GHDPS change of command

It's a new day at the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety as the leadership torch was officially passed this morning from Capt. Rick Yonker, who had served as the acting director for the past 13 months, to new Director Jeffrey Hawke.
Alex Doty
Jan 9, 2012


“I’m very honored to have been chosen as the director for public safety for Grand Haven,” said Hawke, who was surrounded by his wife, Lisa; and daughters Sam, Sophie and Ella.

Hawke, 47, was most recently a public safety instructor at Mecosta Osceola Career Center. He also served as the public safety department director in Cadillac from 2002 to 2010, when he retired. He began working at the Cadillac department in 1986. He worked through the ranks as patrol officer, sergeant and captain.

“He has seen it all as he’s worked his way through law enforcement,” Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

McGinnis also said Hawke has experience in special assignment areas — including school liaison officer, K-9 handler, detective with the Traverse Narcotics Team, evidence technician, and firearms and chemical agent instructor.

One of two finalists for the job, Hawke was selected over Curtis VanderKooi, a 56-year-old patrol commander with the Grand Rapids Police Department.

“I’m looking forward to working with a great staff at the Department of Public Safety, and have already had some great experiences in Grand Haven in the last week,” Hawke said.

Hawke added that he has activities planned today to meet more of the community and get to know people.

Mayor Geri McCaleb said today’s ceremony was the beginning of many positives for the department.

“I think this was a very impressive ceremony and got everyone kicked off to a good start,” she said. “I wish Chief Hawke the best.”

Prior to Hawke’s selection, the city had been searching for a new public safety director since the dismissal of Dennis Edwards in February 2011. Edwards was put on administrative leave in late 2010.

Yonker has been the interim chief since December 2010. He said he didn’t have any aspirations or desire to become the new police chief when the job was posted last year.

“I enjoyed my opportunity to fill in at the time and did the best I could,” Yonker said.

To see more photos from the ceremony, click here.


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