GRPD recruiting effort drives up number of applications

Program will pay for training and give 5 finalists a salary during schooling

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Attracted by a new incentive to join the Grand Rapids Police Department, more than 1,300 people applied to fill only five open positions.

It’s a big jump from the between 75 and 100 applications GRPD usually gets.

“It’s encouraging that there is that much interest. I would have been disappointed if the numbers weren’t impressive,” GRPD Chief David Rahinsky said.

Previously, applicants had to be certified, which means they had to pay for police training and complete academy training before applying.

“We’re now just asking for people who have a heart for public service, who want to be police officers regardless of your social status or your economic opportunities to put yourself through the academy,” Rahinsky said. “Whether you need an income to support a family if you are a single parent.”

The city is now paying for the academy and giving five finalists a salary of around $44,000 a year to cover the cost of living while they are in school. It’s not yet clear how many of the 1,300 applicants are actually eligible for the program.

Grand Rapids is working to increase the diversity of its police force. So how many of the new hires will be members of a minority?

“We haven’t looked at the number yet in terms of the demographics,” Rahinsky said.

Saturday, 750 of the applicants showed up to take a civil exam, the next step in the hiring process. Police didn’t immediately have a breakdown on how many of those were women or members of a minority.

“I don’t think there has been a more challenging time for police departments to go out to members of the community to ask their sons, their daughters, people they care about to wear this uniform,” Rahinsky said. “So I think the fact there has been so much interest in Grand Rapids speaks about an engaged community, speaks about a department that has a reputation of responsibleness.”

The chief hopes to make it the new standard for hiring.