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Attorney for ousted police chief calls for city to issue statement of support, payment

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Posted at 10:13 AM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 10:13:53-04

LOWELL, Mich. — An attorney for Steve Bukala, the former Lowell police chief who was forced to resign for a social media post in June, sent a new letter in defense of Bukala on Tuesday.

Bukala was forced to resign regarding a post to the city’s police department page referencing four young men open carrying long guns on main street.

The letter says that defending the Constitution should not be considered a political debate or a matter of personal opinion, but actually a duty for a law enforcement official.

Katherine Henry, the attorney, says in her letter that the city’s decision to force Bukala to resign was unconstitutional.

“He should be made whole and the community needs to be reassured this unconstitutional behavior will never happen again in Lowell,” the letter says.

Henry is asking that the city agree to give the following:

  • To “buy the time” from MERS for Bukala to retire at age 55 with full retirement benefits as though he had stayed employed through November 2020
  • To issue an official public statement that the city stands with Bukala in his support for the U.S. and Michigan Constitutions, and that support for these Constitutions is not a personal feeling or up for political debate

The city has until the end of the July 20 City Council meeting to agree to these terms, according to the letter.
The post under question came amid nationwide tensions after police killed George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis.

“Under the circumstances, we were two days removed from riots in Grand Rapids,” Bukala previously told Fox 17. “I knew we’d be getting calls about this. So I called Kent County Dispatch and informed them we had open carry advocates walking main street with long guns.”

The post, according to the city manager, was to inform the public so no one would make emergency calls. Their problem was with the last line, where Bukala states they support the legally armed citizen and the second amendment. That line was later deleted.