Early look at GRPD chief job posting

(file photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Those interested in becoming Grand Rapids next police chief will have a better idea of what members of the community expect them to bring to the job starting Monday.

24 Hour News Eight has obtained a copy of the Community Police Chief Profile which will be the official job posting for police chief applicants.

The description goes on the city website Monday.

It’s a unique, two page job posting listing dozens of recommendations, ranging from a chief who can handle social and racial issues, to a leader who can address the basics of law enforcement.

The first page lists the characteristics the city is looking for including a willingness to listen to all members of the community, to understanding social networks and the lingo of young people.

The Characteristics of the Grand Rapids Police Chief headline on the posting stated: “The Police Chief needs to be able to walk in every community with honesty and integrity. She/He must be able to listen, communicate, and engage young and old, rich and poor, males and females, and citizens from every race and ethnic background.”

The second page of the posting lists the vision and focus of the Grand Rapids Police Chief including increasing the number of officers of color on the force and reaching out to different areas of the community through collaboration, among many other things.

The headline of the section reads as follows: “We need to grow community policing. We need to integrate police officers with every neighborhood and make every citizen part of keeping our community safe. We need a Police Chief with a vision to take community policing to the next level in Grand Rapids.”

Sundstrom developed the job posting after surveying and interviewing nearly 800 residents, city employees, police officers and others over the last month.

“We’re gonna look all over this country and we’re going to find the people that best match this candidate profile,” Sundstrom told 24 Hour News Eight earlier this week.

He, and members of the community who will help him choose the next chief, have a tough job ahead.

“It’s also probably the number one thing I have to do that would cause the city manager to get fired. So I want to do it with great care,” Sundstrom said in the earlier interview.

Part of the process involves navigating potentially dangerous political waters.

In 2008, when now retiring Police Chief Kevin Belk was chosen for the job, Mayor George Heartwell made public his dissatisfaction with the choice by then city Manager Kurt Kimball.

Heartwell and others on the city commission wanted then Deputy Chief James Farris, who is African-American, appointed to the job.

Despite several mentions of diversity in the various surveys and during public comments on the chief selection process, it’s not a forgone conclusion that the new chief will be a minority.

“Diversity came up several different ways,” said Sundstrom in the earlier interview. “One, someone who understands diversity. Someone who would work harder to make Grand Rapids have a diverse department.”

“Ya know what, I’ll be happy to hire from any ethnic group in the world, male or female, if they can… move us forward,” said Sundstrom.

The job posting will be closed at the end of April.

Once the top three to six candidates are chosen, more additional community interviews will be held to see how the candidates stack up to the community generated profiles.

Sundstrom hopes to have an announcement of a new chief by July.

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