Zeeland thinking about dissolving police department

ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The future of the Zeeland Police Department has come under debate.

Longtime Chief William Olney is retiring on July 14 and the city council is using that as an opportunity to reevaluate the department as a whole.

The council is expected to create a “Police Services Review Committee” at its 7 p.m. Monday meeting. Though city leaders may choose to not make any changes, they could also get rid of the entire department.

Dissolving the department would not be easy. Because the city’s charter provides for a police department, it would have to be amended.

The council discussed the matter at a work study session earlier this month. Mayor Kevin Klynstra has credited the local police force with preventing gang problems and other crimes and he supports keeping it. Councilmember Schyuler Wilson seemed open to discuss the situation, noting that when other communities moved to service from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, they didn’t fire local officers — those officers simply began using different cars and uniforms.

>>PDF: Agenda for Monday meeting

City Manager Tim Klunder said it’s unlikely the city will have hired someone to replace Chief Olney before he retires. Olney said he’s willing to keep working part-time after retirement to create a smoother transition.