Prolific former GRPD Chief William Hegarty dies

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who served as Grand Rapids police chief for 15 years in the 80s and 90s has died.

William Hegarty died Saturday morning, several days after a fall in his home caused a bleed on his brain. He was 81.

Hegarty served as police chief in Grand Rapids from 1982 to 1997, according to an online biography for a Grand Valley State University scholarship in his name. 

He served as an adjunct professor in the university’s school of criminal justice during most of his tenure as chief.

Hegarty was known as a no-nonsense chief among the rank and file, unafraid to speak his mind. He is credited with having a hand in developing several of the department’s leaders who remain a part of the force today.

“What he brought to the department has impacted the department in many ways and will continue to impact the department for many more years,” former GRPD officer Larry Johnson wrote in a commentary for the Grand Rapids Times published in 2018.

Johnson now serves the Grand Rapids Public Schools as assistant superintendent, chief of staff and executive director of public safety and school security.

Hegarty’s wife, Terri, also worked in Grand Rapids city government. She served over a decade as Grand Rapids City Clerk.

Funeral arrangements for Hegarty have not yet been announced.