GRPD brings in specialist to improve police, community relations

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – As part of the city’s 12 Step Plan to improve community and police relations, the Grand Rapids Police Department brought in a specialist helping train police and community leaders on the science of human bias, and how to have positive relationships with the public.

“To state the obvious, this department wants to be the best of our size in the country and this is another step in that direction,” said GRPD Chief Dave Rahinsky.

Since 2011, GRPD has made a number of changes to help this vision, including the implementation and use of body cameras, offering weekly coffee hours with local officers, even asking the community for input on its new mission statement.

Friday, Assoc. Professor Lorie Fridell from the University of South Florida was brought in to help facilitate GRPD in their Fair and Impartial Police training, a day-and-a-half focused on transparency and building trust between the community and its officers.

“When the officers are out, they’re having positive contact with the homeless, transgendered, prostitutes and this allows them to reduce their biases and stereotypes,” said Assoc. Professor Fridell.

Fridell specializes in Criminology, teaching GRPD what she calls the science of bias.

“This includes an understanding there might be an explicit bias like racism, but even well-intentioned people have implicit biases that can impact their behavior that has impact on their perspective.”

The Assoc. Professor saying the idea is to eliminate those subconscious levels of bias, stereotypes and prejudices. Community activists from the Urban League, NAACP and the Hispanic community were also in attendance, now looking to spread the knowledge as community ambassadors.

“What I want to do is strengthen that bond between the police and the community, and that’s not something that can be done overnight,” Chief Rahinsky said. “We need to continue to open doors and make relationships that are long-lasting and built on trust.”

Chief Rahinsky said there’s always room for improvement, which is why the department will soon disclose an action plan based on everything they’ve learned to one day build a better and safer Grand Rapids.

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3 comments

  • steve

    The police will never satisfy some people, regardless. To them, it’s always the cops’ fault. Until people with a mindset like that learn that the biases held by some will never change until they realize that it’s a two way street.

  • Old Bob

    The first step to improve police community relations is getting rid of that butt kissing Chief Dave Rahinsky and get a new police chief who is hard line and enforces the laws equality for everyone.

    The minorities who think they should have special treatment need to learn they are going to be treated the same way everyone else is treated. Regardless of how much they protest, march, or riot.

    I am all for positive contact with the homeless, transgendered and prostitutes. Make contact with them, say hello. Than arrest them.

    It’s time to clean Grand Rapids up.