City Manager Joe Bippus announced Friday that Ronald “Scott” Boling will be the next Three Rivers Police Chief, succeeding longtime Police Chief Tom Bringman who retired in November. Boling most recently served as police chief of the Schoolcraft Police Department where Bippus has previously been employed as a patrol officer in addition to his duties as city manager. It is unclear whether Bippus still serves in any capacity with the Schoolcraft PD.
Bippus has made a conditional offer of employment to Boling, which is contingent upon approval from the Three Rivers City Commission at its next meeting on Tuesday, December 7. Boling is a Marine Corps veteran with 25 years of law enforcement experience and 22 years of firefighter and medical first responder experience. He spent the majority of his career with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety before retiring in 2020, and taking the position of Village of Schoolcraft police chief.
“I believe that Scott Boling will lead Three Rivers’ Police Department into a brighter future,” Bippus said in a press release Friday. “I want to thank all those involved in this process for sharing their time and perspectives. Boling has an impressive resume and has proven he can build community relationships and continue to build confidence in the Three Rivers Police Department through improved transparency and police policies and practices. He is sensitive to the needs of our community and the modern-day challenges of the profession.”
Bippus added that there “were several exceptional candidates for this position, and we would like to thank each of them that stepped forward to apply and participate in the interview selection process.” Watershed Voice learned that at least two local candidates were considered for the position, with Three Rivers Det. Sgt. Sam Smallcombe and St. Joseph County Det. Sgt. Chad Spence both receiving interviews.
Interviews were conducted by a panel consisting of St. Joseph County Administrator Teresa Doehring, Three Rivers Public School Board President Erin Nowak, Three Rivers Library Board Vice President Mike Fleckenstein, and City of Three Rivers department managers. No city commissioner served on the panel.
Bippus began part-time work with the Schoolcraft Police Department in November 2018, regularly working in excess of 10 hours per week without notifying the city commission, which at the time was a violation of his contract. He eventually notified the commission of his employment in Schoolcraft in March 2019, after working an average of 30 hours per week in Schoolcraft between January and March of that year. Bippus previously told the press and Mayor Tom Lowry that he rarely exceeded 16 hours per week, working shifts mainly on the weekends. After months of discussion on the matter, Bippus faced no disciplinary action, and the situation was considered resolved.
Alek Haak-Frost is executive editor of Watershed Voice.