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Ousted police chief defends social media statements, but isn't asking for outrage against the city

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 17:36:40-04

LOWELL, Mich. — An ousted police chief spoke with FOX 17 after being forced to resign last week.

Former Lowell Chief Steve Bukala came under fire for posts on social media, from the police department’s Facebook page.

Steve Bukala was chief of police in Lowell for about 7 years. This fall would have marked 25 years with the department, but he says he had no other choice but to resign.

There’s nothing controversial about the constitution - that’s what former Lowell police chief Bukala says…

“We are sworn to up hold the constitution of the United States.” Bukala told FOX 17. “Politics aside, we support the entire constitution.”

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.

“Under the circumstances, we were 2 days removed from riots in Grand Rapids,” Said Bukala. “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. The post all together, deleted as well and replaced with a public apology from the city.

“It’s their First Amendment right, and I have broad shoulders for a reason,”

Bukala says there’s no opinion in that post. Saying, it’s a fact his duty as a law enforcement officer was to uphold the Constitution. His lawyer, echoing the same.

“It says what it says. Every single one of us, we all swore to uphold the US and Michigan Constitution. Period. No matter what all these other things are happening,”

But according to an internal report from the city manager, the decision was the result of more than just that one post. They note one post he made on his personal page calling the four men quote ‘fine young gentleman’ also saying he had been warned multiple times in recent weeks about his social media activity.

Regardless, Bukala says he’s done with law enforcement and doesn’t want his job back. But he doesn’t want what happened to him, to happen to anyone else.

“No. No. Because it was legally protected under the constitution.”

Bukala also mentioned because of previous disciplinary action and a misdemeanor charge in 2017, this incident resulted in his forced resignation. Without the prior issues it would have been a suspension. He also says he doesn’t want any hate sent towards the city manager and hopes the public can respect his rights as well.