City announces policy changes to GRPD

Posted at 1:10 AM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 01:10:27-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The city of Grand Rapids has announced new changes to policing, which they plan to put into effect within the next 60 days. Other solutions will take longer or require additional consideration.

In total, the full list of immediate modifications, updates and changes include 19 items within 3 months:

  • Improve use of force policy by explicitly banning chokeholds
  • Improve our policy requiring officers to de-escalate situations, where possible, by communicating with subjects, maintaining distance and otherwise eliminating the need to use force
  • Require officers to give a verbal warning in all situations whenever possible before using deadly force
  • Require officers to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives, including non-force and less-lethal force options, before resorting to deadly force
  • Improve our policy by requiring officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and report these incidents immediately to a supervisor
  • Update the policy on banning officers from shooting at moving vehicles (GRPD previously banned this practice)
  • Make sure all uniformed officers have names on all uniforms while in public to include events involving civil unrest
  • Ensure Office of Oversight and Public Accountability reviews and releases a comprehensive report regarding the status of all prior community-police relations studies, recommendations and commitments. This report will be released within the next 30 days.
  • Continue to make structural changes to the Grand Rapids Police Department to address recommendations made in the deployment study, Lamberth Traffic Study and 21st Century Policing report. More civilian employees are needed in Public Information and Senior Administrative roles.
  • Identify funding to expand the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability. I have asked the Police Chief to assist in this funding initiative.
  • Establish a Community Police Advisory Council that provides ongoing support and advice to the Police Chief on plans, strategies and policies.
  • Increase and enhance training offered by Office of Equity and Engagement and the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability related to equity, justice, implicit bias and other related topics for all City staff, including Police 3
  • Work with Economic Development, Our Communities Children, OEE and OPA to work with the business community to increase summer job opportunities for youth
  • Collaborate with community to support programming that provides information, awareness and resources to be an ally to address systemic and institutional racism
  • Improve resident engagement by creating more opportunities to represent groups to promote safety and accountability and prevent crime
  • Office of Equity and Engagement will host an event in partnership with OPA led by subject matter experts regarding processing and healing from trauma and vicarious trauma related to racism and use of force
  • Create pathways for ongoing input and support from the community for the plan, strategies and tactics of GRPD
  • Continue to complete the Office of Oversight and Accountability’s strategic plan and implement additional strategies to increase restorative justice programming, elevating community voice and public safety engagement.
  • Ensure the Police Department works with Office of Oversight and Public Accountability, Human Resources, Grand Rapids Public Schools, colleges, community organizations and labor groups to increase efforts in recruiting more diverse candidates

Some changes already model what the police department has been doing.

"[Chokeholds] have never been a trained technique since I have been in the department. We need to put that into policy so that it’s very clear that it’s not allowed," said Police Chief Eric Payne.

City Manager Mark Washington says these are the first steps towards creating greater equity and inclusion.

"I am convinced that we have officers who have not only the right things on paper, but do have hearts and minds and are willing to work with this community to make sure that we change in the right way," said Washington.

Both Chief Payne and Washington acknowledged much more work has to be done.

“It’s not a one and done. We have to be diligent in continuing to listening to the community, looking at best practices, and laws effect how we operate. So all those things need to be taken into account," said Chief Payne.

The city says it has received feedback from residents asking for the police department to be 'defunded' or 'dismantled.' Current city budget is decided via charter, which allocates 32% of the city's budget to the police department. Making a change such as that, if ever, would require much more time and consideration than 60 days. Other requests that would take more consideration would be opening up talks of labor negotiations to the public.