Police Chief Kevin Belk - photo from Peter Ross
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom announced Wednesday morning that Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk is retiring.
Belk has been with the Grand Rapids Police Department for 34 years. He has been Chief of Police since 2008.
Belk told WZZM 13's Peter Ross that serious or Part I crime has declined about 33% during his tenure as chief. At the same time, Belk had to shrink the department during the city's fiscal crisis.
"We've downsized the organization - had to streamline things here at the police department - become more efficient but at the samed time frame we've been able to make some significant reductions in crime across the board so I'm very proud of that."
According to the city, Belk joined the police department in 1980 as a Patrol Officer and became an Investigator in 1982. He was promoted to sergeant in 1988. In 1989, he became the Investigative Supervisor and oversaw the General Case Team. In 1993, he became a Lieutenant and was the Deputy Commander of the Detective Unit. In 1996, he was promoted to Captain and served as Commander of the Investigative Division from 1996 until 2003.
Belk became Acting Police Chief in 2007 when then chief Harry Dolan retired.
Belk has also served on the boards of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth, the Children's Assessment Center, Salvation Army, Kent ISD Criminal Justice Program, Kent County Dispatch Authority, NorthPointe Christian Schools, Mel Trotter Ministries Capital Campaign and more.
Mayor George Heartwell said in a press release, "Chief Kevin Belk is leaving Grand Rapids a safer place. He has successfully integrated community policing into the fabric of the Grand Rapids Police Department's services. This legacy deserves the respect of our entire community."
Chief Kevin Belk stated in a news release: "It has been a tremendous honor for me having been able to serve as a Grand Rapids Police Officer since May 27, 1980. Since that time, I have had the privilege of working with the finest people that anyone could meet. The men and women of the Grand Rapids Police Department are very dedicated and caring public servants who have committed their lives to the safety and security of the community."
Belk's last day will be February 7.
He says he's "excited about opportunities that may come about - I'll be looking to keep busy - I'm certainly too young to stay home."
City Manager Greg Sundstrom, who will pick Belk's replacement, said the Chief has made the GRPD "recognized as one of the top departments in the nation and for this we owe Chief Belk a debt of gratitude".