GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Tuesday morning, Grand Rapids city commissioners discussed a staffing study focused on the police department. The independent inquiry initially drew criticism from the officers' union.
Authors of the four-month staffing study from consulting group Hillard Heintze explained their findings to city commissioners.
One key recommendation included the need for more civilian staffers so sworn officers aren't bogged down with administrative work and can focus on patrolling.
"To me, the report was very insightful as it looked at overall organization and deployment, efficiencies, best use, best practices and I think they highlighted some areas that I believe really support our officers and freeing up their time in doing what they really want to do be doing as police officers," Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said.
City Manager Mark Washington said he wants the department to have more employees.
"I think obviously there's a need for staffing. So there will be in my budget recommendation a staffing increase for the police department," Washington said.
Part of the staffing search will be to determine which type is most needed.
Washington said Interim Chief David Kiddle had already asked for the latter, before the 53-page study came out.
"The one thing I did point out to the commission, the 10 officers we requested over the last four years have been for community policing specialist positions. Not for patrol. which is what they really did their analysis on," Kiddle said. "So, I do feel there is a need and a desire for community policing specialists to work in the evening hours and that's what we will be pursuing."
He said the request for 10 new community policing officers has been denied the past four budgets. Kiddle said some recommendations surprised him, but he needs more time to digest the study before elaborating.
Authors of the study also said detectives should be working nights and weekends.
In response, Kiddle said, "That's difficult to do. You've got union issues involved. When you do that then you have less people during the day. So it's just a matter of looking at it more in-depth. So, it's certainly something we'll take a look at."
Monday, police union representatives told FOX 17 they take issue with parts of the study because it suggests officers need not respond to false alarms, parking enforcement or minor crashes.
"My belief is that if their child is involved in a car crash that an officer would be dispatched to come take the report, help them out, have the resources that they need to move on from that crash," said Collard. "What the report is really recommending is to not do certain things, and again, that is a question that should be bigger than the police department."
Union representatives also said officers are already doing more with less.
The city manager said he'll weigh the study recommendations over the next couple of weeks as he outlines his budget recommendations.