GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Discussions on "defunding the police" are continuing nationwide, but the unions representing police officers and police commanders in Grand Rapids say reducing the funds going to the department will result in a less safe community.
Currently, the Police Department is allocated roughly 39% of the city's budget. According to the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association and the Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association, there is a campaign to reduce that part of the budget down to 32%, the lowest it can go for GRPD per city charter rules.
That would be a cut of more than $9 million to the Police Department's budget. The associations say it could mean up to 78 officers of 298 being let go.
The cuts were only brought up to city council members this week and are currently not an active proposal that's been submitted.
If those cuts were enacted, the associations say the remaining officers will not be able to protect the city at level they currently do.
They say a cut in $9 million would also mean the entire night shift and half of the investigative unit would be gone. Plus, every specialty unit would shut down including VICE, Community Engagement, and Traffic.
All they would be able to respond to would be violent and in-progress calls.
GRPOA President Captain Geoffrey Collard says 80% of the budget is for personnel.
Contractually, the department is required to spend certain funds on certain items. For instance, $11 million has to be spent on things like body cams, body armor and dash cams.
The GRPOA says if the city wants to negotiate a public dialogue for police contracts it would be open to the idea to figure out what that would look like.