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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

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.

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.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Update: Brian Jennings was arrested by Grand Rapids police Thursday afternoon. The Kent County Prosecutor's office initially told Michigan Radio Jennings was charged with destruction of property separately from the destruction that happened in the downtown core on Saturday night. Since then, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker says additional charges have been filed for rioting, breaking and entering and destruction of property at 82 Ionia on Saturday. The Kent County Prosecutors office is located in the building. 

Hundreds of angry people with no leader, and no plan.

A city, and a police department, on edge.

That was Grand Rapids again last night, less than a week after protests downtown turned to destruction and looting.

But last night, things turned out differently.

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.

Photo courtesy of the family of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez

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.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A senior Grand Rapids police officer could face disciplinary action over the case of a U.S. citizen who was detained by immigration authorities last year.

Captain Curt VanderKooi was originally cleared by an internal affairs investigation by the GRPD. The department’s investigation said VanderKooi was justified in contacting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because he had concerns the original arrest could be related to a terrorist plot.

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Two social justice organizations filed complaints against the Grand Rapids Police Department with the state Department of Civil Rights.

The ACLU of Michigan and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center say the GRPD has racially profiled residents in two recent incidents.

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department exonerated a controversial captain who called Immigration and Customs Enforcement about a U.S. citizen and Marine combat veteran.

The officer, Captain Curt VanderKooi, was reinstated on Friday after the department opened an internal investigation, which exonerated VanderKooi. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids police department doesn’t need more officers. It needs more civilian staff and better organization.

That’s the conclusion from a new study commissioned by the city.

The city paid about $100,000 for the study, which was done by the consulting firm Hillard Heintze.

Debra Kirby of Hillard Heintze presented the results to city commissioners on Tuesday. She said the city’s police department cut back on civilian staff when the economy was bad.

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

Grand Rapids police want to hear what high school students have to say. So the department is asking 25 students to join its Youth Advisory Council this fall.

The city’s Chief of Police says it’s important to get the youth perspective on issues. And that’s exactly what the IMPACT group looks to accomplish.

The council will meet once a month at 1 Monroe Center St NW. Students can share their experiences and thoughts about law enforcement in their community.

The department has been doing a lot to change their image within the community.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that the city of Grand Rapids must release recordings in connection with the crash of former Kent County assistant prosecutor Josh Kuiper.

The recordings are phone conversations between police officers who investigated the crash. In those conversations, officers appear to be trying to avoid arresting the prosecutor for drunk driving. 

Community members talk about policing in Grand Rapids at the first of five scheduled public meetings scheduled for June.
Dustin Dwyer

Police department leaders and elected city officials in Grand Rapids listened quietly today at the first public meeting to discuss police and community relations. 

It was the first of five scheduled public meetings on the topic. The meetings came about in part because of a study released in April that showed Grand Rapids police pull over black and Hispanic drivers at disproportionate rates compared to whites. And, there was an incident in March in which a police officer held five unarmed black boys at gun point.

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The city of Grand Rapids launches a series of public meetings today on police- community relations.

The meetings come after a study showed Grand Rapids police disproportionately pulled over black and Hispanic drivers in the city compared to whites.

As Michigan Radio reported when the study came out:

The study took into account the demographics of drivers at 20 intersections. 

Grand Rapids police officer directing traffic.
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Grand Rapids will add an extra million dollars in next year’s budget to improve community and police relations. But city leaders still haven't decided how that money will be spent.

In April, many people in the city were outraged over an incident in which Grand Rapids police officers held five unarmed black boys at gunpoint. That same month, the city released a study showing that police were more likely to pull over black and Hispanic drivers than white drivers.

So yesterday, city commissioners decided to add a million dollars per year over the next five years for that goal. They just didn't decide how to spend the money.