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GRPD releases draft plan to "transform" policing in Grand Rapids

Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department has released adraft of a new strategic plan after many in the community called for defunding the department.

The plan would convert all current patrol officers to community-based officers assigned to specific neighborhoods, and incoming 911 calls will be managed so that sworn officers only respond when they’re needed.

“This plan lays out a vision for reimaging policing in our community,” police chief Eric Payne said, according to a statement released by the city. “Our nation is undergoing a significant social awakening that demands both recognition and a commitment to change. This moment is the turning point for our department’s relationship with the community. Our strategies will help build a stronger bond and safer neighborhoods.”  

The plan lays out strategies to free up sworn officers so they can spend more time interacting with residents in neighborhoods. Changing how the department responds to 911 calls is one way to do that. The plan says the department will find other ways to respond to calls that don't require an officer. A Homeless Outreach Team will be expanded, and the department plans to pilot a Mental and Behavioral Health Team “that can co-respond to mental health, non-violent substance use, and other related calls for service.”

The department says it will also use more data and technology to try to track and prevent crime, and will develop a “real-time crime center with access to public space video.”

The city of Detroit already uses a similar strategy with real-time crime centers, though community members have protested the city’s use of facial recognition technology to identify suspects caught on video. The Grand Rapids plan makes no mention of facial recognition technology, though it does say the department will look into other technologies, such as gunfire detection technology and drones.

Police Chief Eric Payne will officially present the draft strategic plan to city commissioners on Tuesday. The department says it will gather input on the plan through August 25 and submit a final plan on September 29. You can read the full plan here.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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