New deputy starts in Cedar Springs
By Judy Reed
Twenty-two years ago, Jason VanDyke, then 24, was a fresh-faced graduate from the criminal justice program at Grand Rapids Community College. He worked as a part time deputy at Wayland, Allegan and Martin, and decided to put in for the full-time position in the City of Cedar Springs. He was one of 70 applicants.
Scott Brown got the full time position, and VanDyke was hired part time, then soon changed to full time. He worked for the Cedar Springs Police Department until 1996, when he hired on at the Kent County Sheriff Department to be able to pursue more opportunities. He’s had plenty of opportunities and experience there, and the opportunity they offered him this year was to come back to Cedar Springs. And he couldn’t be happier.
“It’s a privilege to be able to come back and work here again,” remarked VanDyke. “It’s a great community; a hard-working Red Flannel town.”
While at the Kent County Sheriff Department, VanDyke worked as a patrol officer, worked on the E-Unit, and on the tactical and SWAT teams from 1996 to 2003, and worked in the detective unit from 2003 to 2006. He went back out on patrol in 2007, and then did community policing from 2008-2009. From 2009 to the present, he patrolled northern Kent County. VanDyke grew up in Wyoming, and attended Grandville High School. But that side of the county is not where his heart is.
“All of my years on patrol except one, I patrolled this area,” he explained. “It was a choice. This is where I want to be. I’ve lived up here since 1992. It’s my home.”
When VanDyke heard about the Sheriff Department’s proposal to do policing in Cedar Springs, he was excited for the community. “I knew they could offer more services, programs, education, community policing,” he said. But he also knew all the officers, and was glad to hear they would be hired on. “They’re good officers. They know what they are doing. They just need training in the way the county does things,” he added.
VanDyke said he had put in a bid to work in Cedar Springs next year, and then when Ed Good transferred to court duty, a slot opened up for full time here right away. He started full time for the city on Monday, January 12. “I’m really happy to be working here,” he said.
While out on patrol in the northern Kent County area, he covered eight townships. “It was busy to say the least. It’s nice to be in a smaller community, where you know people, and it’s a little slower-paced,” he said.
VanDyke has been stopping at the schools and other places to introduce himself. “Everyone’s been friendly,” he remarked.
And, while VanDyke doesn’t want to make his work personal, he has a heart for the people in Cedar Springs. “I’m just glad to have the opportunity to do something positive for the community,” he said.