City Manager Kurt Kimball has announced a new acting police chief–Captain Kevin Belk–as well as plans to conduct a nationwide search for a new police chief. Kimball–who is given the responsibility to hire the new police chief in the City’s Charter–has stated in a memo that he “recognize[s] that the community has an extraordinary interest in providing input as part of this process.” According to a memo from Kimball sent out to news organizations by the City of Grand Rapids, Kimball plans to:
Engage our partners in the neighborhoods to help us broadly advertise the opportunity for citizens to contribute their responses to a questionnaire that has been developed to elicit input from the community. I will also write directly to a host of organizations and special interest groups encouraging them to broadly distribute the questionnaire and to invite them to provide an organizational response, if they so desire. Finally, plans are in the works to conduct four community forums to provide an early opportunity for face-to-face citizen involvement in this important selection process.
Kimball says that the cost of the search process should not exceed $50,000, an amount that includes the money to hire a consult to do a national search while also considering internal candidates, as was done with naming Harry Dolan head of the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) in 2007. Kimball’s timeline calls for the gathering of community input in September, recruitment of candidates in October and November, selection and interview of semifinalists in November and December, selection and review of finalists in January, and the appointment of a new Chief of Police in February 2008. The semifinalist interviews will be private and will be conducted by Human Resources Director Mari Beth Jelks, Equal Opportunity Director Ingrid Scott-Weekly, Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong, Assistant City Manager Jose Reyna, and City Manager Kurt Kimball. He has also indicated that he will ask local law enforcement professionals to participate in the meeting. According to Kimball, following the semifinalist interview process, he will announce the finalists and “provide opportunity for all to get to know the finalists and provide their perspectives on the finalists.”