GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For the second time in less than three years, the process is underway to find a new police chief for Grand Rapids.
The process to find a new chief kicks into full gear next month, with the search firm hired to recruit candidates putting together a profile of the kind of person Grand Rapids is looking for.
“That involves engaging the community, getting feedback from the department and the elected officials on the ideal qualities of a police chief,” said Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington. “Unfortunately with the pandemic — where we would normally like to be out in each ward and each part of the city talking to people — but a lot of the engagement will probably be virtually.”
The Grand Rapids Public Safety Committee addressed several ongoing items during its meeting Tuesday afternoon, including an update on the search process for a new police chief.
“The plan right now is to use October to work with the search consultants’ representatives to be able to develop that profile. That includes engagement with the community; that’s the full community,” said Grand Rapids Assistant City Manager Doug Matthews. “We have business representatives, we have public sector, private sector, nonprofit community representatives, neighborhood representatives that we’ll reach out to just to ask the question, ‘What are the things you’re interested in seeing in the leadership of the police department?’”
Watch a replay of the meeting below.
The profile will be completed by sometime in October.
In November, the search firm will use the profiles to recruit candidates.
Finalist could be named as early as January, with a new chief selected shortly after that announcement.
Current Chief Eric Payne, who announced his retirement in early August, says he’ll stay on until a new chief takes over.
While the process in 2021 mirrors the process in 2019, time have changed.
And as in other cities, civil unrest further exposed the lack of trust between police and some members of the community.
Washington says the successful candidate will have to demonstrate the ability to roll up their sleeves and prove to the community and to the members of the department that they are a leader that is trustworthy.
“Having said that, there are a lot of people in this community who do appreciate and trust our police department and so they have to find a way to leverage that as well,” said Washington.
While the search is nationwide, Washington says he’s not ruling out candidates from within the department.
During the Grand Rapids Public Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday, a regional public safety training center presentation presented by Grand Rapids Community College also took place.
“Our entire purpose is to provide opportunities that are responsive to community needs through educational and training programs, which ultimately benefit the broader community. It is in the spirit of that community responsiveness that the public safety work began,” Brian Knetl, the provost and executive vice president of academic and student affairs for GRCC, said.
—News 8’s Luke Laster contributed to this report.