By ROBERT ANKRAPP
For the Times-Herald
HEIGHTS – The Police Department added two executive staff members Jan. 9. The officers, both long-time veterans of the law enforcement community, already have begun their new roles.
Reporting directly to Police Chief Jerrod Hart, they will play an role in helping guide the strategic, operational, and human resources and performance aspects of the department.
Paul Vanderplow will serve as the department’s new director of Support Services. A 28-year law enforcement veteran, Vanderplow most recently served as special agent in charge of the Detroit Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Prior to his Detroit field position, he served with the Detroit District of the Internal Revenue Service — Criminal Investigation Division, where he began his law enforcement career in 1995. Since then, he has held numerous investigative, command and administrative posts that took him to several cities throughout the United States investigations, strategic planning policy and procedure development.
Vanderplow holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting from Arizona State University, and completed the Executive Management Program at Northwestern University. He also holds the distinction of Eagle Scout, and serves as chairman of the National Law Enforcement Exploring Program.
Kevin Swope will serve as the department’s new director of Police Operations. Swope, a 25-year law enforcement veteran, began his career as a police officer with the Detroit Police Department. Following a five-year stint in Detroit, he joined the Westland Police Department, and has served there since.
During his 19 years with the Westland PD, Swope served in numerous leadership, command and management positions, relating to the areas of Patrol, Investigation, Professional Standards, Training, Investigations, Traffic and Accident Investigations, General Administrative, Internal Investigations, and School Relations – as well as serving as a negotiator for the Western Wayne County Crisis Team, and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
Swope is a 2017 graduate of the Eastern Michigan University Police Staff and Command program, as well as a 2022 graduate of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Police Executives’ and New Chiefs’ School.
“The addition of directors Vanderplow and Swope will accelerate the changes we are undergoing to develop a world class, community focused, data driven police department,” Hart said. “Our partners at the U.S. Department of Justice – Community Oriented Policing Services and the Collaborative Reform Initiative – Technical Assistance Center assessed our agency in September 2022 and identified six areas of improvement we will focus on – which the DOJ will support with fund: Leadership Development, Peer to Peer, Fair & Impartial Policing, Recruitment, Selection & Retention, Community Engagement and Policy Review.
“These areas of focus represent a significant level of change which can be uncomfortable and unsettling for the status quo. I’m confident however, that directors Vanderplow and Swope are fully capable of leading this change in management, team building and, most importantly, developing a culture of support and value for all employees as we enhance the services we provide to our residents, our business owners and those who visit our community.
“Credit for much of this initiative goes to our former police commissioner, Dr. Joseph E. Thomas Jr., who passed away last October. Dr. Thomas was an experienced leader in change management and leadership theory, and an exceptional colleague who is missed dearly.”
Mayor Bill Bazzi also expressed his pleasure with the new hires.
“I am delighted that directors Vanderplow and Swope are joining us,” he said. “Together, they bring a wealth of experience and insight that, under the leadership of Chief Hart, will help transform our police department to a true world-class organization that will serve with excellence and professionalism – and will grow into a source of pride for our community and its residents.”