Editorial

Reasons for Chief Garnsey’s departure clarified in letter

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a clarification from attorney Rob Howard of Bos & Glazier, PLC of Grand Rapids, regarding Wayland Police Chief Mark Garnsey’s departure late last month.

Mark Garnsey

To the editor:

Chief Garnsey began discussing retirement with the city in March of this year. He has been exploring his options outside of law enforcement for quite some time. Concerns with the approval of community policing projects and understaffing were some issues that prompted his decision.

The chief also has ailing parents on both sides. His new opportunity, although full time, will be about 20-30 hours less per week than the time required as Chief of Police.  He registered for training in April, and completed the three-week course in June in order to prepare for his new position.

Additionally, any accusation that he was terminated for cause or performance from his former jobs in law enforcement is false.

Garnsey was informed of an investigation into possible “policy violations” about six months ago. The investigation was scheduled to be completed April 4, 2022, according to documents from the city. The city has never interviewed Garnsey despite his repeated requests for an interview. Garnsey delayed his originally planned resignation in July, specifically to be interviewed in this matter and address any concerns. The city even provided Garnsey with a favorable annual review in August 2022, as well as a raise, including retroactive pay, effective Aug. 11.

If there were serious concerns, would the city have let the chief of police continue to work for the last six months? Normally when there are concerns about a public official, the subject of the investigation is put on administrative leave. Garnsey was never put on leave and worked until the day before his resignation was effective.

The chief had provided the city with 60 days notice, but when the health needs of his family required immediate attention, that conflicted with another request from the city, Chief Garnsey made his resignation effective immediately. The chief felt he had discussed resignation/retirement on several occasions, and he believed that the city had adequate notice.  It was not due to any delay on the chief’s part that a 30-day investigation turned into more than six months, with still no indication of what policy issue is in question.  

Contrary to the anonymous sources in your article, no weapons have been taken from the chief. The changing of locks is a routine operation done to protect not only the city, but also the departing employee from any claims of unlawful access. Garnsey has returned his city property and cooperated with all city requests. The city has cooperated with all of his requests as well.

The politics of public safety can be troubling at times. Often there is a rumor mill and a gossip gang that operates for their own purposes and not for the truth. Just like every driver will eventually commit a traffic infraction, the truth is that no employee of the city would have a perfect record of following all policies and procedures if investigated for six months. The integrity of the investigation is likely compromised by the leaks from anonymous sources to other potential witnesses.

Garnsey values the time he spent serving the citizens of Wayland and is confident that there are no facts that will harm his reputation.

— Robert Howard, Bos & Glazier, PLC, 990 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids

2 Comments

  • This is very interesting. How ironic a investigation of a policy matter has been on going and the person and their legal counsel have no idea what policy has been violated.
    I disagree with the lawyer. Unless the City of Wayland does not provide a service firearm to their officers and requires them to purchase their own personal firearms. The chief most certainly surrendered the city owned firearms at the time of leaving office.
    I also dispute the statement of why the locks were changed. There are and have been numerous persons in this same situation and municipalities and businesses do not incur the cost of changing locks unless there is some great concern.
    As the old saying goes ” it will all come out in the wash”.

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