Retirees give advice to new GRPD officers

GRPD rookie Jacob Zuby and retiree Vern Snyder. (Jan. 25, 2016)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In the back corner of a downtown Grand Rapids restaurant, two generations of law enforcement met for lunch on Monday.

Vern Snyder, now retired, previously served on the Grand Rapids Police Department and is a law enforcement veteran of nearly four decades who says he would do it all over again.

“Yeah. There’s no question. I had a wonderful career,” he said.

Jacob Zuby is new to the force.

“Back when he (Snyder) started, it was a completely different era of police work,” Zuby said.

A mentoring session for new Grand Rapids police officers with retirees. (Jan. 25, 2016)
Monday’s mentoring session.

The two are part of a new program aimed at preparing rookie GRPD officers for the job. The retired officers meet for lunch with the new officers, providing advice on the ins and out of the job.

“Part of the purpose of this thing is to understand the job better, maybe what they’re getting into, find out what their expectations are,” Snyder said.

Of course, law enforcement today isn’t like it was 40 or even 20 years ago, when the retirees signed up.

“It’s imperative to know how we used to police when trying to change how we police in the future,” Zuby said.

While the rules and practices have changed and the attitude toward law enforcement has suffered in the time since these veterans put on the badge, both Snyder and Zuby agree the same basic factors still apply.

“Make sure they’re doing the right things and the right way. And if you are, then you, at least, are not going to contribute to that negative attitude that the public has,” said Snyder, who added he supports new innovations like body cameras.

It can be simple as the way an officer handles a traffic stop.

“Certainly we have time to tell the person, ‘The reason we stopped you is we just had an incident that involved a vehicle like yours. We had to find out.’ The motorist leaves the scene thinking that well, they’re out there doing their job,” Snyder said.

Zuby puts it another way:

“If you’re operating with common sense, you’re going to do the right thing,” he said.

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