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1:02 AM Tue, Dec. 11th

New police chief tours city, department

A police captain from Michigan is in Kingman meeting fellow officers and community leaders in the city where he soon will be chief.

Robert DeVries officially takes over as police chief June 9.

DeVries, who has worked for the Holland, Mich.

Police Department, said he plans to move to Kingman the week before replacing Larry Butler, who retires June 6.

DeVries sees his first six months to a year on the job as a learning curve.

He also plans to continue the community policing programs built by Butler.

"I'm not looking to replace him (Butler) but to build on a solid foundation," DeVries said.

"I'm not looking at this job as a stepping stone.

I'm not looking to retire anytime soon."

DeVries sees the school resource officer program as a vital part in bridging the gap between young people and police in dealing with drugs and gangs.

He also wants to continue the problem-solving triad of citizens, law enforcement and government leaders.

The new chief said he expects comments and opinions about the department from churches and social service organizations as well as residents.

DeVries, one of six finalists picked from 54 applicants, was chosen April 21.

He said he was impressed with the intensive interviewing process that involved businesses, schools, the City Council and other city departments.

He said he expects to work closely with the city's fire, finance, public works and other departments.

"I'm a big one for teamwork," DeVries said.

"Where everyone will roll up their sleeves and get to work."

With a population of about 35,000 in a metropolitan area of about 100,000, Holland has crime problems similar and different from Kingman.

With a more rural county just to the south of Holland, DeVries' former police department faces a methamphetamine problem similar to Kingman's.

However, Holland has more of a gang problem with murders, stabbings and fire bombings.

DeVries said the cities have similar property crime and traffic problems.

DeVries, who grew up in Holland, spent 26 years with the police department.

He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and public administration at Grand Valley State University.

He is working on a master's degree in public administration.

As public information officer with the Holland Police Department, DeVries enjoyed talking with counterparts across the nation about crimes such as the Laci Peterson murder or the Virginia sniper shootings.

DeVries, 45, will receive an annual salary of $71,500 as police chief.

His wife, Laurie, their sons, Michael, 18, and Aaron, 16, plan to move to Kingman in the coming weeks.

DeVries is familiar with the area because his parents usually spend their winters in Lake Havasu City.

A history buff, DeVries likes to travel, collect antiques, hunt and fish.

Butler retired from the Kingman Police Department as a captain in 1993 and went to work with the county attorney's office as an investigator.

A year later he was elected to the City Council.

Then-Kingman City Manager Lou Sorensen asked Butler to take over as chief from retiring Carroll Brown.

The department has about 48 patrol officers, detectives, school resource officers, motorcycle officers, bomb squad technicians and bicycle officers.