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Barry County honors Nashville police chief who died Sept. 26


At their meeting Tuesday morning, Barry County Commissioners honored Nashville Police Chief Chris Koster, who died Sept. 26. From left: Commissioner Ben Geiger of Woodland and Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt with Koster's oldest son, Kyle, during the tribute.


Rebecca Pierce



Barry County commissioners paid tribute Tuesday to Nashville Police Chief Chris Koster, who died Sept. 26 in a one-car crash on North 32nd Street in Kalamazoo County’s Richland Township.

The father and son of police officers, Koster spent 27 years in law enforcement in Allegan County before the village of Nashville picked him to be its police chief in April 2015.

“He was my friend and he will be missed,” said Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt, who had known Koster since about 1993 when she was a prosecutor in Allegan County.

Koster was working as a detective for the Allegan County sheriff’s department at that time, she said.

“I cannot describe the tremendous loss,” Nakfoor Pratt said “… For anybody that knew Chief Koster, he was a spark…

“He described himself as a bull in a china shop, but a more fierce advocate for the elderly, vulnerable and children you have never met.”

Nakfoor Pratt said Koster was articulate and had a keen sense of evidence. “He was very, very hardworking. …Chris and I worked well together.”

The prosecutor said her proudest moment of Koster was when he doggedly pursued evidence in a cold case in which a girl with Down syndrome was the victim of sexual abuse. She was nonverbal, so she wasn’t able to testify or provide evidence in the case.

“Then, when the guy confessed, we still needed evidence. Chris wouldn’t give up.”

Eventually, he found some old photos that provided the proof they needed and a conviction followed. The offender is in prison now, she said.

Koster always spoke highly of his family, the prosecutor said. He was proud of his wife, Michelle, and sons, Kyle, who works as a probation officer in Barry County, and Hunter, who is a sheriff's deputy in Allegan County, she noted.

County commissioner Ben Geiger said he had spent some time with Koster at the Nashville Sesquicentennial celebration.

“I saw him interacting with some kids who had been walking around our neighborhood at night, possibly getting into trouble,” Geiger recalled. “… I saw how he mentored those kids. To see how he came at it, not as a cop, but as a friend – it touched my heart.

“Last night, I heard those kids walking around the neighborhood again and I thought, ‘Who’s going to be their role model now?’ ”

The proclamation commended:

  • The 32 years that Koster spent “on duty for the people of West Michigan serving the Otsego Police Department, the Allegan County sheriff’s department and the Nashville police department.”
  • His commitment to the “safety and well-being of our children and in serving as a detective tasked with bringing child predators to justice.”
  • and the final chapter of his career in Barry County as Nashville police chief where he “made a permanent, positive impression on the lives of young people and on the streets” of Nashville.

The proclamation offered the county’s deepest condolences to Koster’s family and “its sincerest gratitude for his service to our communities and our children.”

After reading the proclamation, Geiger turned to Kyle Koster and said, “Your dad left a legacy that we all should live up to.”

Kyle Koster replied: “The only thing I would like to add is that my dad enjoyed every bit of his career because of the passion he developed from his father. We are grateful to have found our niche in the community.

“And we’ll continue to build his legacy and provide the protection that our community needs. Thank you.”

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