by BETH ALTENA On a beautiful day in June, a Rockford family’s worst nightmare struck. Twenty-three-year-old Erica Morris went outside to find her 13-month-old sister, Kainani, at the bottom of the family swimming pool. She wasn’t moving, and when pulled from the water, she remained unresponsive. Rockford Police Chief Dave Jones told the story before a packed audience at Rockford City Hall on Monday, Dec. 12. He described the harrowing scene, as Erica quickly pulled her little sister’s lifeless body from the water. Erica’s screams awoke her father, who found her performing CPR on the baby. Rockford Police Officer Derek Haan was the first rescue personnel on the scene. He took over efforts to try to save Kainani. Haan was followed by Rockford firefighters and Rockford Ambulance paramedics, who continued lifesaving procedure as they began the trip to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. As they worked to restore her heart and breathing, they saw the little body respond, drawing breath prior to arrival at the hospital. Six months later, the smiling, energetic child was the guest of honor at the evening meeting, pushed in her stroller past the dozen or so individuals who are responsible for her life. “We didn’t expect a good outcome on this call,” Jones said of the near-tragedy. Jones spoke before the group of rescue workers who participated, who stood at the front of the packed room. “Today we have as a guest someone who I think you will be very happy to see.” Tom Morris pushed the happy Kainani from rescue worker to rescue worker, who each leaned down to admire the friendly child. Recognized at the meeting were Officer Derek Haan, firefighters Dan Vincent, Casey Bennett, Mike Bouwkamp, Benjamin Holbert, Ken Phillips, Jason Vanhorn and Kyle Wendling, and paramedics John Peot and Andrew Good, as well as Tom and Erica Morris. As the final honor of the evening, Jones had officer Haan step forward to accept a Lifesaving pin in recognition of his part in bringing Kainani back from death only after a mere one year of life. “As Rockford’s police chief, this is the first Lifesaving Pin that I have awarded. It is also the last Lifesaving Pin I will award, as the police and fire departments will soon […]
Rockford Police Chief Dave Jones
Program the last in Kent County by BETH ALTENA Rockford Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Shibler and Rockford Police Chief Dave Jones can’t understand the reasoning for Algoma Township’s decision to discontinue their $5,000-a-year funding of the D.A.R.E. program, and they aren’t taking it quietly. Plainfield Township is also taking a hard look at their budget and had a discussion on whether to continue to fund the D.A.R.E. program. With revenue down across the board in municipalities in Michigan, including the City of Rockford, many government organizations are looking longer and harder at every service they offer, but Jones and Shibler don’t believe D.A.R.E. should fall to the wayside. On Monday, Nov. 29, Jones, Shibler and representatives from the Parent Teacher Organizations of each Rockford school attended a wake-up call meeting at Rockford City Hall to discuss the funding and future of D.A.R.E. “If Algoma doesn’t come around, if we lose Plainfield, we’re done,” Jones said. The D.A.R.E. program is much more than an anti-drug lesson, described Rockford’s D.A.R.E. officer Dave Jehnzen. It is a program that encourages good decision-making with lessons that ideally last a lifetime. Every student in the district takes part in D.A.R.E. in the fifth- and sixth-grade levels, and Jehnzen said that if it helps even a few kids avoid behaviors that lead to criminal activity or drug use, it is a no-brainer with the annual cost of $67,000 split between the City of Rockford and the townships who have students in the district. Jones said the program was originally offered by the Michigan State Police, which cancelled it due to budget cuts 10 years ago. Determined to continue D.A.R.E., the Rockford Police Department took on the program for Rockford Public Schools, and established funding by splitting the costs with Plainfield and Cannon townships each at $10,000 a year, Algoma and Courtland townships—with only part of their students in the Rockford district—at $5,000 a year each, the City of Rockford at $10,000, Rockford Public Schools at $12,500, and Our Lady of Consolation Church contributing $2,500. That total of $55,000 is still short of the entire funding by $12,000, which is currently made up with contributions from groups and an annual D.A.R.E. golf outing held by the Rockford Police Department on volunteer […]
Habitual offender faces 10 years Rockford Police Chief Dave Jones is happy with his officers’ efforts to use all technology available to them in catching alleged perpetrators of crime. Eighteen-year-old Nicholas Alexander French is probably not. Jones said the theft of a $1,400 bike occurred in the early hours of October 7. A resident reported the disappearance of the bike from the garage of her home on Gibraltar Street, Rockford. “The next day it showed up on CraigsList,” Jones reported. A co-worker of the person with the stolen bike found it and let the police know it was there. Jones said his officers, using tech-savvy techniques, were able to trace the e-mail address from the online ad and use social media sites to identify the person who placed the ad. By the following day, the bike had already been sold to an individual in Okemos. “It was a guy who had purchased the bike for his daughter, who was going off to college,” Jones said. “Reluctantly, but voluntarily, he returned the bicycle.” The money paid has not yet been recovered, Jones said, making the buyer a second victim in the crime. Jones said officers went to the home of French, who confessed to the stealing the bicycle. French, who has since been arrested and arraigned, faces five years on a felony home invasion III count. He also is charged as a habitual offender, which doubles the potential sentence to 10 years. French had previously been charged with larceny in a building and attempted malicious destruction of property over $1,000. These counts are all since he turned 17 and could be charged as an adult. “This goes to the credit of the Rockford Police. If the officers hadn’t acted on this as quickly as they did, the bike would have been long gone,” Jones stated. Online sites, such as CraigsList, are being carefully watched by police, including the Rockford department. “People consider them a more anonymous way of disposing of stolen property than pawn shops.” Jones said this is the third case this year where they have caught someone selling stolen property via an online venue. Jones noted that the resident whose bike was stolen had not taken advantage of a free bike registry program that is offered […]
Rockford Police Chief Dave Jones considers the efforts of his Volunteer Police Services Unit a big part of the success of policing in Rockford. Without pay, the force mans the Welcome Center in Squires Street Square, assists in patrolling Rockford parks and the White Pine Trail, and performs various other duties. “There is no funding for this,” said Sam Russell, who has implemented and organized the volunteered units. Since the volunteers know Rockford well and work in all seasons, they have seen many views of Rockford that shoppers and residents may not have had the chance to see. Now they can. Jim Herdegen, rarely without his camera and a self-described photo buff, has chosen a selection of his photos, which have been made into a calendar and offered for sale for just $10. Herdegen’s favorite, a view of the Welcome Center, since volunteers spend many hours there, is joined by classic shots of Rockford, including a fall color shot of the Rogue River, a summer view of the Rockford Dam, and a beautiful photo of the Little Red School House. The calendars are available at the Rockford Police Department, the Welcome Center during business hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and at City Hall on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Officer tricks suspects with cell phone Rockford Police Chief Dave Jones reports that officers from the department arrested six youths ranging in ages from 15 to 18 years old for their part in twenty thefts from parked vehicles in the Rockford Highlands subdivision early Thursday morning, August 6, 2009. Knowing that the City and surrounding townships had experienced car larcenies over the past several days, Officer Graham alertly observed and approached a young man sitting alone in a car parked on Gibraltar Street at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday. Officer Graham questioned the youth as to why he was out so late and the youth told Officer Graham that he was waiting for friends that were out walking. Suspicious that the other youths were breaking into cars, Officer Graham took a creative approach to the investigation and used the young man’s cell phone to call the friends and set up a meeting place. When five other youths arrived at the meeting place, Officer Graham was there to apprehend them.