Meet recruits from GRPD’s most diverse class

Grand Rapids police recently hired most diverse recruitment class ever

GRPD, recruits
Left to right: Bernard Schaefer, Maria Newton and Ryan Johnson. Three members of the Grand Rapids Police Department's most diverse recruitment class ever.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — We’re meeting some of the recruits in the Grand Rapids Police Department’s most diverse class ever. The city is touting this as a success, saying a new plan to pay for recruits to attend academy helped attract this diverse class.

There are three African-American men, three Caucasian women, two Caucasian men, one Hispanic man, and one Asian-American woman. Nine of the recruits live in Kent County, three live in Grand Rapids.

grand rapids police department, diverse class
The Grand Rapids Police Department’s first recruiting class of 2017.

Bernard Schaefer II is 25. His mom is black, his dad is white. Mariah Newton is 23. Her dad is Asian, her mom is white and Ryan Johnston is 20 and both of his parents are white.

They joined for different reasons.

Schaefer’s mom was the first black judge in Kent County, his father started a nonprofit. Schaefer has worked with different community organizations, including the juvenile detention center.

“That really inspired a passion for me to see that others are safe,” said Schaefer.

Newton has blue in her blood. Her dad is an officer with GRPD.

“I find satisfaction with helping people,” she said.

Johnston’s parents are in school administration, but his grandfather also served as a police officer.

“Being a police officer you can truly give back to the community,” said Johnston.

They all have the same goal: to protect the people of Grand Rapids.

“The fact that it’s the one (city) that you you’ve grown up and have been raised in, there is a strong attachment and so you can see yourself in the people around you,” said Schaefer.

“I think it’s awesome to be able to give back to the community that’s given to us for so many years,” said Newton.

“It’s service to your community and the people that you love here,” said Johnston.

When faced accused of preferential treatment, the recruits say they still have the skills that are needed to be a good police officer.

“Everyone is still qualified,” said Newton. “Yeah, we’re diversified, but I think it’s appropriate.”

These three recruits feel that diversity is important to give more equal representation of the community and it helps the force understand people from different parts of the community.

“Grand Rapids is making a statement that they we want to include everybody,” said Schaefer. “We want to do things the right way. When you go beyond just saying that on the podium and you include people and you have a hiring practice to improve that’s a long term message that people can see.”

They will start their training at the end of next month and hope to be sworn in by October.