Grand Rapids on hunt for new police chief

Mark Washington Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

The city of Grand Rapids announced last week that the search for a new police chief is underway.

City Manager Mark Washington will work closely with the city’s human resources department and city commission-appointed Public Sector Search & Consulting Inc. (PSSC) to aid in the search and hiring process.

Washington said he intends for the search to be transparent and plans to hold public hearings in the coming weeks with residents and other community stakeholders who will share their opinions on what qualities the new chief should have to best fit the position.

PSSC also will reach out to community stakeholders to develop a candidate profile, and the city will host virtual public engagement events to gather feedback. Both groups will be asked to evaluate the personal characteristics and professional qualities that are most important for the head of the police department and provide their suggestions from those findings.

Later this year, the city also has plans in place to host open engagement opportunities with meet and greets between the community and police chief finalists.

“I encourage our residents and other community members to participate and have their voices heard,” Washington said. “Input from our neighborhoods and the community is critical to helping us find the right person.”

PSSC will gather and screen applicants once all community and stakeholder feedback has been collected, and the candidates will then be presented to the city, which will lead to interviews with several panels. The city manager then will receive critical feedback from the panelists, allowing him to make the official appointment, which is expected to take place early next year.

“It is important we have the right leader to ensure the safety and trust of our community,” Washington added. “I am looking for a candidate who is focused on building trust, preventing crime, improving response, providing transparency, valuing diversity and is an outstanding leader and great communicator. I also want someone who is collaborative and is committed to the goals surrounding community and neighborhood policing outlined in the department’s strategic plan. I look forward to hearing from the community on other qualities we need in our next police chief. I am confident that whomever I choose can help us strengthen community-police relationships and continue to build trust.”

In the interim, Chief Eric Payne, who announced his retirement from the position effective in the first quarter of 2022, will remain in his position through the appointment of the new police chief.

“I appreciate the leadership of Chief Payne and his commitment to staying on through this recruitment process. He is a dedicated and devoted public servant who cares deeply about the Grand Rapids community and the women and men he commands in the police department,” Washington said.

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