Lowell chief accused of using police database improperly

Lowell Police Chief Steve Bukala
Lowell Police Chief Steve Bukala. (2016 file)

LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — The Lowell police chief faces five misdemeanor charges for allegedly misusing the Law Enforcement Information Network.

The Barry County prosecutor issued the five counts of unauthorized use of LEIN against Chief Steven Bukala on Wednesday. The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by 93 days in jail and/or a fine of $500.

Bukala turned himself in to authorities on Wednesday. Arraignment has not yet been scheduled.

A release from the prosecutor did not provide details about the alleged improper use of LEIN, a database that lists people’s personal information and includes details about criminal backgrounds. It’s accessible only to law enforcement and is strictly regulated.

Bukala was placed on paid administrative leave on April 17 while Michigan State Police investigated allegations against him regarding possible misconduct regarding an internal personnel matter. Starting Wednesday when the charges were authorized, his suspension was switched to unpaid, City Manager Mike Burns told 24 Hour News 8.

Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt is handling the case after the Kent County prosecutor recused himself due to a conflict.

Bukala has been the police chief in Lowell since 2013. Sgt. Christopher Hurst has been serving as acting chief.