City begins search for next police chief

Published on September 22, 2021

Grand Rapids Police Department badge sign hanging outside its headquarters.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The process to select Grand Rapids’ next police chief is officially underway. The City Commission took the first step in the process last week, approving a contract with executive search firm, Public Sector Search & Consulting Inc. (PSSC). PSSC will work closely with the City’s Human Resources Department and City Manager Mark Washington during the police chief search and hiring process.

City Manager Mark Washington said the police chief hiring process will be transparent and include a robust public engagement component. In the coming weeks, residents and other community stakeholders will be asked to share their thoughts on what he needs to look for in the next police chief.

The City will hold virtual public engagement events in the near future to gather feedback. Additionally, PSSC will reach out to community stakeholders to develop a candidate profile. Each group will be asked to provide feedback on the personal characteristics and professional experience that are most important for the person who will next lead the Grand Rapids Police Department.

“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 select the right person.”

Following the community engagement process, Public Sector Search & Consulting will gather and screen applications. The candidates will be presented to the City and interviewed by several panels. The panelists will provide critical feedback to the City Manager, who will make the appointment – expected early next year.

“It is important we have the right leader to ensure the safety and trust of our community,” Washington said. “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.”

Washington assures the community that Chief Eric Payne will remain on the job through the appointment of the new chief. Last month, after more than 30 years-of-service, Chief Payne announced his retirement planned for the first quarter of 2022.

“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.

The City also plans to hold open public engagement opportunities to meet and greet police chief finalists later this year.

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