Office of the Chief

Kentwood Police



Kentwood, Michigan, Oct. 7, 2019 – After a distinguished law enforcement career spanning more than four decades, Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen announced his retirement, effective Nov. 1.

Hillen began his 10-plus years of service to the City of Kentwood in 2009 after serving 32 years with the Kent County Sheriff's Office. During his tenure with the Kentwood Police Department, Hillen has led a team of nearly 95 personnel, including 70 sworn police officers, to serve and protect the community with excellence, focusing on reducing serious crime and increasing traffic safety.

“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.”
During his tenure in Kentwood, Hillen instituted innovative programs to address key issues in the community, such as the department’s Data-Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety, or DDACTS, program, 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.

“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.”

In addition to his work with the department, Hillen has served in numerous leadership roles for the profession. He has served as president of the Kent County Chiefs of Police, chairman of Kent County’s Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Team and has been on the advisory boards for the police academies at Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Kent Career Technical Center.
He is also a member of the Law Enforcement Action Forum, also known as LEAF, assisting with the development of law enforcement model policies and related materials. Over the years, LEAF has grown to be a valuable resource for the Michigan Municipal League and other agencies in the state when addressing law enforcement public policy issues.

This has been an exciting year for the Police Department.   I continued to be impressed with the outstanding work the men and women of the Kentwood Police Department have accomplished.  D.D.A.C.T.S. (Data Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety) continues to be our operational model and has been key to the property crime reduction the City has experienced.  That doesn’t happen by accident and the key to that success has been the devotion of officers working assignments in our target areas.  Every six months, each Division in the Department develops their own set of goals to help in the crime reduction effort.  In addition to that, our community outreach through new initiatives like our Facebook video series, “If you see something say something”, and our “Footloose” lip sync video have received outstanding reviews from the community.  We will continue to explore new innovative ways and ideas to reach and improve the community we serve.

This year, the Police Department celebrated its 50th year as a law enforcement agency.  We started the year by redesigning our patch on our uniform to better represent who we as a Department.  We are proud of our years of dedicated service and our excited about what the future brings.  We also implemented an anniversary commemorative badge that officers could wear during the year.  The celebration was capped off by a presentation from the Detroit Tigers acknowledging our 50 years of service to the community.

We were, once again, blessed this year by the many acts of kindness by our community.  From the various groups that held appreciation lunches and treats, to the support groups that offered banners and personal notes, our community has embraced the officers who serve them. We are part of an amazing diverse city.  I am fortunate to have such a dedicated staff, including officers, civilian support team and community volunteers.  They are the backbone of the organization and are committed to excellence.