GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Getting police officers into schools to interact with children at younger ages. Increasing the number of community-police officers. More block parties.
Those are just a few of the ideas Grand Rapids Police and other city leaders heard during a community forum Wednesday night at the Grand Rapids Public Library, downtown. It was the second of four quarterly Grand Rapids Police Policy & Procedure Review Task Force forums. And more than 100 people attended Wednesday night. The first forum was Monday night at City Hall.
The panel Wednesday included several city officials and other stakeholders. Police Chief David Rahinsky was pleased with all of the input: "I can't say enough about the amount of dialogue - and the quality of dialogue - that's taken place."
Chief Rahinksy said one goal is to get the community comfortable in coming to the police department for help in any situation, and approaching them in public to simply say 'hello'. Improving community relations and lowering crime rates in Grand Rapids are two of the priorities.
Wednesday's forum split the crowd into focus groups, and asked them what they would like to see happen in that regard.
The task force was set up last year, and includes police officers from various ranks, as well as some residents representing the city's three wards. The City of Grand Rapids had contracted '21st Century Policing' to provide technical assistance in the input-gathering process, and to identify best practices that are being used across the country. Ronald Davis is a principal for that group. He said, "This is not an overnight process; it requires challenges. And then it require some comprehensive solutions."
The task force's next community forum will take place in June.