Grand Rapids Police Chief Retires: What’s Next?

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jan 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-08 18:36:54-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.,– Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk is retiring after nearly 34 years of service with the department. Chief Belk will end his employment with Grand Rapids on Feb. 7.

Belk says it’s one of the toughest decisions he has had to make in his life.

I’m excited about what the next chapter brings but I have no immediate plans,” he said.

He joined GRPD in 1980 as a Patrol Officer, and became an Investigator two years later.  He would also be promoted to Police Sergeant in 1988, Investigative Supervisor in 1989, and Deputy Commander of the Detective Unit as a Lieutenant in 1993.  Belk was further promoted to Police Captain in 1996, and served as Commander of the Investigative Division until 2003. 

In that role, he oversaw a staff of 80 people, and was responsible for investigating all criminal activity in the city.  Also in 2003, he was named the Commander of the Support Services Division.

When Chief Harry Dolan retired in 2007, Belk was named the Acting Police Chief, and officially earned the title of Chief of Police in 2008.

“We’re in good shape, good leadership, good people and I’m very proud of the department as I leave it,” he said.  

Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom has the job of hiring a new police chief. He says Belk has transformed the department. “It’s a lean, mean machine and it’s very efficient and his employees are doing an incredible job.”

Sundstrom says Chief Belk’s leadership will be missed; a day that sticks out to him is the Rodrick Dantzler shooting spree in 2011.

“He brought a calming influence yet a very strong response. It involved many departments in the region all under his leadership and he was the spokesperson for the community that evening and I can’t imagine it being done better by anyone,” he said.

While the process is just beginning, Sundstrom says they will be taking the search national.

“We will be hiring a search firm; we will be doing a national search.  We need to find the right compliment of skills to bring here,” he said.

 Sundstrom says he also hopes to get the community involved in the decision, meeting with citizens to get their thoughts on the right qualities they think are needed.

He is hoping to have a new chief by summer and in the meantime Belk will continue to serve as transitional chief.