GVPD adds two new officers to ranks


Courtesy / Kendra Stanley-Mills

Zoë Murphy, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University Police Department has recently added two new officers to their squad: Tom Burns and Marco Rojas-Garcia.

GVPD works to ensure students, staff, visitors and faculty feel safe on campus by being prepared to handle a multitude of situations. The new officers will go through a training process to become familiar with GVPD procedures.

Hiring police officers for GVPD starts similarly to hiring for most job positions.

“Whenever we have an opening, we advertise just like any other business would to fill those spots,” said Khourosh Khatir, assistant director of public safety and captain of GVPD. “The other way we might use hiring is if we grow our department and the university authorizes us to go from, for example, 20 to 23, then that creates three new spots.”

Candidates with police academy experience are more likely to be considered for GVPD positions.  

Burns and Rojas-Garcia each have different kinds of experiences and training. Khatir said Burns was an officer with the Grand Rapids Police Department and decided to leave GRPD to join GVPD. Rojas-Garcia’s path to GVPD was a little different. 

“Rojas-Garcia has never been a police officer,” Khatir said. “He worked as security for the Grand Rapids Public Schools system, and he put himself through the Police Academy and this is his first police job.”

Now that the two new officers are part of the GVSU police force, they must go through a series of introductory measures.  

“They will be given a field training program, which is a very intensive program,” said GVPD Chief of Police, Brandon Dehaan. “They will be evaluated every single day by one of our field training officers on a number of different facets to ensure that they meet the standards of the department here to get to meet the standards of our community.”  

After they’ve completed the essential training and introductory measures, the officers can serve the GVSU community.  

GVPD has similar responsibilities to other police departments. However, there are some differences between the approaches of police forces on college campuses compared to cities. 

“We have an education mindset, we’re partially focused on student success,” Khatir said. “When somebody breaks the law, they break the law, we deal with that. But our focus is slightly geared toward that student population, which is a little bit different than if you’re dealing with a Grand Rapids police officer.”