By Judy Reed
The City of Cedar Springs will lose one of its most respected and well-liked employees this week, when Police Chief Roger Parent retires after a 40-year career in law enforcement.
His last day is Friday, August 29.
Parent came to Cedar Springs 6-1/2 years ago, after a 33-1/2-year career with the Kent County Sheriff Department. He grew up in Alpine Township, graduated from Sparta High School, and joined the KCSD in 1974. He spent 20-plus years on road patrol in the northern area of Kent County, and worked on the E-unit out of the north substation. He became Lieutenant of Support Services, and then for the last year he was employed there, he was Lt. Commander over road patrol at the central sector and north substation, overseeing six sergeants and 20 patrol deputies.
But when the opening came here in Cedar Springs for a chief, Parent was ready for the challenge. “I’ve really enjoyed being the Chief in Cedar Springs,” remarked Parent. “It was busier than I thought it would be. A Chief has to take care of every aspect of the department. That was a change, but it goes with the position of being a Chief in a small city. It was a great choice and I’ve never regretted it.”
Parent said the thing he felt most pleased about was the knowledge and expertise he was able to bring from the KCSD to Cedar Springs. They converted to doing more things electronically, such as gun permits, and electronic crash reporting. And when he passed out memorandums to officers on the way he wanted to do things, he said many of the officers were already on board. “The officers were seasoned and they made my job easier. They just needed new leadership,” he explained.
City Manager Thad Taylor had high praise for Parent’s leadership skills. “Roger has a unique ability to bring a high level of professionalism, background experience, and skills and make it work in a small community,” explained Taylor. “He knows the job. He is professional, ethical, and has high standards. He is an effective communicator, a people person. He treats people correctly. He’s done a fabulous job for our community.”
Treating people right is one of Parent’s goals. He always tries to take their concerns seriously. “I believe in customer service. I’m not afraid to come out to the front counter to just sit down with people and give advice, even if it’s not a criminal situation,” Parent explained. “I’ve always told my officers to treat people the way they would want their parents to be treated. I’ve tried to treat people well throughout my career.”
Parent said that what he will miss most is his interaction with his co-workers—both City Hall workers and the officers. “You make friendships, and share things. I will miss that. You can keep in contact through social media, but it’s not quite the same,” he noted. “The other thing I will miss is—well, it’s the ending of a whole 40-year career.”
While Parent stays busy at City Hall—he is a working Chief, who also takes calls—he said he wouldn’t have any trouble relaxing at home, and is looking forward to spending time with his twin preschool grandchildren. And he has two more twin grandchildren on the way. “I’ll adjust fine,” he said with a chuckle.
The Post asked Parent what advice he would give to either a new police chief or the Kent County Sheriff Department—whoever takes over law enforcement for the community. He didn’t hesitate. “Keep our level of service to what it has become,” he said. “They would have to connect with the businesses and the schools. The schools know we are to work with them and the relationship has been great.”
He also added that they should continue to go to private property accidents and help motorists with lock out. “We do about 50 lockouts a year,” he explained. “We have the tool, so why not do it?”
There is a possibility that Parent will come back in civilian clothes as a consultant, a couple of days a week, if the City votes to go with the KCSD for policing. If that happens, he will come back to help dissolve the police department, doing the behind the scenes work to make that happen.
In the meantime, Officer Chad Potts, a 14-year veteran with Cedar Springs Police, will become acting Chief. “He will do a great job,” said Parent.
The Cedar Springs Post wishes Chief Parent the best in his retirement and we hope to see you in our neck of the woods again soon!