FLINT TWP. — Matthew VanLente of West Bloomfield is the newest entry level officer for the Flint Township Police Department, following unanimous approval of his hiring last week by the township board.
VanLente was to be sworn in the following morning to meet scheduling issues, said Police Chief George Sippert. He holds an associates degree in law enforcement from Macomb Community College and is a graduate of the Macomb Police Academy. He was most recently employed as a paramedic for Alliance Mobile Health.
Sippert said VanLente’s law enforcement license had expired because he graduated from the police academy more than a year ago. But at this own expense, taking time off his job, VanLente successfully reactivated his license by completing a MIchigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards prior training and experience program. He also passed all other pre-employment tests and was the candidate nominated by the Civil Service Commission, Sippert said.
VanLente’s out-of-county residency reignited previous concerns of some board trustees about officer retention. VanLente was hired to replace Steven Reed, who resigned in April after one year of service.
Trustee George Menoutes asked if VanLente planned to move closer to Flint Township.
“I have a problem with that. You can’tbeaapoliceofficerhereand live 60 miles away,’’ Menoutes said, repeating concerns expressed when Reed resigned. “We’re going to train him and he is going to move a year later. We train these fellows, we go through all these motions and then a year a half later they go somewhere else.”
Sippert agreed that a residency requirement might help retention but said he could not legally require VanLente to move closer to the township.
But VanLente has indicated interest in doing so, he said.
A discussion followed about taking measures to legally implement residency requirements through contract negotiations.
“We have no recourse at this time,’’ said township supervisor Karyn Miller about imposing residency requirements.
Menoutes also asked if applicants who live closer to Flint had sought the job.
Sippert said that applications come from all over the state because of internet advertising but ultimately the best candidate is nominated from a Civil Service Commission list. He said VanLente is an excellent candidate who will do a fantastic job while he is here.
Sippert also said the residency and retention issue will be a continuing struggle as the department will need to fill openings created by retirements in the next two months. The department is budgeted for 35 officers.