GRPD struggling to fill open positions

The Grand Rapids Police Department installs new officers. (Jan. 14, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department has a bit of problem. It has open positions it can’t fill quickly enough.

GRPD has welcomed several new recruitment classes in the last few years, but there are indications the department will be playing catch up in hiring over the next few years.

The subject same up during the city commissioners’ annual update Tuesday afternoon. One topic was police outcomes and whether efficiency and community relations changes have worked. Staffing was part of that discussion.

Despite the most recent class of recruits, GRPD will still be down about a dozen officers. And with between 25 and 30 officers who were hired during a spree two decades ago preparing to retire, the force may be even further depleted. Tuesday, there was talk of adding more classes of recruits.

But there a bigger problems with attracting people to the job.

“The truth of the matter is law enforcement has become a much less desirable career,” Mari Beth Jelks, the managing director of Administrative Services in Grand Rapids, explained. “We used to have 1,200 people taking exams and we, like other jurisdictions, are now down to 200.”

Right now, anyone hired by GRPD has to have already gone through the academy at their own expense. The city may look at ways at accepting candidates who aren’t yet certified and put them through the academy, a model used by the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.

Anyone interested in applying to be a Grand Rapids police officer can visit the department’s website or call Officer Jason Gady at 616.456.4247.

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