GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky is retiring.
The city announced Wednesday that Rahinsky’s resignation would be effective Feb. 5, but that his last day in the office would be Dec. 18 as he takes vacation around the holidays. A letter from the new city manager said Rahinsky was moving to be closer to his family.
Rahinsky, who has been in law enforcement for 32 years, took over as top cop at the Grand Rapids Police Department on July 7, 2014. Before that, he was the police chief in Franklin, Tennessee.
“He has shared with me that he considers his role as our police chief as the highlight of his career,” City Manager Mark Washington wrote in the letter to the mayor and City Commission.
He thanked Rahinsky for his service, saying he had made GRPD “a model for other law enforcement agencies across the country.” He noted achievements like the department’s earning of national CALEA accreditation, the implementation of body cameras and the hiring of diverse recruitment classes. He also credited the chief with overseeing the creation of bias-free policing and youth interaction policies.
But Rahinsky’s tenure has also been marred by damaging incidents involving race. Within the last two years, a study found minorities were being pulled over more frequently than white drivers, and there have been multiple incidents involving unarmed black children being held at gunpoint or handcuffed by officers, which led to the development of the youth interaction policy.
GRPD Capt. Mike Maycroft, who heads up the Police Command Officers Association, said command staff was surprised when Rahinsky met with them and gave them the news of his retirement shortly before it was announced publicly.
“Chief Rahinsky led our department during a tumultuous time for law enforcement in this country’s history. He showed empathy, compassion, and an understanding of our community’s needs and concerns. We wish him the best in his retirement and thank him for his 32 years of service in public safety,” Maycroft said in a statement.
Grand Rapids Police Officers Association President Andy Bingle had no comment.
Rank-and-file officers say they didn’t get any internal message warning them of Rahinsky’s departure before it was made public.
About 45 minutes after Washington’s letter was sent to the media, officers got an email from Rahinsky in which he said he had been “privileged to work with officers and civilians of the highest caliber” in Grand Rapids. He went on to reference the same achievements Washington noted.
But he said that “while my professional career has been blessed, it has come at the sacrifice of time spent with parents, children and my granddaughter.” He said he had reached the “difficult decision” to retire.
Rahinsky’s family, including his granddaughter, live in southern Florida. Last year, he applied for a job in that region, but didn’t get it.
“The draw of family is not going to dissipate,” Rahinsky told 24 Hour News 8 November 2017.
Washington said the city would work with a national search firm to find a new chief and expected to release a plan for the hiring process within the next couple of weeks. He said he wanted a chief would keep the community safe and continue working to strengthen the department’s relationship with the community.
The city manager also said he’ll announce who will serve as interim chief in the coming days.
Rahinsky and Washington are expected to hold a news conference on the chief’s resignation Thursday morning.