GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The community has long said changes need to be made within the Grand Rapids Police Department, especially given recent allegations of racial profiling.
Now, City Manager Mark Washington is providing funds for the department to expand community policing. The new budget adds two community police officers and several office staff members to allow for sworn officers previously on desk jobs to become more active in the community.
“That was one of the results some years ago,” GRPD Sgt. Dan Adams said. “Not only have we gone from about 400 officers down to the 295, but we have lost a significant amount of civilian officers as well. That work still needs to be done, and we have for a number of years now had to perform those duties by sworn personnel.”
A recent study says while GRPD was adequately staffed in terms of sworn officers, many of those officers were performing tasks below their skill level.
“We’ll be able to free up some sworn personnel to go into more of a patrol function, possibly even community policing specialist positions,” Adams said.
The new positions will allow for, in total, five new officers to perform the duties of community police officers. They will also work an evening shift, so they can be more involved in community events.
Currently, community police officers typically only work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“I think these are things that needed to be done,” Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington said. “So it’s not a matter of people saying, “Do something.’ Certainly, that has been the sentiment. But I think resourcing the department, resourcing every department, is important. The budget is the way to do that.”
The department notes, however, there is still more work to be done.
“It certainly is a step in the right direction, and we’re appreciative of the city’s support,” Adams said. “I think interim Chief (David) Kiddle has already gone on record as saying, ‘Though this is a step in the right direction, in the department’s eye,’ it’s not enough.”
The Grand Rapids fiscal year 2020 budget, which includes $553 million in spending, was approved at the city commission Tuesday night.