GRPD Sergeant Running For Seat Held By Embattled Commissioner

JaniskeeGRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  — A sergeant in the Grand Rapids Police Department has announced his plans to run for the seat now held by embattled Kent County Commissioner Gary Rolls.

Rolls has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman from the age of nine into her 20′s.

As the criminal case plays out in court, GRPD Sgt. Matthew Janiskee says he will be working to win that seat, beginning with the Republican primary in August 2014.

“I will be there at the meetings, and I will serve with integrity,” said Janiskee, a Republican from Cannon Township.

Janiskee said he has been with the Grand Rapids Police Department for 22 years.

He feels there has been a void of representation and leadership for the 4th District since allegations of sexual assault surfaced against Rolls.

“For the past year, year and a half, I don’t think the 4th District — Cannon township, the City of Lowell, Vergennes, Grattan, Oakfield — has had trustworthy representation,” said Janiskee. “I plan to change that.”

Rolls was arrested right after he left a commission meeting on Thursday, Nov. 21. He is facing four counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct, potential life offenses if he is convicted.

Rolls also faces charges of evidence tampering and using a computer to commit a crime, which are 10-year felonies.

A woman has accused Rolls of sexually abusing her at his home when she was younger, and again when she was a teen on trips he took with her.

The alleged victim said Rolls’ wife became suspicious at one point. “When we went to Florida, there were two plane tickets put on one card,” she said.

Court testimony from the woman even claimed Rolls used a credit card in her name to pay for things like motel rooms. She told the courts that it was because “he had gone bankrupt and didn’t have any credit cards.”

If voters are dissatisfied in the short term, the Kent County Administrator said Rolls cannot be removed from his seat by fellow commissioners. There would have to be a public recall, or Rolls would have to resign or refuse to run again after his term, or he would have to be voted out in the general election in 2014.

Janiskee said he began working on the campaign for the Republican primary six months ago, so he’s ready to win Republican vote in August.

“I always wanted to get involved in the policy side.  You know, being a police officer I’ve served for 22 years now.”

He said he can continue his work with the Grand Rapids Police Department while continuing to serve as a commissioner. He also made a pledge to attend as many meetings as possible if elected. “My job is flexible enough where I can attend every meeting and every function,” said Janiskee. “I will be there every meeting if humanly possible. I’m not going to say I will be at 100 percent of the meetings, that would be impossible to predict. But I will be there. I’m looking forward to serving.”

County clerk records indicate Rolls has missed as many as seven meetings since his legal troubles began in late 2012 and early 2013. That included September 27, 2012, October 25, 2012, November 8, 2012, November 29, 2012, December 13, 2012, January 3, 2013.

Rolls also missed a meeting November, 28, 2013, after he was arrested and then released on bond.

In addition to creating a better attendance record as part of his platform, Janiskee said that his public safety experience would be of value on the commission. “The community here in Kent County is very lucky to have a sheriff department and fire protection that we do have. They are some of the best in the Midwest. What I will advocate is, are we doing enough? Does sheriff Stelma have enough?  Do the Deputies have enough to do what they’re doing? And, ten years from now, things are changing, I will bring that experience to the table with law enforcement and public safety.”

Janiskee made other promises:

  • Lead efforts for a balanced budget.
  • Protect the county’s strong credit and AAA bond rating.
  • Get government out of the way to allow businesses to grow and hire more employees.
  • Prioritize public safety spending to keep our streets and residents safe.

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