Detective named county's Officer of the Year

Becky Vargo • May 18, 2019 at 4:00 PM

Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of stories written in conjunction with National Police Week, May 12-18.

Combatting child sexual abuse is “near and dear” to the heart of Detective Dave Bytwerk, who spends a large portion of his time wrapped up in cases with the Children’s Advocacy Center.

Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Kempker recently named Bytwerk, an 18-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, as Officer of the Year.

“Detective Bytwerk continually exhibits a good attitude and very strong work ethic,” Kempker said. “(He) gives his best effort for the agency, victims of crime and the citizens of Ottawa County.”

A native of Rockford, Bytwerk now lives in Spring Lake, where his father, Doug Bytwerk, now retired, was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Spring Lake. 

A graduate of Grand Valley State University and the police academy at GVSU, Dave Bytwerk joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2000, a week after graduation. His roles in the department have included road patrol, community policing, serving on the West Michigan Enforcement Team and now the detective unit.

“I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every role I’ve been placed in at the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “I loved community policing. I loved road patrol. It was all at night and I got to meet a whole different group of people.”

He’s also a member of the department’s critical response team, S.W.A.T.

Although he says he’s always loved being involved in his community — he’s been a paid on-call firefighter with Spring Lake Township Fire Rescue for 20 years — Bytwerk said he has a passion for volunteering with the Children’s Advocacy Center.

“I was working investigations there for two years,” he said.

Now Bytwerk volunteers for the center in any way he can, and his wife and children will often volunteer with him.

“It’s such a worthy endeavor,” he said. “What they do and the service they provide to children in cases we work on with them are priceless.”

Bytwerk is one of 14 detectives in the Sheriff’s Office. He currently does the majority of his work in the Holland area.

Kempker said another reason Bytwerk was honored was for his contribution in solving some potentially dead-end cases. 

Last year, Bytwerk investigated incidents of lewd acts committed against a female, Kempker said.

“This was a tough case, and at first it looked as though the case would be unable prove,” the sheriff said. “Due to Detective Bytwerk’s tenacity, he took the case and worked with what he had. Detective Bytwerk was able to gather facts and evidence, and obtained criminal charges against the suspect. As it turns out, the suspect in this case had committed other similar acts in Michigan for a number of years, all while evading authorities and arrest.”

Bytwerk said he has a strong drive to get things right and help put away the people who do wrong. But, in the end, he just loves working with people.

“I have so many great experiences,” he said.

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