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Grand Rapids Police Department

City commissioners in Grand Rapids were once again flooded with calls last night from people upset with the city’s police department.

This time, callers to the commissioner’s meeting spoke out against officers arresting eight protesters downtown Monday night. The city manager says the police department will review the arrests.

“Can we just get back to normal?”

Grand Rapids mayor Rosalynn Bliss posed the question Tuesday afternoon during a very abnormal state of the city address. In years past, Bliss delivered her address in the evening, in front of a packed crowd, while audience members sipped on craft beer. Tuesday afternoon she spoke in a nearly empty room, at a venue that opened in October 2019, just in time to spend most of 2020 closed to the public.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

People protested in Grand Rapids Friday, two days after Kentucky officials announced no murder charges for police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor.

Taylor grew up in Grand Rapids. She was killed in March by Louisville police during a raid. A Grand Jury declined to prosecute the two officers who shot her, saying they reacted appropriately when Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them. One officer was charged for “wanton endangerment” for firing shots into a neighboring apartment.

8 guns laid out on beige carpet
Joshua Shearn / Wikimedia Commons / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Grand Rapids has seen more homicides so far this year than it did in all of 2019. That’s prompted the Grand Rapids Police Department to propose a gun buy-back program.

There have been 471 gunfire incidents so far this year and 22 homicides compared to 17 for all of last year.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

City leaders in Grand Rapids say they’re not yet ready to talk about ways to defund the police department.

Instead, the focus is on a new strategic plan for the department which was presented to commissioners Tuesday.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department has released a draft of a new strategic plan after many in the community called for defunding the department.

The plan would convert all current patrol officers to community-based officers assigned to specific neighborhoods, and incoming 911 calls will be managed so that sworn officers only respond when they’re needed.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

After hearing more than four hours worth of comments from the public and debating amongst themselves past midnight, Grand Rapids city commissioners did not make any dramatic changes to the police department budget.

Commissioners did vote on an amendment to the city’s budget which will result in a reduction of nearly $400,000 to the police department’s budget this year. Those changes will move the Oversight and Public Accountability Department out of the Grand Rapids Police Department, and increase its staffing. The amendment will also create a new civilian assistant director for the police department, a new communications manager and reduce costs by cutting overtime and supplies, among other changes.

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.

dumpster on fire with protesters gathered around it
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis prompted large protests in Grand Rapids. But Grand Rapids has its own history of troubling interactions between police and residents. Now the city is having tough conversations about the future of policing there.

Brian Jennings stands at the front of a crowd of protesters who marched through Grand Rapids Wednesday.
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer set off massive protests across the U.S. At many of those protests, there was a familiar refrain: "Defund the police." It was scrawled across poster boards and chanted by protesters. But what does that actually mean? For some activists in Grand Rapids, it means reopening the city budget to move funding away from police and to other community services. LaDonna Norman, a member of the group Together We Are Safe, is one of those activists.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

At least three commissioners in Grand Rapids signaled support for cutting the police department budget during a meeting on Tuesday morning. But because of a rare provision in the city’s charter, those cuts would be limited.

In 1995, voters in Grand Rapids approved a provision to require that at least 32% of the city’s general fund must go toward police services.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The city of Grand Rapids is facing calls to re-open the 2021 budget to cut funding for police.

The city finalized its budget less than a month ago. That budget included cuts to many departments, including police, because of an expected shortfall in revenue.

But now a number of people in the city want the Grand Rapids Police Department’s budget cut even further.

Brian Jennings stands at the front of a crowd of protesters who marched through Grand Rapids Wednesday.
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids officials told residents the city is commited to implementing changes to make policing more accountable, and safer for residents, in an online update forum on Friday.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Update: The Grand Rapids City Commission met Tuesday and discussed the events of Saturday night. The mayor and city commissioners decided not to extend the city's 7 p.m. curfew. The full meeting is available online here.

I walked the streets of my city on the night of mayhem Saturday, and witnessed the destruction. I saw the fires burning in the street. I heard the sound of glass shattering, of people cheering. I felt the warmth from a fire as it swallowed a police vehicle on a quiet intersection.

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

About three in ten Grand Rapids residents don’t trust the city’s police department, according to an anonymous digital survey conducted by the city.

The police department is using the survey to get feedback from residents in real time. 

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A state Court of Appeals panel ruled that the Grand Rapids Police Department is allowed to gather photos and fingerprints to help identify people they stop.

Back in 2014, GRPD began fighting this case but the incidents in question go back to 2011 and 2012.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A veteran Grand Rapids police captain was put on a 20-hour suspension, and will have to go through additional training, after the city’s Civilian Appeal Board found he violated department policy.

Captain Curt VanderKooi is the officer who contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the case of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a U.S. citizen who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and faced possible deportation based on a tip from VanderKooi.

Grand Rapids' new police chief, Eric Payne.
City of Grand Rapids

Eric Payne will be the next chief of Grand Rapids police.

The city made the announcement Friday, after a months-long nationwide search. Payne is a nearly 33-year veteran of the Grand Rapids Police Department. He currently serves as Deputy Chief. He will be the department's first black police chief. 

Interim Police Chief David Kiddle standing at podium in the park
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids officials and community members spoke out against recent uptick in shootings around the city at a press conference Friday.

There have been ten shootings resulting in six people being injured in the city this week. City officials are in talks with neighborhood associations and community activists to find solutions to the violence.

David Kiddle, the interim Chief of Police for the Grand Rapids Police Department, says there has been one arrest made so far in connection to the shootings.

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is considering a full investigation into the Grand Rapids Police Department.

The department held two public hearings Thursday to hear from residents, and most of the testimonies painted the police in a negative light.

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids police department has placed one of its senior commanders on administrative leave.

The city says it’s reviewing the actions of GRPD captain Curt VanderKooi in a case that led to a U.S. citizen being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A Grand Rapids City Commission meeting had to end early last night, after protestors disrupted the meeting.

The protestors, organized by Movimiento Cosecha GR, called on the city to end all police cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE.

“ICE and cops go hand in hand,” dozens of protestors shouted, while standing in front of commission members.

Photo courtesy of the family of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez


Photo courtesy of the family of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department is changing its policy on cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The City Commission unanimously voted to hire Public Sector Search and Consulting at a meeting Tuesday.

PSSC has done work in big cities like Seattle, Dallas, and San Francisco, but also has worked in smaller cities like Albany and Syracuse.

Grand Rapids police chief and city manager
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Chief of Police officially announced his retirement Thursday.

David Rahinsky has been a police officer for more than 30 years, and has been chief in Grand Rapids since July 2014.

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department updated its Youth Interactions Policy on Monday.

The previous policy was made after officers handcuffed and arrested an unarmed 11 year old black girl last December.

police car
Matt Popovich / Unsplash

 

Today, did the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ignore a staff scientist’s warnings about PFAS contamination in 2012? Plus, the chief of the Grand Rapids Police Department tells us how he plans to implement changes to reduce racial bias following a task force’s review of the department. 

Residents standing outside police station
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids residents gathered on Sunday to talk to the police chief and other city officials about incidents involving innocent and unarmed black kids being put in handcuffs or held at gunpoint.

Community members showed up outside the Grand Rapids Police Department downtown to protest the department's actions, but it later became an open community forum to talk with representatives from the department and the city commission.

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