On Monday, November 9, an arrest warrant was issued for 40-year-old Jeffrey Shawn Hawkins, of Plainfield Township. Hawkins was arrested and lodged at the Kent County Correctional Facility. He was charged with two counts of Accosting Children for Immoral Purposes—each count is a four-year felony; two counts of Using Computers to Commit a Crime – each count is a seven-year felony. Hawkins was also charged as a Habitual Offender/Second Offense Notice. The Kent County Sheriff Department began investigating a complaint of Soliciting a Child for Immoral Purposes. The solicitation occurred online while the individuals conversed via Facebook. Investigators do not believe the suspect ever had any physical contact with these 15-year-old children. The suspect is a 40-year-old male that currently lives in Plainfield Township and he is required by law to register as a Sex Offender. He is a paid on-call firefighter for Plainfield Township as well as a Plainfield Township employee. He has been with the fire department since 1993. As part of his firefighter duties, he did attend the Fall Festival at the East Oakview Elementary School on October 23, 2009 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. with other Plainfield firefighters. School officials have been notified of the investigation. At this time he has been suspended from the fire department. The Sheriff Department had utilized a search warrant at the suspect’s residence to seize his computer. In addition, Plainfield Township and the Plainfield Township Fire Department have been cooperative with the investigation. They have turned over computers to the Sheriff Department to ensure no illegal activities occurred while using their property. Bob Homan, Plainfield Township Manager, said Hawkins has been suspended until further notice without pay. “At this time I believe it is best to let the legal process take place,” he commented Monday. He said Hawkins has been a paid-on-call firefighter for the township since 1993. He was appointed by then clerk Sue Morrow as Assistant Clerk in 2001. Hawkins was convicted of criminal sexual conduct fourth degree with a victim between the ages of 13 to 16 on June 3, 1997 in 17th Circuit Court. According to Homan, the township currently has no policy regarding individuals on the Sex Offender Registry in regards to employment with the township.
Just in time for the Take Back the Tap campaign promoting drinking the water from your faucet as healthy and more environmentally sound than bottled water, Plainfield Township has proof of their water quality. At a September Michigan American Water Works Association meeting, the township received three awards for the quality of their water department. The 2009 Exemplary Wellhead Protection Program Award and the 2009 Water Quality Report Award were both accepted by Water Treatment Plant Supervisor Don Petrovich at the September 21 township board meeting. The first award went to the township for their outstanding efforts in protecting the public water supply. The second was given to water suppliers who use their annual report to educate their citizens on the quality of the water supply. The township also earned the 2009 Edward Dunbar Rich Service Award. This was accepted by board member Charles Weldon for his son, Matt Weldon who is the township water department assistant supervisor of distribution. The award is given annually by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, In cooperation with the AWWA, to those who have 25 years of meritorious and faithful service in the waterworks industry. Petrovich gave credit to his staff for the first award, “The trick is to surround yourself with excellence,” he stated. The board and Tom Smith, a representative from AWWA thanked Petrovich, Weldon and the water department staff for their award-winning efforts.
Within the past three weeks, two different residents of Plainfield Township were contacted by individuals claiming to be working for the “Water Department.” In both instances the Kent County Sheriff’s Office believes they were attempting to impersonate a water department employee in an attempt to enter the residence with criminal intent. One resident was contacted by telephone and the suspect set up an appointment. He never showed. The other resident was contacted at her residence by an individual claiming her water meter on the outside of the house was not working properly. He said he needed to come inside for a more accurate reading. The home owner did not allow him to enter then contacted the Sheriff’s Office. Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office are looking into both situations. Plainfield Township officials advise residences to check their official website, plainfieldchartertwp.org, for current project information that may be taking place throughout the township. They also advise that all township employees drive clearly labeled vehicles, wear uniforms and carry township pictured ID. The Sheriff’s Office verified the township had no reported water problems nor did they have any workers in that area. Sheriff’s Deputies believe the suspect may be working with an accomplice and possibly stealing property from the victims when given the opportunity. The suspect is described as a white male, tall and thin. Their vehicle was described as a white or grey SUV, or possibly a white-colored pick up truck. Remember: Government workers should be in uniform and should always have proper/official identification before being allowed into your home. Use your phone directory and attempt to verify the information that the subject is giving you. If they are legitimate they will be patient, understanding, and accommodating while you verify their credentials. For more information contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Office (616) 632-6100 or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.