“There aren’t many jobs were you have to wear a bulletproof vest everyday,” said Brandon Boelema. He believes those in law enforcement choose that career because they love it.
Monday, December 1, was Boelema’s first day as officer with the Rockford Police Department. Boelema is a 2003 graduate of Northview High School, a 2007 graduate of Grand Valley State University with a bachelor in criminal justice. He is also a graduate of the university’s 16-week police academy. Prior to joining Rockford Police he was an officer with the Bloomfield Township Police Department for two years.
“I’m very excited,” said Boelema of his new position. “I’m happy to be back and be around my friends and family and patrol where they live and work.” The new officer said police work is interesting because every day is different. His first day at work was when the department arrested 15 teenagers on various charges.
Boelema is a second-generation law enforcement officer in his family. His father retired from the Kent County Sheriff Department the year Boelma graduated. He highly recommends the career to others. “Everyone in law enforcement loves their job or they would get out of it and do something else,” he said. “I get paid to have fun.”
Rockford’s Police Chief Dave Jones described Boelema as the strongest candidate he has ever seen. “He served an internship with us while he was in college,” Jones said. “He very quickly integrated himself in the special events we participate in here in Rockford, Youth Night, the Trialthlon, the Expo. He was McGruff the Crime Dog at the Expo.” Jones said all of the officers in the department thought very highly of Boelema. “We didn’t have an opening for him when he graduated.”
When Rick Rafferty left the force, Jones said he thought of Boelema. “I hadn’t forgotten him, you keep talented people in mind.” Jones said the department where Boelema was employed is very like Rockford in their philosophy of community policing. That and Boelema’s strong ties to the community, through his internship and because his family lives here, made the decision a clear one. “He is very articulate, very bright, able to clearly express those shared values.”
Rockford has ten full-time police officers and three part time officers. Boelema replaces Officer Rick Rafferty, who took a job with the state of Michigan. “There are no nights or weekends, so that was good for him,” said supervisor Lt. Scott Mazur.
The job can be a dangerous one, Boelema admitted. At his previous department, a routine traffic stop gave him one of those heart-thumping experiences most people would associate with the job.
“I walked up and looked in the car and the guy had a nine millimeter gun at his feet,” Boelema recalled. “It turns out he had six different felony counts.” Boelema said the danger of the job doesn’t worry him. “We are trained to deal with it,” he said.