Public hears from 2 GHDPS candidates

The public on Wednesday had a chance to meet with Jeff Hawke and Curtis VanderKooi, the two finalists selected by the city for the vacant public safety director position.
Alex Doty
Nov 10, 2011

VanderKooi, 56, a patrol commander of the Southeast Service Area for the Grand Rapids Police Department, said he was looking forward to serving the community he frequented as a vacation destination for the past 30 years.

“I love my country and I see myself as a patriot,” he said, adding that he felt like those qualities would fit in with the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival.

VanderKooi also said his parents taught him lessons in having faith in God and hard work.

If hired, VanderKooi said he would look to instill positive ethics, quality and service traits to the public safety team.

Hawke, 47, began his career with the Cadillac Department of Public Safety in 1986; he became its director in 2002 and retired in 2010.

Hawke said he looked forward to working at a respected public safety department.

“You have a lot to be proud of here,” he said. “Your public safety department is well-respected in a majority of the state, and I would be proud to come here and be a part of your community in Grand Haven.”

Hawke said he had experience with firefighting training — but, if hired, would like to take refresher courses and also gain experience as a medical first-responder.

In addition to introducing themselves to the city, the two candidates also fielded questions from residents in the audience. The questions ranged from whether the new director should reside within city limits to how they would change the department’s organizational structure.

Citizens now have a chance to provide input on the two candidates. City Manager Pat McGinnis said residents will be able to use the city website to provide candidate input, using the “Contact Us” link on the page, for the rest of the week. Or click here.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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