In 1933, as Grandville first became a city, Henry Zandbergen served as the first police chief. Zandbergen served until 1940, when Peter Rinkevich succeeded him. Chief Rinkevich answered calls in the city’s first police car equipped with a radio, while his wife handled the police and fire calls from home. Rinkevich served as police chief until 1951, when he was killed in an off-duty auto accident.
Eugene Gilbert became the police chief after Rinkevich’s tragic accident. Chief Gilbert served as the head of the department until Bernard Skipper became chief in 1953. The department at that time consisted of the chief, a sergeant and six patrol officers. Under the direction of Chief Skipper, the Grandville Police Reserve Unit was developed. The unit was composed of uniformed civilians, many of whom were military veterans. These dedicated citizens supplemented the Police Department where workforce was necessary. They volunteered hundreds of hours annually at civic events, school functions and emergencies providing safety related services. The reserve officers were differentiated from the patrol officers by their distinctive shoulder patch which carried an “R” in the center of the patch. Several of the reserve officers ultimately became police officers for the city. The Reserve Unit existed until the 1990’s when it was disbanded due to ever increasing training requirements.
In 1971 Kenneth Madejczyk was appointed as the department’s police chief. Early on, he brought many technology changes to the department. For example, Grandville was among the first department to utilize computers for record keeping purposes. Chief Madejczyk also greatly improved radio communications by keeping current with the most updated changes to both vehicle and portable radios for the officers. Additionally, Grandville was one of the first departments in the area to issue every officer a protective ballistic vest. The Community Policing Program was first introduced while Madejczyk was serving as the chief.
The 1970’s also brought changes to the home of the department. Originally, City Hall, the Fire Department and the Police Department were all housed in one building on the site of the current Chase Bank. The council chambers were located in a former church located next door. Grandville outgrew all of these buildings and a new complex was built on the northwest corner of Prairie Street and Wilson Avenue, where it resides today. In 1981, our court changed its name from the Grandville Municipal Court to the 59th District Court. This change meant a courtroom and offices were added to the Police/Fire building.
Sadly, in 1999, the accomplishments and reputation of the Grandville Police Department became tarnished when an officer of the department uncovered suspicious activity by Chief Madjeczyk and, difficult as it was, set into motion a criminal investigation that ultimately resulted in the Chief’s arrest and removal from office. This sense of duty and accountability has become a core value of the Grandville Police Department that holds true even today.
The City of Grandville then hired Vern Snyder to replace Madejczyk. Chief Snyder instituted the School Police Liaison Officer program, which is now commonly called the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. Chief Snyder also instituted the Honor Guard program for Grandville and facilitated the Metropolitan Fraud & Identity Theft Team for all of Kent County.
Under the watchful eye of Chief Snyder, the current Police/Court building was completely rebuilt just after the millennium when the Fire Department moved its location across the street from the City Administrative Building. The dispatch entity of the police department was converted to a fully functional 911 Dispatch Center.
In 2008, after the retirement of Chief Snyder, Dennis Santo was internally promoted and took over as police chief. He served in this position until his retirement in 2012. Chief Santo oversaw the consolidation of our 911 Dispatch Center with the City of Wyoming. The consolidated 911 Dispatch Center was later transferred over to Kent County, who is our current Emergency Communication Center. During depressed budgetary times, Chief Santo integrated training and innovative scheduling to maintain our training standards while reducing costs. He also improved our equipment and added tactical survival equipment for each officer to carry while on duty. Chief Santo then retired in 2012 and Dan Steere was promoted from within the department to Chief of Police.
Under the leadership of Chief Steere, the Grandville Police Department grew to have 26 sworn officers and three civilian employees (two full-time and one part-time). In 2017, Chief Steere and Deputy Chief Anglim had the honor of working closely with the United States Secret Service to provide a secure route for our annual 4th of July Parade that hosted Vice President Mike Pence, Governor Rick Snyder and Congressman Bill Huizenga. Collaboratively, Deputy Chief Paul Anglim and Chief Steere also re branded the department by redesigning the graphics on the patrol vehicles and updating the uniforms and shoulder patches into the ones that we are wearing today. In 2019, Chief Steere added a second school resource officer to work mainly in the Grandville Middle School as a complement to the existing SRO who is based in the Grandville High School. Then, after a long career at the Grandville Police Department, Chief Steere retired in January 2020 and Paul Anglim was promoted as the Chief of Police.
Today, the department is proud to provide professional police services to the approximately 16,000 residents and countless guests with a total of 26 sworn officers and three civilian employees.
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