How will new GRPD Chief handle diversity issue?

David Rahinsky, most recently the police chief in Franklin, Tenn., has been named the new chief of police for the Grand Rapids Police Department. (June 26, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A new chief has been named to lead the Grand Rapids Police Department.

Franklin, Tenn. Police Chief David Rahinsky was named the next police chief on Friday by Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom, following several community forums and discussions.

An issue that came up often during the forums was diversity among the police force. It is an issue city leaders are aware of.

“We are increasingly becoming a whiter department and it is important to me and the department and to the community that our next chief does a better job of recruiting,” said City Manager Greg Sundstrom. “This is not a Grand Rapids issue, it is national issue. There are 22 police academies in the State of Michigan. Less than six percent of all the graduates were people of color.”

For those that were in that small percentage, they had their choice of more than 600 departments just in Michigan alone.

“It is very, very difficult to find a young person graduating from the police academy, a person of color to come to your department. We are not the only department with this issue we are not the only state with this issue,” said Sundstrom

New Police Chief Rahinsky told 24 Hour News 8 he does have a plan to help diversify the force. He says the force should mirror the community.

“We need to reach out to the communities obviously. Grand Rapids has done a great job of doing so. The earlier we can reach out to the elementary schools, middle schools, start building those relationships from an early age to start making the next generations of Grand Rapids police officers,” Rahinsky explained.

It is a plan City Manager Sundstrom seems to agree with.

“I think we might have to start younger and grow our own,” said Sundstrom.

Another area that came up often during the search for a new police chief was community policing.

“The community is ready. Neighborhood associations have made this very clear to me. They do not want a community policing model only 40 hours a week,” said Sundstrom. “They’d like to see it around the clock, if possible. That is going to take resources so I’m going to be working with the new chief to see what we can do.”

Rahinsky’s first day on the job is July 7. He will replace former Chief Kevin Belk who officially retired from the force in early February.

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