Grand Haven welcomes first female security chief

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Grand Haven has a new director of public safety; she is the first woman to receive the promotion.

Nicole Hudson has 21 years of experience protecting Grand Haven.

“It means a lot. It just shows that hard work, dedication and commitment to the people in the community and the department has finally paid off after 21 years,” added Hudson, director of Grand Haven Public Safety.

The new community safety chief started as a patrol cadet when she was 19. During her years in the city, she climbed the ranks.

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“Trying to work my way through college to figure out exactly what I wanted to do,” Hudson said.

The Grand Valley State University graduate explains that her inspiration for law enforcement came from her parents’ work helping people.

“That ability to help people in need was somehow ingrained in me from such a young age. Who doesn’t want an exciting job? I’m not the desk nine to five,” Hudson explained.

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On Wednesday, Grand Haven hosted a meet and greet for its newest director.

“I’m really super, super proud of her,” said longtime friend Laurie Mason.

Mason has known Hudson since high school, when she coached one of his volleyball teams. She explains that Hudson’s last name has changed, but her passion for law enforcement has not.

“I saw her picture. I was like, ‘Oh, my God! That’s Junge. Wow.’ So yeah, you’re in good hands,” Mason added.

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The city manager explained that they were looking at five candidates for this role. All but one applicant was from Michigan. But in the end, the city chose Hudson.

“She’s just a phenomenal, compassionate, empathetic leader of the department. And there was a … there was an overwhelming consensus on that fact,” said Grand Haven City Manager Ashley Latsch.

Hudson is not alone in making a first in the city. Latsch is the first female city manager and was happy to welcome Hudson to the history books.

“She is so deserving,” Latsch added.

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“It’s about breaking barriers and just realizing that it doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you work hard and dedicate yourself,” Hudson said.

The role, which was previously all-male, did not stop Hudson from applying for the position.

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“I’ve seen the other side because being an instructor and a lot of male-dominated things in the department, so between a control tactics instructor and a Taser instructor, it’s every male-dominated position in an agency. I’ve been in the mix of things from day one, training male officers in how to do hand-to-hand combat and things like that. So I never looked at it as a gender role as much if not better than they could,” Hudson said.

She explained that she wants more women to apply to her department.

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“Unfortunately, being public safety, we’re also firefighters. And so there’s always the physical component. And so our entry into the firefighting career, there’s a physical agility test that always seems to weed out some of the candidates,” Hudson said.

The head of security explained that she would devote herself to the staff and the city.

“I just want to invest in our officers and make sure they get the education and training they need to be successful,” Hudson added. “It’s nice to finally be in a position where I can make a difference, improve what we’re trying to have at our agency and really invest in the people and the public.”

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