4 finalists in line to take over as GRPD chief

Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom, right, will select the next chief of the Grand Rapids Police Department in early July. (June 23, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Four men have been named finalists for the job of chief of police for the Grand Rapids Police Department.

As 24 Hour News 8 reported Friday, none of the finalists are from within the ranks of the GRPD.

However, one is a former GRPD captain who is now the chief in a Grand Rapids’ suburb.

Mark Herald, public safety chief in East Grand Rapids, joins David Rahinsky, chief of police in Franklin Tenn.; Michael Reaves, public safety chief in Port Huron, Mich.; and Ernest Finley Jr., a deputy chief with the Atlanta Police Department.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Biographies of the finalists courtesy the City of Grand Rapids (pdf)

All four will be in Grand Rapids this week for public forums and a second interview.

Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom told 24 Hour News 8 that 42 people applied for the job.

“We had numerous strong candidates in the pool as a whole, but these four stood out as the four strongest,” Sundstrom said.

The selection process, which involved a number of community meetings and other types of outreach, helped set the profile for the four candidates.

There has also been speculation on the role race may play in the selection of the next police chief, fueled by comments made by Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and other commissioners when Kevin Belk, who is white, was named chief in 2008.

Heartwell wanted then Deputy Chief James Ferris, who is black, to be appointed as chief.

“No one has given me any sort of direction to that sort,” Sundstrom said of the current selection process. “No one has even suggested it would be their preference.”

The selection is also expected to draw criticism from within the ranks of the GRPD. Four command officers applied for the job, but none of them made the finalist list.

Sundstrom said the four internal candidates were well qualified.

“When you get to this point level, there is no failure,” Sundstrom said. “It’s separating stars from superstars.”

Community forms are set for Wednesday at Cesar Chavez Elementary School on Grandville Avenue SW from 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Spanish-speaking members of the community will get a chance to ask candidates questions then.

Another community forum will be held Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum for English-speaking residents.

Sundstrom said he expects to appoint the new chief sometime in early July.

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