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NAACP asks city of Grand Rapids to restart search for next police chief

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jan 25, 2022

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The NAACP’s Grand Rapids branch has formally requested the city of Grand Rapids to start over in the search for its next police chief.

In a letter to stakeholders, the civil rights organization says residents should play a greater role in the screening and selection process, adding this was not done in the search that led to the selection of the current pool of finalists.

GRPD chief candidates

The NAACP cites incidents of alleged discrimination involving the Grand Rapids Police Department that have occurred over the last several years, claiming those incidents resulted in a loss of community trust in the department. The organization says more resident involvement would lead to diverse candidates for police chief.

The NAACP goes on to say that the current pool of top candidates do not meet the qualities that Grand Rapids residents look for.

The letter goes on to highlight what the NAACP calls red flags regarding each finalist’s qualities and respective histories.

The civil rights organization ends its statement requesting the city of Grand Rapids to restart the search for GRPD’s next police chief with a staffing consultant that has demonstrated firm community involvement.

The NAACP says candidates for police chief should possess the following:

  • Qualities outlined by the NAACP in a document given to the city on Oct. 8, 2021.
  • A long history of improving police relations with community members.
  • Commitment to apply recommendations outlined by the 21st Century Policing Task Force Report.

Read the full letter from the NAACP here:

Grpd Chief Search x Naacp by WXMI on Scribd

Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington released the following statement in response to the NAACP's request:

"We have recently completed an exhaustive national search and interview process for our next police chief. Our search garnered interest from senior law enforcement professionals from across the country. The three finalists brought forward possess many of qualities the community informed profile highlighted. This police chief hiring process is one of the most transparent and community engaged recruitments when compared to the other 1,600 employees in our workforce and is nearly identical to the process we used when selecting Chief Payne. Our consultant has a demonstrated history developing and attracting a diverse candidate pool.

"I have a profound respect for the 112-year brand and legacy of the NAACP and its years of successfully advocating for civil rights and equity. I respect its right to be vocal and demanding and would expect no less from an accomplished civil rights organization. While I certainly understand and respect its perspective, I do not agree with its conclusion. While some of the NAACP concerns regarding the finalists seem to be based on familiarity with specific programs and policies in the context of the candidates’ current communities, there are other aspects of their candidacies and capabilities that will be factored into my decision which were not addressed in its letter.

"While I am proceeding with the process that I outlined to the community and candidates, I will make sure that the issues pointed out by the NAACP and other community feedback are vetted with any selected candidate before a final job offer. I will endeavor to continue to work with our partners from the NAACP, just as we worked with it on developing the profile for the police chief position, Youth Interaction Policy, Police Department Strategic Plan Use of Force, Surveillance Policy and Office of Public Accountability workgroup launch."

Washington says the public comment period ends Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 5 p.m.

READ MORE: GRPD chief candidates discuss wide range of topics in interview with FOX 17

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