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Lowell police chief resigns

Posted at 1:34 PM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-05 18:55:10-04

LOWELL, Mich. — The chief of police in Lowell has resigned after 24 years of serving the city.

Steve Bukala resigned on Thursday, according to a statement today by City Manager Michael Burns.

Sgt. Chris Hurst will serve as interim chief while the city searches for a new chief.

"We wish him well in his next chapter and appreciate all he has done for Lowell," Burns said.

The statement on Bukala's resignation comes after the police department posted this message on its Facebook page yesterday.

In a Freedom of Information Act request, FOX 17 has obtained documentation further explaining former chief Bukala’s resignation.

The documents say that City Manager Michael Burns has warned Bukala multiple times in the previous three weeks regarding his behavior on both his personal Facebook page and his conduct utilizing the department Facebook page.

In the documents, Burns raises concerns to Bukala about a post made from the Lowell Police Department’s Facebook page regarding four individuals who called the department saying they would be open carrying guns down Main Street on June 2, 2020.

Burns asked Bukala to make the post to the Lowell PD Facebook to inform the public the department was aware of the individuals walking through downtown and that they were within their rights to do so.

Concern on the end of the city manager’s office stemmed from the last line of the post, which said, “We at the Lowell Police Department support the legally armed citizen and the second amendment.”

That sentence was later removed from the post per requests from Burns.

The FOIA also contains documents showing citizens’ messages to the city manager regarding posts to Bukala’s personal Facebook page. The message claims Bukala posted a photo of he and his wife shopping at a big-box store wearing a mask around his arm, as opposed to his covering his nose and mouth. The FOIA states that post was later removed.

Burns gave Bukala until 5 p.m. June 4 to submit his resignation to the Lowell Police Department, per the internal memo included in the FOIA. The letter goes on to say if Bukala did not resign by 5 p.m. on the June 4, he would be terminated by 5:01 p.m.

See the city's full 22-page response to FOX 17's FOIA request.