GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Police Department presented plans to the Committee of the Whole and the public Tuesday for changes to policy and procedure, brought on by the unrest seen across the country just a few months ago following the death of George Floyd.
It's an extensive plan, and the first time the department has even had a strategic plan in place since the late-1990s/early-2000s.
Chief Payne says this time in making their plan, they're listening to how the community would like to be policed, rather than assuming how police work in Grand Rapids should be done.
“I’m here to say, as I have for several months, I hear you,” Payne said in a Zoom Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday.
Payne says he knows listening isn't enough, however. He says he's attempting to make real changes to policy and procedure in line with what the community has said they want.
“Law enforcement as a profession has a long history of service and sacrifice. But it’s not without mistakes and shortcomings, including playing a significant role in systemic racism,” Payne said.
Things will look different with GRPD, in a number of ways. The full plan can be found here.
“Our vision that we will become the safest mid-sized town, and the most trusted police department in the United States,” Payne said.
Payne says he knows it's a lofty goal. Among the many changes, patrol officers will now be assigned neighborhoods to police within the city.
“We’re going to a neighborhood base, as opposed to community-based policing. Every neighborhood is different in this city. To just have one community plan, does not apply to the entire city.” Payne said.
He says he hopes by placing officers in communities consistently, it will allow them to form meaningful relationships.
“We’ll have officers assigned to each beat in the city, which covers the neighborhoods. Right now we have roughly 15 community police specialists. We’ll have 130 policing specialists when this plan is implemented. That will be working with neighborhoods, to address their concerns, issues that may come up," Payne said.
That means all patrol officers will now be trained and become community police officers, focused on engagement with the population they serve.
“It’s about relationship building. Ultimately we need to raise that trust value with the community members of Grand Rapids,” Payne said.
The department has also created a police dashboard to monitor their progress on meeting the goals laid out in the strategic plan.
“Which will heighten our transparency on things such as the budget, use of force, where citizens can click onto that and see how we’re doing and provide feedback,” Payne said.
The plan also includes new policies like one that will require officers to report when their colleagues are using excessive force, and to prevent retaliation for the officer reporting.
It's all in an effort to connect with the public. GRPD says they can't do it alone. They're asking the public for feedback on the plan, as well as planning several town halls to keep the discussion going. You can provide your feedback to the plan here.