KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — After 34 years as a Grand Rapids police officer, including six as the department’s chief, Kevin Belk is returning to familiar territory.
Recently named the senior vice president at DK Security, he’ll be in charge of the agency’s Armed Division, Investigations and Special Operations.
“Another thing we’re looking at doing is creating an emergency response team so we can respond to a larger event — a problem, a crisis,” added Belk, who retired from his post as Grand Rapids police chief in February 2014.
Some of his duties may sound more appropriate for a big city police department than private security firm. But with traditional municipal police departments constantly looking for ways to do more with less, DK’s role and that of other private security firms is expanding.
“Public sector police departments across the country have been reducing their ranks over the last several years and more and more is going to continue to fall on the private sector,” Belk explained.
“Armed security is a whole different level than typical night watchman or guards. We’ve expanded that role,” said John Kendall, a retired U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Michigan, who along with retired FBI Supervisory Agent Bob DuHadway founded DK Security in 1994.
Kendall said he has talked with local police agencies about taking over some responsibilities, like providing K-9 units and crime scene investigation.
“There’s no reason for the police to be tied up with a fender bender for a half hour. We can direct traffic,” Kendall said. “Matter of fact, who do you think we hire? We hired retired police officers.”
Neighborhoods in cities like Detroit and Chicago have gone even further, hiring firms to pick up more of the work load from city police departments.
But there’s a line between directing traffic and making an arrest.
“I don’t see that happening here,” Kendall said. “And I’m not so sure we want to get into that business. That’s pushing the envelope. That’s police work.”