Task Force presents recommendations to improve GRPD/community relations

Photo courtesy: City of Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  —  The Grand Rapids Police say they’ve been proactive in taking action on the steps recommended by a task force for strengthening relations with the community – implementing several steps before the final set of recommendations was released Wednesday night.

The last quarterly report was presented by the Grand Rapids Police Policy & Procedure Review Task  at Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Parent University, 1400 Fuller Avenue NE. It includes 38 recommendations.

The task force and the group facilitating the project – 21st Century Building LLC – outlined details of the plan devised over a one-year time span. It includes an assessment of the Grand Rapids Police Department’s efforts to put in place recommendations made in President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss thanked the task force and the GRPD for their hard work over the past 18 months.

“This work has not been easy – it has required a lot of listening, learning and difficult conversations. Your efforts are critically important as we strive to eliminate disparate outcomes and strengthen community-police relations.”

Ron Davis principal of 21st Century Policing, was quoted in a city news release as saying – in part – “Progress is being made and a solid foundation has been created. With more work and true engagement and partnership with the community, we are confident that GRPD will become a national leader and model in 21st Century policing.”

The task force made several recommendations Wednesday in regards to  GRPD policy review, regarding their staffing and deployment, internal affairs, training, youth interactions, community policing and crime reduction, and recruiting and hiring practices.

The relationship between the GRPD and parts of the community have been the focal point of some recent controversial incidents that have drawn headlines.

The City of Grand Rapids laid out several steps of action the police force had taken prior to the public presentation of recommendations:

  • GRPD is working to identify a consultant following the task force’s recommendation that the department conduct a comprehensive staffing and deployment analysis and an assessment of current and future staffing needs.
  • The department is conducting regular analysis of its traffic stop data as part of its recent Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) designation.
  • Concerns about the conduct of police officers during interactions with community members now may be taken by on-duty supervisors and forwarded to GRPD’s Internal Affairs Unit. Previously, community members were referred directly to Internal Affairs, which was open only during normal business hours.
  • GRPD is conducting an in-depth analysis of Internal Affairs complaints on an annual basis as part of the CALEA process.
  • The department has updated its “Citizen Complaint Procedure” brochure, which is widely distributed in the community and available on the City’s website in English and Spanish. The pamphlet provides information on how citizens can file complaints about any GRPD employee and explains the Internal Affairs Unit and its investigation process.
  • The department is engaging community members and other stakeholders in officer training through its ongoing Policing at the Speed of Trust program.
  • The department implemented a Youth Interaction Policy that was developed by residents and police officers in consultation with 21st Century Policing and several community partners. City Manager Mark Washington plans to work with Police Chief David Rahinsky, police officers, the City Commission and community members to refine the policy following recent public input.

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