GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Police Department has shifted its community policing philosophy by “taking it to the neighborhood level,” according to a news release Tuesday.
GRPD says the new neighborhood based policing model increases patrol staffing by redeploying officers previously assigned as community policing specialists.
“The officer will become part of the neighborhood and be vested in its success, as well as be a resource for the residents and businesses,” Chief Eric Payne said to the City’s Public Safety Committee Tuesday afternoon. “Officers will be able to work directly with those in the neighborhood, find solutions to significant issues and be a helpful advocate. This approach also will allow us to encourage young people in the neighborhoods to consider a future career in law enforcement as we look to recruit our next generation of GRPD officers.”
GRPD says the department was unable to perform traditional community policing with available resources, prompting the agency to develop a different approach.
GRPD Deputy Chief Kristen Rogers, who oversees development and implementation of the department’s strategic plan, said, “Through strategies and action steps, such as the move to neighborhood policing model, we will be a more effective, inclusive and efficient police department. We will advance public safety while earning the trust and pride of those we serve and those who serve.”
With staffing levels much less than the national average of 2.3 officers per 1,000 residents -- Grand Rapids has less than 1.5 officers per 1000 -- this was a challenging undertaking.
Despite this, GRPD is providing 124 officers of the 132 required to each neighborhood in the city, 24 hours-a-day and 365 days-a-year, the department said. As of Sunday, officers will cover 92 percent of beats across all service areas.
“I’m really excited to serve the Heartside neighborhood,” Officer Patrick Martin said. “This new beat will allow me to spend more time developing relationships with residents by walking the neighborhood, visiting businesses, churches, parks and other public spaces.”