Kent County Sheriff’s Department

Community celebration is free, fun, informative

August 2, 2012 // 0 Comments

National Night Out is next Tuesday, August 7 Join your local law enforcement, neighbors and more as the Rockford Police, Rockford Fire, Kent County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan State Police participate in National Night Out Tuesday, August 7 in downtown Rockford from 6 to 8 p.m. According to organizer Officer Aaron Sawyer, the event is not only a fun celebration, but also informative. “Lock your car doors, close your garage at night, leave outdoor lights on,” Sawyer said of simple practices that make a huge difference in preventing crime. Other crime prevention material and giveaways will be available during the two-hour event which is a nationwide initiative. Here, it is held at Maple and Main streets in the parking lot formerly occupied by Northland Pontiac (just west of the Rockford fire garage), downtown Rockford. Rockford’s National Night Out, in its eighth year, always draws crowds of hundreds who can walk from booth to booth under a big tent, visit with our local K-9 Michigan State Police trooper and his dog, throw a ball to try and dunk a Rockford police officer in the dunk tank, and enjoy a meal of hot dogs fired up by our Rockford firefighters (free or by donation with funds going to the Rockford Firefighter Association). If weather is hot as it has been recently, the fire department’s truck on site spraying water to walk or run through will be greatly appreciated. In addition to the Michigan State Police K-9, there will be at least one Michigan State Police motorcycle to admire, and the troopers who drive them can answer questions. Sawyer said events at National Night Out include bicycle helmet fitting, bike registration, face painting, games, a chance to see a Kent County Sheriff Marine Patrol boat and more, making the celebration interesting for all ages. Rockford police began organizing the local National Night Out event along with a host of other community policing programs, such as the Rockford Area Triathlon, Shop with a Cop and Youth Night, as ways to interact with the public in fun settings. The Rockford school district is also one of the last to continue to have a D.A.R.E. program, which here is also organized by a Rockford police officer. With music, plenty to […]

Clear calendar for community-wide celebration

July 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

Dunk an officer, play in fire hoses National Night out is one celebration you don’t want to miss, coming right up on Tuesday, August 7 around the country from 6 to 8 p.m. Locally, planning is nearly complete for this year’s event, which takes place on Maple and Main streets in the parking lot where Northland Pontiac once stood (west of the Rockford Fire Department garage). All local law enforcement, each of Rockford’s eight Neighborhood Watch organizations, Rockford Ambulance and the representatives from the Helen DeVos Safe Kids will all be present. Nationally the event was started to encourage neighbors turn on their outside lights and go out to celebrate crime prevention. In Rockford, National Night Out is one of a half dozen community policing programs and one of the most inclusive events in proactive crime prevention. Those who come downtown for activities will have the chance to talk with Rockford police officers, firefighters, Kent County sheriff’s deputies, and troopers from the Michigan State Police, including our own Rockford-based K-9 officer with his German shepherd. According to organizer Officer Aaron Sawyer, National Night Out (NNO) is one of a flurry of summer community events in which his department participates. NNO comes on the heels of the Rockford Area Triathlon and the D.A.R.E. golf outing. “It’s a lot of fun,” Sawyer said. Each of the Neighborhood Watch associations will have a table under the big tent and will have either giveaways, games or information about crime prevention. The Rockford Fire Department will have a fire truck on the site, spraying mist for kids—or adults—to run or walk through to cool down. Members of the Rockford Firefighters Association will be manning the grill and handing out hotdogs, pop and chips free of charge. Always a popular offering, the police dunk tank will be set up and children are invited to throw a softball and dunk a Rockford police officer. Hundreds of your neighbors and city officials will be at this celebration as communities across our nation celebrate crime prevention together. An added benefit is the chance to mingle with the men and women who work hard to keep you safe all year around. Sawyer said good relations with law enforcement is a key element in community safety […]

Citizens invited to attend Police Academy

July 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department will be hosting the Fall Citizens Police Academy on Thursday, Sept. 20. Attendees will meet every Thursday for 11 consecutive weeks. Class will run from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. This interactive academy will give the citizens of Kent County the opportunity to experience all aspects of their sheriff’s department. Participants will get to go on patrol with a police officer, take a correctional facility tour, and go through some of the same split-second decision-making training that is a requirement of police officers. Crime scene technicians, detectives, the tactical team and marine unit will also be a part of the learning experience. For more information or to sign up for this academy, please visit, click on Courts & Law Enforcement, and then click on Sheriff Department. For additional questions, please contact Sandi Jones at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office (616) 632-6221 or e-mail her at

Endowment gives nearly $58,000 in first responder grants

June 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

‘We said from the beginning it all goes back to rescue’ by BETH ALTENA  Fourteen fire or police departments have funding for life-saving equipment they needed thanks to the generosity of those who supported the West Michigan Healing Fields (WMHF) memorial to 9/1/1 held last September. The Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE) met last month to give away the money raised by the sponsorships of the 3,200 flags—each representing one of the people who died 10 years ago in terrorist attacks that changed the U.S. in one horrific day. According to Rockford City Manager Michael Young, the project was brought to RACE by Susan Bodenner, who heard about the program. It allows communities to honor those lost while raising funds for grants to first responders, many of whom were among those killed. She brought the idea to the RACE board, where it was enthusiastically embraced. “We said from the beginning it all goes back to rescue,” said Young. “The franchise was $50,000, so RACE could either lose $50,000, break even or make money.” In addition to covering the initial franchise fee for the WMHF, the project raised nearly $60,000 more given away at the RACE annual meeting held at Rockford City Hall on Tuesday, May 18. Not all of the 20 grant applications or all of the grant request amounts were approved, but an amazing $57,840 in grants were given for worthy needs of local rescue. The grants included $5,000 each to Cannon and Courtland township fire departments, the City of Rockford Police and Fire, and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Division, which is located in Rockford in Plainfield Townshhip. Plainfield Fire Department received $4,900 to purchase thermal imaging unit equipment; Algoma Fire Department received $4,882 for needed equipment; Sparta Fire Department received $4,785; Grand Rapids Police Department received their entire grant request of $4,473; Wyoming Police and Grandville Police departments were given $3,500 of their grant request; Grattan Fire Department received $2,400 of their requested grant; and Grandville Fire Department received a check for $2,200 of their requested grant. Polly VonEschen, who is an at-large member of the RACE board, said the grants represented the most the board has given since her tenure on the board. The endowment was formed in the early […]

Law enforcement officers invite kids to have fun, compete

June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

The eighth annual Rockford Kids Triathlon featuring officers from local law enforcement, swimming, running, biking and food will take place Saturday, July 14 starting at Rockford High School. According to organizer Lt. Kevin Sweeney of the Michigan State Police, the event is geared for youngsters up to age 17 with varying lengths of race in which to compete. The cost is $20 to participate and checks should be made out to Rockford Area Kids Triathlon and mailed to or dropped off at 345 Northland Drive, Rockford MI 49341. The idea behind the Triathlon is to both promote health and give officers and children a positive, fun-filled opportunity to interact. The event has been held in Rockford for the last seven years and is always a popular summer event. Officers from the Michigan State Police, Rockford Public Safety Department and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department participate in the running, swimming and biking and hang out with kids during the day-long event. The Corner Bar is donating hot dogs and there will be other refreshments available. Race A is for ages 16-17 and 14-15 and starts with a 9 a.m. swim of 200 yards in the school pool, a six-mile bike ride and a three-mile run. Race B for kids 12-13 begins at 10 a.m. with a 100-yard swim, four-mile bike ride and two-mile run. Race C is for kids 10-11 and begins at 10:30 a.m. with a 100-yard swim, four-mile bike race and two-mile run. At 11 a.m., kids ages 8-9 swim 50 yards, bike two miles and run one mile. At 11:30, kids ages 6-7 swim 50 yards, bike two miles and run one mile. Kids up to age 5 begin at noon with a pool-length swim, a 100-yard bike ride and 100-yard run. The top three finishers in each age group receive awards. Organizers remind participants to check to be sure bikes are in good working order and do require helmets to be worn during the biking portion of the event. “This event is for all children,” said Sweeney. “With good sportsmanship, everyone wins.” Proceeds benefit D.A.R.E. and the Michigan State Police Explorers program. Parents and guardians are invited to view the swim event or greet the child after and orient them to the […]

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