DeYoung out as police chief

Roger DeYoung resigned Monday after 10 years as chief of the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department.
Becky Vargo
Feb 20, 2014

The department's Sgt. Joe Steinhauer has been named acting police chief.

Spring Lake Village Manager Chris Burns said she was notified of the resignation on Monday through the village attorney.

DeYoung, 47, was last on the job Feb. 14, she said.

Burns said there is no specific incident that sparked the resignation and that she is not aware of any wrongdoing.

“He’s a good guy,” she said.

When asked why DeYoung was leaving, Burns said, “It’s a resignation. I can’t elaborate.” She also declined to comment on the short notice.

Read the village press release on DeYoung's resignation (download the PDF at the bottom of this story).

As of press time, DeYoung did not return messages from the Tribune requesting a statement from him.

The Tribune has asked the village for DeYoung's personnel records through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Burns said once DeYoung’s resignation was received, a separation agreement was negotiated. That agreement was signed late Wednesday afternoon.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed because both sides signed a confidentiality pact, which was negotiated as part of the settlement agreement, Burns said.

“There’s ramifications if either one of us violate the confidentiality agreement,” she said.

DeYoung signed a Last Chance Agreement in January 2009, following a month-long suspension for an alcohol-related incident with his work vehicle.

When asked Wednesday if he had violated that agreement, Burns replied, “I am not at liberty to say.”

DeYoung had pulled his vehicle over on Leonard Road in Spring Lake Township at 12:30 a.m. Dec. 13, 2008, because his wife had become ill, the now-former police chief said at the time. His car got stuck in the slush.

DeYoung said an acquaintance stopped to give assistance. But when he went to pull the village vehicle out of the slush, the car lurched forward and struck the tow vehicle. The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department responded when the acquaintance’s insurer told him to contact police.

DeYoung was put on a mandatory unpaid suspension during an investigation into the incident. Then-Village Manager Ryan Cotton said DeYoung received time off work to begin the process of seeking treatment. DeYoung told the Tribune at the time that he was attending counseling for alcohol abuse and was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

The Last Chance Agreement allowed DeYoung to remain on the job as long as he submitted to possibly weekly alcohol and drug testing. He was also required to submit periodic reports on his treatment.

The incident was turned over to the State Attorney General’s Office for consideration of possible charges. The attorney general’s office assigned it to Allegan County Prosecuting Attorney Fred Anderson, who declined to authorize any charges.

DeYoung, who joined the department in 1988, had been chief for five years at the time of the incident.

DeYoung took on a term as interim village manager from when Cotton left to become Holland's city manager in March 2012 until Burns took over in July 2012.

Shortly after she arrived, the village conducted a survey and the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department received high marks, Burns said.

“Everybody was pleased with police service, and that was under his (DeYoung’s) leadership," she said. “... He did a lot of really good things in this department. He’s a sharp 'numbers guy' with the budget. He did a good job.”

Different direction

Burns said the village will not be looking to hire a permanent police chief, as there are potential plans to contract services from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety or the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

“We’re starting really serious conversations,” she said Wednesday. “(Grand Haven Public Safety Director) Jeff Hawke was here today. We’ve had conversations with the (county) sheriff and undersheriff. ... We’re going to take a look at restructuring, reorganizing and what is the future of the department. We expect that to be done by June 30.

June 30 is the date an intergovernmental agreement between Spring Lake and Ferrysburg expires. The two communities share the costs of running the police department.

Burns said this does not mean there will be a change in the level of police service that the two communities receive.

“We have a strong level of service and that level is going to continue,” she said.

Steinhauer has been working for the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department since November 1995. He was also the acting chief during DeYoung’s 2008-09 suspension.

The department has nine full-time and five part-time officers, as reported in its 2012 annual report, and a full-time administrative assistant.


Say no to new taxes

Consolidation of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg into one city makes a lot of sense, the savings could be substantial.


I agree. As much as I love being an "independent" village, it is a bit of overkill to have a separate please department for such a small community.




His Uniform is sloppy too...after two rounds of boot camp you get that kind of thing hammered into you pretty deep, gig line, cover alignment and whether or not unit patches line up with the creases etc...I have way too much old crap in my attic


I think he looks handsome.

Tri-cities realist

So says his wife? Or mother?


Close. His girlfriend's name is Jenn.


Don’t misinterpret my comment; he's not ugly but his uniform is sloppy especially if this is the official photo of the chief of police. The cover is not aligned, the patches are not aligned, and his blouse is not crisp and creased. Sure in everyday law enforcement this is not practical but as I said, for an official photo this uniform is sloppy.
We lived and died by AF35-10 which makes you notice things like this, he may have been a great chief and a genuinely great guy, and I wish good fortune in his future endeavours however I can spot the lack of spit and polish for an executive officer (like the chief) a mile away.


WOW... We know it's old... but when the Chief of Police is at the same party as the Village Manager what is one to do except to cover your tracks. That's the only reason he was not fired then.

Why would anyone want to contract with the City of Grand Haven they can't handle what they have now. Does the village even own any fire equipment??? to combine public safety departments.


Believe it or not, the Village does, the Township Fire Department once belonged to the Village of Spring Lake. Local history is important and the public service that the Police Department brought to the Village was above average. It is a shame that it has now come to this. So unless you know the truth, live in the Village, and pay taxes, enough is said...thank you.


well I do I all accords... Maybe you can explain why the Village pays the Twp for service then yearly.


Write positives about a good man instead of going down the gutter for sensational news.
Write good things about a man who has had positive effects on a police dept.


I hope that the residence of the Village of Spring Lake will listen and look into what is going on in the Village. Does it not concern, or make anyone wonder, just why all of the professional staff is now being let go. Is it truly in the name of legacy cost, could not something else be done. If it is this bad, why not just dissolve the Village, I think we are much better then this, and what ever happened to the Village Way?




Agreed roger39.


Does the Tribune know something not in the article? This whole article is presented as though he was forced to resign. He had 25 years with the department, maybe he just retired. Either way, this was a crappy retirement present from the Trib. If you can't print your suspicions, then wait to lay the groundwork for the scandel in print because if there isn't one you certainly put the idea there is more to the story in your presentation of the facts.


I actually like Roger . . . all of my dealings with him were professional and courteous. With that said, there has to be something going on here. Negotiated separations with non-disclosure agreements do not happen with simple retirements. Think about it ... when people leave public service jobs (for instance the former village manager as well as both the former SL/Ferrysburg Police Department chiefs) there is a public parting statement made by the officials.

I wish Roger the best, but don't add to the silliness with your "there is nothing to see here attitude." It would be better to simply wish him well and focus on the good things he has done (and there are plenty of positive things).


I meant only to point out one of my pet peaves with some of the reporting at the GHT. They are very quick to jump on any possible misdoings of local government employees and law enforcement in particular without anything of substance to base it on. From what I read in the article the Chief resigned period. There is nothing else to report except inferences about the possibility an incident from 5 years ago has something to do with his current status? How about a headline like "DeYoung leaving after 25 years of service.", and point out some highlights of his career. Or is the reality of the situation too dull for a news story.

Good luck Chief DeYoung. I've never met you, but thank you for your service to our community. If this is the worst they can say about you after 25 years in your line of work I'd say well done sir.

River Man

I agree with Christopher.

If you ever meet him or work with him you understand that he is exactly what you would want in a village chief.

I am sad to see him go.

In contrast it is interesting how strongly people feel about Burns...


Duh you just said it he resigned that isnt retiring. Roger Deyoung should have been fired after he left the scene of an accident.




Why was he not arrested? He gets to keep his job as a Peace Officer, who is supposed to protect us from guys like him. Everyone else spends a night in jail and $10,000 in fines.

Barry Soetoro

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks.


You know what assuming makes you, right? Glad you were so compelled you had to log on. NOT. In this country you aren't arrested if you didn't do anything wrong. Not then not now. Pretty simple.


Read the original articles from 2008. If he was you or I he not only wouldn't have been arrested, but his employer wouldn't have been notified. It wouldn't have been in the paper, and his reputation wouldn't have gone through the ringer. This was a case of him being held to a higher standard BECAUSE he was a peace officer, not in spite of it.


I dont know about you but if it was me I wouldnt have left the scene of an accident. .......


You don't seem to have read anything about the incident except the blurb in this article and you didn't read that very well. Go back and read it again.

You tell me how he didnt leave the scene of an accident? He also admitted drinking before using a vehicle paid for by taxpayers. How convenient that was able to use the excuse that the alcohol test was incoclusive because he kept drinking. As a cop he kmew he should have stayed at the scene of the accident til authorities arrived. He knew what he was doing avoiding a DUI.


Thank you GHJames, at least I know some people do understand and are educated. Oh wait, if it was in the paper it must be the whole truth, just like being on the television, because they just can't be wrong?


Roger DeYoung is one of the good guys!!! If you ever talked to him, on the job or off, you would know this!


Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on Create a new account today to get started.