GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.– The Downtown Development Authority has approved the hiring of safety ambassador firm “Block By Block” out of Kentucky to bring in personnel to Grand Rapids.
The group already runs the program out of 65 other cities and the DDA will spend up to $300,000 dollars to start training ambassadors in Grand Rapids.
It’s a non-conventional way to look at public safety, a way the DDA is hoping will help increase a sense of safety on the streets of downtown.
Kris Larson with the DDA says the training of the ambassadors and the deployment of them will vary on the needs but they’ll be trained to become an extra set of ‘eyes and ears’ for police.
They’ll be up to ten ambassadors patrolling an estimated 270 hours a week.
“They’ll also be working with the business community to stop and collect information on where we’re seeing trends and issues of concern. So then we can modify deployment or alert police of any arising trends we’re seeing,” said Larson.
The work they do will vary, for instance one of the ambassadors may be a licensed social worker. Working directly with people in need and encouraging them to use the services available in the community.
“Dealing with issues related to the perception of safety as well as the health of businesses social service outreach they are really going to be training across a range of disciplines to respond to any situational needs that arise.”
The ambassadors are expected to start sometime in the fall.