Sundstrom outlines plan for new police chief hire

(file photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – What do you want to see in a new police chief for the state’s second largest city?

That is the question Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom is putting out to the public, as the process begins to replace retiring Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk.

“Community input is critical to finding the best police chief to lead our community,” Sundstrom wrote in a Monday news release announcing the search process.

Belk’s appointment in 2008 by then-Grand Rapids City Manager Curt Kimball grew criticism from Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and others on the city commission who wanted a minority candidate.

Sundstrom wouldn’t address that criticism directly, but told 24 Hour News 8 this time around the community will have more chances to provide input.

“I believe that I put together a process with plenty of opportunity for all,” said Sundstrom.

Before the interview process begins, Sundstrom said he wants the community to create a kind of profile for the type of chief it wants.

Sundstrom has created an online form for residents to give input. You can link to the form at

The City will also hold three community meetings, one in each commission ward, to get input. The meetings are scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. as follows:

  • 1st Ward – Feb. 18 at 2014 Union High School, 1800 Tremont Boulevard NW
  • 2nd Ward – Feb. 19 at 2014 City-High Middle School, 1720 Plainfield Ave. NE
  • 3rd Ward – Feb. 20 at 2014 Gerald R. Ford Middle School, 851 Madison Ave. SE

Sundstrom said he will use the community input to create the profile, and begin the recruitment process by posting the job March 17. Those applications will be due April 28.

He is also bringing an outside firm to help recruit candidates.

He will select finalists in May and June.

“After narrowing the field of candidates to the Top 3, a community forum will be held in which citizens will be asked to match the police chief candidate profile with the best candidate,” said Sundstrom in the news release.

Neighborhood associations, business groups, the Ministerial Alliance and members of the local law enforcement community will also have meet-and-greets with the finalists.

Those meetings will be scheduled in July, with a new chief named sometime that month.

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