Leaders: GRPD chief must ‘engage in community’

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) — Leaders say new Grand Rapids Police Department Chief David Rahinsky needs to embrace the city’s minority communities.

David Rahinksy — currently the police chief in Franklin, Tenn. — was named Friday to the position vacated by former chief Kevin Belk.

Racial diversity has been one of the criteria set forth by the community in the hiring of the last two chiefs. Leaders of African American and Hispanic outreach groups in the city say Rahinksy should keep that in mind.

“There’s a need for him to really engage in community — to listen to, to get to know the community and to be very open to some of the opinions of residents and business owners and others who have a vested interest in our community,’ said Joe Jones, president of the Grand Rapids Urban League, who was on the committee that chose the new chief.

“That will help for the police department, because our community will see the police as a friend,” Carlos Sanchez, the interim director of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, said. “Who knows? A kid or two might think, ‘You know what? I like him, I like her, I respect them and I would like to become a police officer.'”

Rahinsky said he plans on being in Grand Rapids during the coming weekend and will start work on July 7.

“We look forward to working with the new chief,” a Monday statement from the Grand Rapids police officers’ union said. “We were disappointed that there were no internal candidates (who became finalists), but we have moved past that and look forward to working with the new chief.”

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