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Police unions in Grand Rapids push back on defunding

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Dustin Dwyer
/
Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids police officer unions are pushing back on calls to defund the department.

Three city commissioners in Grand Rapids have already said they support cutting the Grand Rapids Police Department’s budget by $9.4 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

The police officer’s union says a cut of that size would almost certainly mean layoffs for dozens of police officers.

"They're looking at potentially losing their jobs for doing their jobs," says Geoff Collard of the Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association. "And doing them very well here in Grand Rapids."

Geoff Collard is president of the Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association. He says the situation is not the same as when the department had to cut back during the Great Recession.

“This is something totally different,” Collard said at a press conference Thursday. “They’re looking at potentially losing their jobs for doing their jobs, and doing them very well here in Grand Rapids.”

Still some city leaders say cuts may be coming anyway, because of the city’s worsening financial situation.

The unions also questioned some of the reform proposals put forward in the city, like allowing the public to view union contract negotiations.

“Sometimes trying to negotiate a contract takes six months to a year,” said Andy Bingel, head of the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association. “If you add more people that don’t understand the city budget and basically contract language, it could just complicate, slow things down," he said.

But Bingel said the union would be open to talking about it with the city.

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