GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — For nearly a full calendar year, there hasn't been a reason for the Grand Rapids Police Department to station an officer in the city to direct traffic and help people safely cross the street.
There hasn't been any traffic downtown, because there was no reason for people to come downtown in large numbers.
Now people are heading to DeVos Place to get their vaccine. Traffic has backed up around DeVos several times. Grand Rapids Police say they are on top of it, working with the people who are running things inside DeVos Place to help things run smoothly and safely on the outside.
“There is some sense of normalcy down here with traffic,” Sgt. John Wittkowski said.
Police officers say they're not the heroes here; they say the people inside DeVos Place giving thousands of vaccinations are the heroes. But officers are happy to help.
“Our frontline medical workers, they’re to be applauded; and we’re happy to take a back seat and support them in whatever way we can,” Wittkowski said.
But the traffic is a good sign, a sign that life is inching back to normal.
Daniel Lewis got his vaccine Wednesday. He's happy to be back downtown, even if it is to get a shot. “I can’t wait till everything opens back up,” Lewis said.
Bob Buffham got his vaccine Wednesday, too. He worked downtown for four decades and says nearly everything has changed about downtown, except the people being there. He's ready for them to be back, too.
“I know this pandemic is going to be over quickly, as soon as everyone gets a vaccine,” Buffham said.