GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — City Manager Mark Washington is getting closer to his decision for the next chief of the Grand Rapids Police Department.
On Friday morning, Washington spoke to News 8 on the WOOD TV8 Live Desk to share his thoughts from Wednesday night’s two-and-a-half-hour forum. It was there that each of the three finalists had the opportunity to formally introduce themselves and take questions from members of the Grand Rapids community.
“It was very direct. This is a very scrutinized position and there were a lot of tough questions that were asked of the candidates, and they gave us a realistic job preview for us to see how they respond under pressure because most of the time we see the police chief on TV is because unfortunately there’s been some kind of critical incident,” Washington said.
During Wednesday’s forum, Battle Creek Police Chief Jim Blocker mentioned his familiarity with the city of Grand Rapids. Washington said familiarity with the area is important, but so is the opportunity to get to know an area.
“The community will support those that care about them. I think coming from West Michigan, Battle Creek would obviously help with familiarity, but I think regardless of where the person is from what the community wants is a chief that is engaging, is a good communicator that cares about both community as well as wellbeing of his officers,” Washington said.
He also said that retired Milwaukee Police Inspector Jutiki Jackson, who was involved in a 1997 shooting, shouldn’t have his future as potentially our next police chief be defined by one event.
“I don’t think any one incident should define a person regardless of who they are — within or outside of law enforcement. Your life is more than just one incident. Having said that, there are critical incidents that are defining for every person, every moment,” Washington said.
He added that this is a job application, and we should evaluate people on merit.
“And the merit of the case was that there was due process both internal to the department and as well as in the criminal justice system, and there was not a conviction or discipline that was given to Mr. Jackson in that effort. He was cleared of that wrongdoing,” he said.
Washington said that Chicago Police Commander Eric Winstrom, who has experience working as an attorney, has brought the best of both together in his career.
“Policing is about people, but it’s also about the law. Knowing how to appropriately apply the law is important, but more importantly he’s not an attorney, he’s a career officer. He’s been in the uniform his entire career, he’s progressed through the ranks, and happened to bring the best of both worlds together in terms of his career,” Washington said.