GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) —
Being police officer is a dangerous job, with long hours under stressful conditions. The bad guys pose a daily threat.
And these days, so do the powers that control the budget. The Grand Rapids Police Department has shrunk by about 25% since 2008.
Despite those challenges, GRPD had about 400 people apply for 10 positions that pay about $40,000 a year.
Those 10 new officers took their oath of office Wednesday.
“My dad’s a doctor. My mom’s a school teacher. They raised me to live a life of service and I think that’s reflected in this career,” Chicago native Ben Umanos, one of GRPD’s new officers, said.
“We want to be out there helping people. We’re there for people. We see people in their darkest hour at times. We’re there to help build them up and help them when we can,” Umanos continued.
He and his fellow new officers don’t all look like fresh-face academy graduates — and that’s a good thing.
Most bring experience you can’t get at the academy. Four of the new officers, including Umanos, worked for other police agencies. Two are military veterans.
“The two that we have have combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. One was awarded the Bronze Star, as well. So we have these high-quality recruits with a lot of vast life experience who’ve shown leadership,” GRPD Lt. Mike Maycroft said.
What does that mean for the public?
“They get a very good product in the end here. We have the best and the brightest,” Maycroft said.
The qualifications of the new officers could also help GRPD through a critical transition. As larger numbers of veteran officer retire, the younger officers move up the ranks more rapidly — so it’s particularly important for them to have experience.
The 10 positions will be paid for through the city’s general fund. The officers will fill other positions left vacant when officers retire or quit.
Another recruit class — this one for 10 officers that are being hired through a federal grant — has been scheduled for June.
The deadline for applications is Friday, Jan. 31. More information can be found online here.