After a distinguished law enforcement career spanning more than four decades, Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen has announced his plans for retirement Monday. 

Hillen's retirement is effective Nov. 1. He spent more than 10 years serving the City of Kentwood after working with the Kent County Sheriff's Office for 32 years. 

During his tenure with the Kentwood Police Department, Hillen has led a team of nearly 95 personnel, including 70 sworn police officers. He instituted programs to address key issues in the community, such as the department’s Data-Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety, or DDACTS, Operation PRICE to reduce retail theft, leadership development for supervisory staff and school resource officers for area middle schools. 

He also placed an officer on the FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force and appointed the first female captain in the department’s history. 

“Chief Hillen has been an invaluable asset to our community for more than a decade,” said Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley. “His effective leadership and dedication to the City have been demonstrated by the department’s accomplishments. Today, Kentwood’s violent crime and property crime is at a five-year low under his leadership. For that and so much more, we are truly grateful for his service. 

“While we are sad to see him go, we wish him the best as he moves into retirement and thank him for his service throughout the years.”

“I have been fortunate to have had two great law enforcement careers, both at the Sheriff’s Office and here at the City,” Hillen said. “It has been a pure joy to spend these past 10 years with the Kentwood Police Department and I will greatly miss the family atmosphere.

“I’m humbled by the department’s achievements and feel grateful to have had the opportunity to work here and serve alongside the team. The officers care for the community, and the community cares for the officers.  That is what makes it special to be an officer in the City of Kentwood; it’s just different here.

“Our success is attributed to our combined efforts, and I can proudly say this has been the perfect capstone experience of a profession I have loved.”

Mayor Kepley intends to appoint Deputy Chief Richard Roberts to fill the police chief position. City Commission will be asked to confirm the appointment.

Hillen and his wife, Sueann, plan to spend the winter in Florida and see where life takes them next.   

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