Sheriff's Office

Emergency Management & Homeland Security

The Emergency Management Division is charged with planning for and responding to emergencies or disasters that could occur in the county. All cities and communities in the County are part of the Kent County Emergency Management Program. The Emergency Management Office is responsible for maintaining and updating the Kent County Emergency Action Guidelines, which has now included the requirements of the National Response Plan and National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Homeland Security Initiatives

Structure and Projects

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has identified a number of national priorities to strengthen the preparedness of the United States to prevent and respond to threatened or actual domestic terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies, including Expanding Regional Collaboration. Major events have a regional impact; therefore, the benefit of regionalization will be most evident at the community level, when a community as a whole, can prepare for and provide an integrated response to an incident. Kent County is in region 6, which extends from our county's southern border to Lake County to the north, the counties immediately adjacent to US 131 east, and Lake Michigan to the west.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified projects for funding which will enhance the overall level of preparedness across the state. These projects are:

  • Regional governance structure
  • Regional Response Plan
  • Critical infrastructure protection and cyber security
  • Interoperable communications plan
  • Regional response teams
  • Equipment and technology planning and purchases
  • Resource inventory
  • Emergency notification
  • Citizen preparedness
  • Mutual aid

Our region has been working diligently on these preparedness goals and have taken great strides in meeting them.

The Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security continue to develop, coordinate, and evaluate our community response capabilities. The task of assessing local hazards and our capabilities to respond to the needs to our community have never been greater. DHS grants have allowed us to provide additional equipment and training to our response agencies. Recent projects specifically benefiting Kent County include:

  • Developing and enhancing interoperable communications
  • Enhancing Bomb Squad capability
  • Training and exercising response capabilities
  • Critical infrastructure protection
  • Emergency Operating Center enhancements
  • Providing Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) equipment to responders
  • Developing a pharmaceutical stockpile and distribution network
  • Integrating National Incident Management System (NIMS) training for all response disciplines
  • Citizen emergency training and preparedness programs


Planning is a key component toward the success of local and regional initiatives that help in the prevention, protection, response and recovery from emergencies and disasters. The collection and analysis of intelligence and information is needed for the development of policies, plans, procedures, mutual aid agreements, strategies, and other programs that improve the capabilities of our public and private response organizations. These plans must also comply with relevant laws and regulations, and receive collaborative support from the agencies and disciplines affected.

The dynamics of planning are necessary for all of the Homeland Security projects listed above. As we proceed as a 13-county regional collaboration, we will have the benefits of expanded response resources and talents. A Regional Response Plan is being developed that encompasses the following counties:

Clare Isabella Ionia Kent Ottawa
Muskegon Mecosta Lake Newaygo Mason
Oceana Osceola Montcalm    

Working with our neighbors will mutually enhance our abilities to protect and respond to emergencies in our areas.

FEMA Initiatives


As condition for receiving federal hazard mitigation funding, local jurisdictions must have a FEMA approved hazard mitigation plan. The plan identifies risks, vulnerabilities, and mitigative efforts to deal with hazards present in the communities involved. The Greater Grand Rapids Hazard Mitigation Plan (GGRHMP) is a joint effort between Kent County, Ottawa County, and the City of Grand Rapids. Public meetings were also held to receive input from the local communities involved. The plan is dedicated to improve the health and safety of the citizens of the Greater Grand Rapids Area. The original plan was approved in 2006 and revisions were approved by FEMA in 2012 and 2017.

Listed below are the top five natural hazards and the top five infrastructure and human induced hazards.


  • Severe Winter Weather (Temperature, Snow, Ice, Blizzard)
  • Thunderstorm (Hail, Lightning, Wind)
  • Tornado
  • Riverine Flooding
  • Urban Flooding

Infrastructure and Human-Induced

  • Electrical Failure
  • Communications Failure
  • Intentional Acts (Terrorism, Crime, Civil Disturbance)
  • Transportation Accidents
  • Hazardous Materials Release (Storage Sites, Highways, Rail Lines)

In order to receive mitigation funding jurisdictions must pass a resolution adopting the GGRHMP. The County of Kent has passed the resolution adopting the GGRHMP.

Disaster Reimbursement and Mitigation

The Office of Emergency Management is responsible for coordinating reimbursements related to declared disasters; the most recent being the flooding in the spring of 2013.

Local Initiatives

Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)

  • The Kent County LEPC continues to be a leader within the State of Michigan for the development of SARA Title III emergency response site plans. These plans are developed for facilities in our community which have Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS).
  • The LEPC has 21 members representing the following categories: Health/Environment, Fire/HazMat, Education, Agriculture, Hospitals, Transportation, News Media, Industry, Human Services, First Aid, Community Groups, Public Officials, Law Enforcement and Emergency Management.
  • Kent County is one of five jurisdictions within the State that have developed emergency response site plans for all of the identified Extremely Hazardous Chemical sites within our community.
  • The Public Information subcommittee develops brochures including How to Respond to A Chemical Emergency and Hazardous Materials in your Community, Your Right to Know. They also have two videos available which detail how to shelter in place. Members of the LEPC are available to go out and give presentations.
  • The Kent County LEPC exercises one of their plans each year.
  • LEPC in conjunction with the Emergency Management Office has formed the Kent County Food Protection and Security Committee. This committee meets to discuss agriculture and food security issues, and exercises food protection plans. Federal, State, and Local agencies and authorities are represented on this committee.
  • In 2006 the Kent County LEPC also became the Citizen Corp Council. In 2007 the Grand Rapids LEPC also became part of the Council. This groups oversees the Medical Reserve Corp (MRC), Fire Corp, Citizen Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Neighborhood Watch, and Volunteers in Policing (VIP) programs. The Kent County LEPC remains active in those committees.
  • 15 Steps to Take if There is a Chemical Emergency

Emergency Operations Center

  • The Kent County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is located at the Kent County Sheriff Department. The EOC is the coordination center of disaster and emergency response. There are 11 basic response disciplines in the EOC, however we have expanded those annexes to include personnel and agencies needed for specific response capabilities.
  • A new statewide EOC communications system called WebEOC, has recently been placed into use. This system is more efficient and allows for a more efficient response communication than the previous management system. Training on this new system has begun for EOC annex representatives and scribes.
  • Homeland Security grant funds have allowed Kent County to expand narrowband communication capabilities through equipment purchases and programming.
  • Use of the Everbridge communication system allows us to send phone, text, or email messages to key employees, organizations, or special teams. This system also allows us to send Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).


The State of Michigan has designated Emergency Management to be the coordination point for all school drills and exercises.

Our office is currently in the process of coordinating emergency response plans with our schools. Part of this planning involves vulnerability assessments on buildings, as well as student behavior related Threat and Violence Assessments (TVAT).

The Emergency Management office is also involved in a local safe schools project to develop a standard for school preparedness planning, exercising, and documentation of incidents and drills. This project is a coordinated effort between local law enforcement agencies, and local school districts


M.A.B.A.S. (Mutual Aid Box Alarm Systems) is the standardization of response and the predetermination of Fire resources in effort to effectively and efficiently mitigate the effects of an emergent incident.

In June of 2012, the M.A.B.A.S.-MI Executive Board approved the Division 3603 application for Kent County area fire departments to become a M.A.B.A.S Division. The initial Division was comprised of 6 area fire departments including Plainfield, Algoma, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Grattan, and Wyoming. Stacy Madden began to facilitate communication among Kent Co fire departments and as a result 7 new fire departments have joined the Division since August 2012. The new departments include: Cascade, Caledonia, Cannon, Kent City, Sparta, Alpine, and Rockford.

Division 3603 in collaboration with Kent County EMD has successfully created Policies and Procedures and Inter Divisional Box Alarm Cards, 2-Taskforces, 2-Engine Strike Teams, and 2-Tender Strike Teams. These Taskforces and Strike Teams are trained and prepared to respond within Kent County, Region 6 and the State of Michigan.

Public Education

Public education has always been a critical part of Emergency Management / Homeland Security. Our office provides citizens and community groups with a wide variety of presentations. The most common are:

  • Community Emergency Response Training (CERT)
  • Citizen and family preparedness
  • Incident Management and NIMS
  • LEPC/Hazardous Materials Overview
  • Severe Weather
  • School Violence / Threat Assessment
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Emergency Management and Homeland Security

Hydroelectric Dams

There are 14 dams in Kent County. Eight of them are considered significant to high risk. The Emergency Management Office has emergency action plans for these dams. These plans are updated on a regular basis and exercises are held in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to test the plans.

GET READY! Kent County Citizen Preparedness Program

Disasters happen anytime and anywhere. When disaster strikes, it is easier to cope when you are prepared. Being prepared for potential emergencies in Western Michigan means addressing all of the steps noted in the program's twelve month preparedness calendar. Acting on one step each month is an easy way to accomplish this goal! What this program is all about:

  • Twelve month citizen preparedness program
  • New topic on preparedness each month
  • Monthly fact sheets provide informational details and suggested action steps
  • Easy to understand and adjustable for any budget
  • Spanish-translated materials available on our GET READY! Kent County Program website.
  • An excellent program for children and adults about weather, first aid, power outages, sheltering and evacuation, and staying safe in emergencies.

Related Links

Matt Groesser
Office (616) 632-6255