GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Matt and Mark Ostapowicz have been with the Grand Rapids Police Department since the 1990s and everything they’ve done in the department led up to the afternoon of Sept. 22. Inside the department’s downtown headquarters, ten officers were promoted as their friends and families looked on.
Mark was one of them, and after an emotional speech, he embraced his brother. At that moment, Matt and Mark became the first brothers in department history to achieve the rank of captain at the same time.
“I’m toward the end of my career and to have this happen towards the end of it, I’m very thankful, very happy, very excited for the new role,” Mark said.
Matt and Mark are not the only ones in their family to achieve that rank. Their father Dan served in the department for 32 years before eventually retiring as deputy chief.
All three of the Ostapowicz men had the chance to serve together when Matt was sworn into the department in 1995. Mark had previously joined in 1992.
"It was a great career for me, and I knew it would be a great career for them," Dan said. "It was an extraordinarily proud moment for me. What could be better?"
"When Dan was working there and they were both there, there wasn't a day that went by when they didn't stop by his office just to say hi," said Dan's wife Nancy.
"How lucky is that that a dad can have his sons right there?"
Working with their father didn't come without its challenges, though. Matt and Mark say people treated them differently because of their relation to such a respected leader on the force.
“Everybody says oh your dad was there, so it was easy for you,” Matt said. “Actually I think it was difficult for us because we had big shoes to fill. He always told us even before we were cops, if you go out and screw up, it’s a reflection on me too.”
So what does a police captain do? The answer varies by department, but in Grand Rapids, each captain is responsible for part of the city, which has been divided into five service areas.
The captains help maintain relationships between the department and their communities. They also oversee supervisors in their service areas and assist the chief. Matt oversees the West Side Service Area while Mark is in charge of the South Service Area.
"Basically everything that happens there is on me. Good and bad," Mark said.
If you’d like to find out which captain oversees your neighborhood, or contact them, you can do so on the city’s website.
To hear more of the family's story, listen to this video:
More GRPD stories on 13 ON YOUR SIDE:
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.