue, and the police also got involved.  The case is being forwarded on to the prosecutor’s office.

“Given that these images are often minors, officials are taking a hard line approach and may charge the parties involved in an effort to discourage the practice,“ explained Parent.

He said that what parents need to talk to their teenage children about is that the person sending a nude or partially nude photo, even if of themselves, is in violation of existing laws.  The person who receives the photo is in violation by possessing it and other laws address distribution of the photos to others.

He said the prosecutor is looking at it on a case-by-case basis. “It falls under underage porn. She created it and disseminated it. The boy is in possession of it. If he sends it on without permission, that also falls under bullying,” said Parent. And parents need to know that if one of the teens involved is 17 or older, they will face an adult judge.

Kopenski noted that it could have serious side effects. “It’s a lot bigger than we realize. It’s criminal, but there’s the emotional aspect, too. The female sends it to her boyfriend, and then it gets disseminated. She then becomes traumatized.”

Asst. high school principal April Stevens said they haven’t run into cases of sexting affecting classes. “I’m not naïve enough to think it’s not going on, but we haven’t experienced that,” she said.

Several high school students have confirmed that it does go on at the high school level.  “It’s mostly girls sending photos of themselves to boys they want to date or sleep with. The boys then show them around or forward them,” they said. They added that they don’t think the kids look at it as being criminal.

The teens said that many kids also engage in sexually suggestive talk without photos—usually with a member of the opposite sex. “Like if you called a 900 number,” they explained.

A recent study by the National Campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy showed that one in five teen girls have texted or posted nude or semi-nude images of themselves, and that 39 percent of teens have sent sexually suggestive text messages or emails to other teens.

“Teens are vulnerable and can be very naïve,” said Parent. “Often they do not see all of the ramifications to this problem once involved. Sending a nude photo to a close friend can become a photo for all to see on Facebook or the Internet.  Photos are quickly shared with others and there is no easy way to delete or retract them.”

“It’s disturbing. It’s out there and moving on,” said Parent.

So what is a parent to do?
1.    Talk to your kids about what they are doing in cyberspace.
2.    Know whom your kids are communicating with.
3.    Consider limitations on electronic communication.
4.    Be aware of what your teens are posting publicly.
5.    Set expectations.
Download a complete copy of “5 Tips to help parents talk to their kids about sex and technology” below.

Sexting Parent Tips

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