GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky and Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack publicly disagreed about whether GRPD officers should’ve handcuffed a 12-year-old girl during a recent shooting investigation.
But now they’ve agreed to discuss how to strength police/community relations in an open forum with community stakeholders this Sunday, October 21, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Grand Rapids Police headquarters, 1 Monroe Center Ave. NW. Light refreshments will be provided and parking validation will be available for anyone parking in a city ramp. City leaders, include Chief Rahinsky and Commissioner Womack will be available after the community session for comment.
According to a GRPD news release, Chief Rahinsky and Commissioner Womack met Wednesday morning to talk about the October 9th incident involving police officer and youth, and also discuss ways for the police department to improve relations with the public while addressing “concerns about disparate outcomes.
“They came together with shared goals: meaningful dialogue, a lasting positive impact on the community and the safety,
health and engagement of all community members, including police officers.”
The agenda for Sunday’s gathering at the Grand Rapids Police Department includes:
· Opening welcome and introductions by Chief Rahinsky and Commissioner Womack
· Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) command staff will distribute copies of the
department’s Youth Interaction Policy and hold discussions around the content of the
· Members of the department’s Training Unit will discuss and answer questions about
officers’ decision-making training and, more specifically, how the department has
incorporated the Youth Interaction Policy into its training
· The Internal Affairs Unit will explain the GRPD complaint process and encourage
members of the community to file a complaint if they believe a situation is handled
· There will be an open forum public comment session for community members to voice
their concerns or bring forward ideas about the Youth Interaction Policy with Chief
Rahinsky and Commissioner Womack.
Commissioner Womack says in the release that the community meeting is “not about who is right and who is wrong. This is about making sure that all members of society are treated fairly. It is about making sure that the young members of our community are handled in an age-appropriate manner to match the circumstances and that all community members have a voice. I believe that working together with the police department is the best way to achieve these goals for the residents of Grand Rapids.”
Chief Rahinsky said, “Our police department prides itself on being transparent and accountable. We are here to protect and serve, and we take that responsibility very seriously. Anytime an issue arises that threatens to damage our relationship with the community or our mutual trust, it is essential to keep the lines of communication open in every direction.”
Earlier this week, the GRPD released body-camera video and 911 audio calls that came in about a supposed shooting at a house on Batavia Place NE, north of E. Fulton Street. Someone reported seeing a woman running from the home. However, police did not end up finding evidence of a shooting. The 12-year-old girl was briefly handcuffed, and once no weapons were found on her, she was uncuffed about two minute slater.
Commissioner Womack later contended in public comments that the girl should never have been handcuffed, while Chief Rahinsky maintained that officers acted appropriately, considering the citizen report about shots fired in the area. Womack also organized an “All Kids Matter” demonstration for 5 p.m. this Sunday, October 21, outside police headquarters. He said on his Facebook page the march will “emphasize the fact that 11 black children have been handcuffed by the Grand Rapids Police recently.”