This summer marks the end of an era at the Seidman Center as longtime GRPD officer Michael Harris is retiring after 25 years of service. Harris, a fixture at the Boys and Girls Club, was one of three officers from the community engagement unit of the GRPD assigned to the organization.
For Officer Harris, this role was all about relationships- with fellow officers, with community partners, but most importantly, with the kids.
Reflecting on his years of service, Officer Harris emphasizes the role Officer Percy Brown, his mentor and predecessor at the Seidman Center.
“Before I came on as the Officer at the Seidman Center, I used to volunteer as a coach in the building. It was Officer Percy Brown who convinced me to come on the community engagement team and work with the young people at the Boys & Girls Clubs in an official capacity.”
It was this pivotal moment that determined the course of his career with the GRPD, a moment that Officer Harris describes as a “work of God.”
“Building relationships between police departments and communities is so important,” Harris remarked. “I think I had so much success in this role because I can relate so well to these kids. When I see these kids at the club, it’s like looking in a mirror.” Harris went on to describe his upbringing in Grand Rapids and his deep conviction to give back to his community.
His decision to give back to our community’s young people was of immense consequence.
His long and successful career is a testament to the impact that meaningful partnerships between police departments and the community can have in the lives of young people. Throughout the years, Officer Harris designed innovative programs, mentored hundreds of children and leveraged his deep roots in the community to enrich the lives of our members.
Officer Harris’ sports programs instilled character values that continue to reverberate throughout the community. His programs promoted discipline, academic excellence and were committed to helping our members become well rounded individuals.
“We put teams together for both boys and girls of all ages. We got the kids national exposure, and many of them took their careers to the next level,” Mike said about the sports programs he led at the club.
Beyond the sports programs, Officer Harris made it his mission to build relationships between young people and the Grand Rapids Police Department through the creation of programs like Pathways to Policing. This program and others like it give the kids hands on training in police work and exposed them to the daily life of a police officer.
“It’s critical that kids understand that cops are just people out there trying to do the right thing and vice versa.” Harris said.
While we are grateful for Officer Harris’ service to the Boys and Girls Clubs and our continuing relationship with the Grand Rapids Police Department, we are thrilled about Officer Harris’ new role in the organization. Officer Harris has agreed to come on as a part time youth development professional where he’ll continue the critical work he’s been doing for so long. And with Officer Harris departing his official role with the Grand Rapids Police Department, we are excited to build on the legacies of Officers Harris and Brown with the new officer that the GRPD assigns to the Seidman Center.
With the continued support of the GRPD, we will work together to build enduring relationships and sustainable programs between the police and our community.
Best wishes to Officer Harris!
Photos by: Kymara Stevenson