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Grand Rapids Police Department

Grand Rapids Police Department
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department wants a better relationship with the community it serves -- so it sought out a task force to review its policies.

The department volunteered for this review after a study released earlier this year found some racial disparities in traffic stops.

Community members talk about policing in Grand Rapids at the first of five scheduled public meetings scheduled for June.
Dustin Dwyer

Police department leaders and elected city officials in Grand Rapids listened quietly today at the first public meeting to discuss police and community relations. 

It was the first of five scheduled public meetings on the topic. The meetings came about in part because of a study released in April that showed Grand Rapids police pull over black and Hispanic drivers at disproportionate rates compared to whites. And, there was an incident in March in which a police officer held five unarmed black boys at gun point.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The city of Grand Rapids launches a series of public meetings today on police- community relations.

The meetings come after a study showed Grand Rapids police disproportionately pulled over black and Hispanic drivers in the city compared to whites.

As Michigan Radio reported when the study came out:

The study took into account the demographics of drivers at 20 intersections. 

Police Officer
Matthew Sutherland / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The city of Grand Rapids has been working on trying to find ways to make sure police officers are not treating citizens unequally and improving relations with the community.

The city has been working to implement a so-called 12-point plan, something that’s been in the works for a couple of years.

But, a recent traffic stop report indicated its officers are treating people of color differently than white citizens, arresting them more frequently. Then, there was the recent incident about an officer pulling his weapon on five unarmed African-American boys.

Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky joined Stateside to discuss.

a police squad car
Flickr user Scott Davidson/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

A prosecutor has determined that Grand Rapids police were justified in the death of an 18-year-old man who was involved in a shootout with officers.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker also released police in-car camera and officer body camera footage Tuesday of the May 3 confrontation with Malik Carey.

a police squad car
Flickr user Scott Davidson/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

A controversial Grand Rapids police procedure can continue, for now. A Michigan Court of Appeals chose to not decide if the so-called P and P procedure is constitutional.

Groups brainstorming
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Elected leaders in Grand Rapids are trying to satisfy critics who say they’re not doing enough to change police policies and outcomes critics say are racially biased.

It's part of a larger effort launched after violence in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.

Mike Maycroft, left, president of the Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association; and Andy Bingel, president of the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association.
Lindsey Smith

A recent study commissioned by the city of Grand Rapids, which found that black drivers in the city are twice as likely to be pulled over as white motorists, is getting some criticism.

But Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom says the new critique doesn’t change the fact that there’s a problem. Even if the notion is hard to swallow for police officers.

Police Officer
Matthew Sutherland / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Three Grand Rapids police officers remain on paid administrative leave as state police investigate an exchange of gunfire earlier this month that left an 18-year-old probation violator dead.

Grand Rapids police Chief David Rahinsky tells The Grand Rapids Press that the department is following protocol following officer-involved shootings. He isn't commenting on details about the case until after the state police conclude their investigation.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A new study finds Grand Rapids Police are biased when it comes to pulling over drivers in the city.

A study released this week shows black drivers are twice as likely to be stopped. 

three moms at podium
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The parents of five young, unarmed black boys that Grand Rapids police held at gunpoint last month want police officers involved in the incident to apologize to their sons.

Police ordered the 12 to 14-year-olds to the ground after getting a tip that someone in a group matching their description had a gun. Grand Rapids’ police chief has apologized but said officers were following protocol.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A coalition of community groups is encouraging Grand Rapids residents to contact the city manager and police chief after a March 24th encounter between police and a group of five African American boys.

Police Officer
Matthew Sutherland / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

"Don't be afraid to call us."

That's what Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky said in a recent meeting of anxious people at the Hispanic Center of West Michigan.

The meeting addressed concerns from people who don't know how and if President Trump's immigration crackdown involves local police agencies.

MORGUEFILE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Grand Rapids Police will deploy more patrol units and plainclothes officers in targeted areas of the city this weekend as it reacts to an increase in gun violence over the last two months.

Chief David Rahinsky said Friday the initiative called Operation Safe Streets also will include foot and bicycle patrols at times and the deployment of a mobile command post.

He's asking residents to support police responding to crimes and to report crimes they see being committed.

Police Officer
Matthew Sutherland / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Back in 2004, researchers found Grand Rapids police officers did not pull black drivers over at higher rates than whites ones.

But now, the city is getting an updated study.

It’s part of a broader effort to improve relations between minority communities and GRPD in reaction to riots in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Grand Rapids outfitted all officers with body cameras last year as part of the effort.

Police Officer
Matthew Sutherland / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

It’s been a tough week for the nation. It saw numerous tragedies, such as the police shootings that killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and the shootings in Dallas that killed five police officers.

These events have heightened unrest between police and their communities, and protests were seen across the country in places like Baton Rouge, Chicago and New York City.

Sgt. Terry Dixon, the public information officer for the Grand Rapids Police Department, joined us to talk about his department's response to last week's tragedies and its effort to bring diversity into law enforcement.

morguefile

Grand Rapids saw a drop in serious crime between 2014 and 2015.

The department's annual report says violent crimes dropped 9.5%.

David Rahinsky is the Grand Rapids police chief.

He says this drop in crime is a result of the department having built trust and rapport with the community.

"I think we recognize that the issues that confront us now are not issues that we're going to arrest our way out of," Rahinsky says. "They are issues of relationships, they're issues of trust."

Grand Rapids police officer directing traffic.
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

The Grand Rapids City Commission tomorrow will vote on whether to hire an outside consultant to study if its police force is racially biased when pulling over drivers.

A similar study conducted in 2004 found no systemic bias in Grand Rapids. But after the riots in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, people who spoke at community meetings still felt racial targeting was a problem in Grand Rapids. 

That's why city leaders are recommending a second study based on more current data. 

Grand Rapids police officer directing traffic.
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Grand Rapids and three city police officers over a 2014 incident that left an unarmed teenage boy in the hospital.

taliesin / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Body cameras for Grand Rapids police officers have started coming in.

WOOD-TV and The Grand Rapids Press report that 20 officers wore the cameras Thursday night after the city received its first shipment of the equipment.

The department has ordered 298 cameras. A pilot program was held earlier this year.

A number of other Michigan departments and police agencies across the country are considering adding the cameras as a level of transparency during potential clashes with crime suspects or other members of the public.

Grand Rapids modifies its fingerprint policy

Dec 2, 2015
Alan Levine / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Grand Rapids police will no longer routinely take fingerprints from people who cannot produce identification when questioned by an officer in the field.

Police Chief David Rahinsky said under the new policy, fingerprints will be taken from people without ID when police consider their behavior suspicious.