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City of Grand Rapids outlines progress on police reform efforts

Posted at 7:59 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 19:59:32-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — City Manager Mark Washington and Police Chief Eric Payne today provided an update on police reform efforts and recommended additional action steps.

The new initiatives follow a series of operational changes to improve policing in Grand Rapids announced last month.

The following action steps are being proposed:

  • Create a civilian chief of staff position to assist the police chief in administration, strategic direction and innovation – to be funded by the current police department budget
  • Create a civilian public information officer in the police chief’s office – to be grant-funded initially
  • Create a position in the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability – to be funded by the current police department budget

These actions and the required budget amendments would reduce the police department’s budget by $396,012 and would reinvest that money in community-based efforts, including oversight, communications and engagement.

“It is unusual for me to recommend budget amendments involving personnel so soon after the start of a fiscal year, particularly amid uncertainties around economic performance,” Washington said. “However, due to the urgency of this police reform work, these budget amendments are needed now to support these three additional staffing positions.”

Payne and OPA Director Brandon Davis also outlined other significant changes being implemented in the police department and elsewhere in the City organization. They said most of the initiatives would be completed by the end of August.

Here are those initiatives and their status:

  • Improve the department’s use of force policy by explicitly banning chokeholds – to be presented to the City Commission on Aug. 11
  • Improve policy requiring officers to de-escalate situations, where possible, by communicating with subjects, maintaining distance and otherwise eliminating the need to use force – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Require officers to give a verbal warning in all situations whenever possible before using deadly force – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Require officers to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives, including non-force and less-lethal force options, before resorting to deadly force – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Improve policy by requiring officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and report these incidents immediately to a supervisor – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Update the policy on banning officers from shooting at moving vehicles – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Ban no-knock warrants – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Increase efforts to recruit more diverse police candidates – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Enhance relocation incentives for police personnel to live in the city – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Create a safety and accountability ambassador program – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Create pathways for community input into police plan and tactics – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Review the committees and boards that oversee public safety – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Make sure all uniformed officers have their name on all uniforms – completed
  • OPA report on all priority community-police relations reports – to be presented Aug. 11
  • OPA’s strategic plan – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Host an event led by subject matter experts regarding processing and healing from trauma and vicarious trauma related to racism and use of force – plans to be presented to the City Commission on July 21
  • Increase and enhance training related to equity, justice, implicit bias and other related topics for all City staff, including police – request for proposals to be issued July 10
  • Collaborate with the community to support programming that provides information, awareness and resources to be an ally to address systemic and institutional racism – to be presented Aug. 11
  • Increase summer job opportunities for youth – GRow1000 has been launched and youth employment begins July 13
  • Open public meetings for collective bargaining – to be discussed before the next round of labor negotiations
  • Subpoena power for the Civilian Appeal Board– to be presented July 21
  • Settlement with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights on its ongoing investigation into the patterns and practices of the police department – to be presented July 21

“We are fully aware of the challenges and opportunities that lie before us,” Payne said. “As a police department, we are fully committed to working with the community to reach this desired outcome.”

The presentation on police reform took place during this morning’s City Commission Committee of the Whole meeting. You can read the full presentation HERE.