GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Grand Rapids Police Department says software to help alert the internal affairs unit of any issues with officers was purchased even before protests took place across the country in response to the shooting death by police of Michael Brown in Missouri and the strangulation by police of Eric Gardner in New York.
The department said that it had been eying the software for several years, but it wasn’t until late summer when the new chief decided to actually move forward with the computer program. Essentially the goal is early detection and intervention to prevent further problems when it comes to complaints with an individual officer.
"One thing I don't think people realize is we are very hard on our officers from internal affairs standpoint, from a training unit stand point," said GRPD Sgt. Matthew Janiskee of the department's internal affairs unit. "We are harder on our officers than people think we are."
The newly implemented software is called IA Pro and is being used to help categorize and track of complaints against officers filed by members of the community, Sgt. Janiskee said.
Janiskee said that the software helps internal affairs sort through citizen complaints, and if several are filed against the same officer, the computer system will alert the department. "Just because an officer has a higher number of complaints this month, it could be call volume. It could be anything. It doesn't necessarily mean they are doing anything wrong,."
"We look at it as is it a training issue," said Sgt. Janiskee, "especially if we have so many new hires coming. We haven't hired in a long time, so it just shows us if there are complaints, if there are areas we need to train up on."
GRPD Police Chief David Rahinsky said that the software purchase came after the department spent several years searching for the right program to help identify problem areas within the department, "to identify any officers that have issues, potentially training issues, but really makes us more aware on the front end as to where any concerns or trends are," he said.
Officers traveled out of state in the fall to learn how to use the software and are still in the process of transferring all their paper files into the electronic system.
"We are still not experts at it, but it's a very good program," said Sgt. Janiskee.
The IA Pro software isn’t just being used here in Grand Rapids. According to the program’s website, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo are also using the software, as well as police departments in Australia and New Zealand.