(pages B1 and B3, a special paid advertising supplement to WeAreGR, February 2016)
In just a year’s time, Grand Rapids has taken great strides in transforming the relationship between the Grand Rapids Police Department and the community.
City Manager Greg Sundstrom recently presented a status report to the City of Grand Rapids City Commission on the status of his Community and Police Relations Recommendations (originally presented in January 2015) showing that the majority of items have been implemented or in progress. The 12 far reaching and proactive recommendations were developed through the input of various residents, community groups, the City Commission, Chief of Police David Rahinsky, police department employees and City staff. City Manager Greg Sundstrom’s recommendations contain 12 specific suggestions to enhance professional relationships and build trust between the community and its police force.
A brief status report of each recommendation follows:
Recommendation 1 – Calls for the City to review all police and fire hiring practices to ensure a diverse workforce.
The City Commission believed that this very first recommendation was so important, that it expanded to recommendation to review all City-wide hiring practices. A Human Resources Review Team, comprised of a cross-section of community leaders with expertise in human resources and professional recruiting, submitted a detailed report on ways the City can strengthen its hiring practices. The recommendations will now be enacted by the Human Resources Department. A sub-set of the Human Resources Review Team will also evolve and serve as an accountability study group to ensure that the City proceeds on the recommendations, developed a strategic plan with a timeline and makes progress on implementation.
Recommendation 2 – Strengthens the connection between the community and Police Department by reorganizing the Police Department to create additional opportunities for the Police Chief and service area Police Captains to regularly engage with citizens and schedule regular office hours and community meetings in their service area. The recommendation calls for the City to add additional Community Police Officers to provide expanded days and hours of service in neighborhoods across the City. It also encourages a partnership with the Community Relations Commission to improve communications and promote the transparency of their operations.
Reorganization of the Police Department is completed and has created additional opportunities for the Police Chief and service area Police Captains to regularly engage with citizens and schedule regular office hours and community meetings in their service area. In the present budget two Community Police Officers were added.
Recommendation 3 – Requires that the City’s Human Resources Department and Diversity and Inclusion should work with the Police Department to provide mandatory Cultural Competence Training and mandatory Implicit Bias Training for all police officers.
STATUS: In Progress
The Proposals for Implicit Bias Training have been received and will be reviewed by a Community/Police team to make a final recommendation to the City Manager regarding the proposed trainer. Recommendation is scheduled for February.
Recommendation 4 – Requires the Police Department to distribute and promote its Police Department to distribute and promote its Police Department Strategic Plan, currently being prepared, and develop a plan that provides a framework for implementing recommendations from the manager’s 12 recommendations to strengthen community and police relations.
The Department undertook an organizational review to identify its strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities for improvement. This internal departmental plan has been completed and disseminated to City leadership and police department personnel.
Recommendation 5 – Calls for the City to commence the phased implementation of body cameras for Police Officers.
The first Body Worn Cameras were deployed by the Grand Rapids Police Department in December. The remaining cameras will arrive in February and distributed to all sworn-personnel for use.
Recommendation 6 – Requires that the department develop protocols for the use of body cameras. The policy includes: data retention schedules, protections for citizens’ privacy, and access to the data.
Chief Rahinsky has publicly detailed administrative protocols for the use of body cameras. The policy includes data retentions schedules, protections for citizens’ privacy, and access to the data. City of Grand Rapids Administrative Policy 15-01 was signed by the City Manager on March 10.
Recommendation 7 – Requires that the City retain a consultant to review disparities in Grand Rapids Police Department arrest rates.
STATUS: In Progress
The City has committed to hiring a consultant that will conduct an independent study of the disparity of arrests of minority citizens in the City of Grand Rapids. A project team is assembled and is beginning the Request for Proposal process. The Study shall include a qualitative analysis of citizen and police officer interactions, to better understand if there is a disparity in treatment.
Recommendation 8 – Requires that the City retain a consultant to conduct a Race-Based Review of Traffic Stops by the Grand Rapids Police Department.
STATUS: In Progress
The City has committed to hiring a consultant to follow-up on the racial profiling stop study that was conducted in 2004. Discussion has taken place with the consultant who conducted the original study. The GRPD is presently reviewing data from the original 2004 study to determine an appropriate update method.
Recommendation 9 – To ensure that the entire Grand Rapids municipal operation is following approved procedures, Recommendation 9 calls for the City to work with the Community Relations Commission to review the City’s diversity and inclusion policies and practices.
The City’s Community Relations Commission reviewed all 30 of Grand Rapids’ diversity and inclusion policies in August. The City Commission in August voted on a series of revisions to a number of City ordinances, and Administrative and City Commission policies.
Recommendation 10 – Requires that the City develop an Acquisition and Use of Surveillance Equipment Administrative Policy to protect citizen privacy in balance with the increased use of new surveillance technology.
The City has developed an Acquisition and Use of Surveillance Equipment administrative policy to protect citizen privacy in balance with the increased use of new surveillance technology. City of Grand Rapids Administrative Policy 15-03 was signed by the City Manager on March 24.
Recommendation 11 – The City Manager and Police Chief shall develop protocols that would require an outside police agency to investigate any Grand Rapids Police Office involved shooting. An independent investigation, in addition to the work of the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unity and the City’s Labor Relations Office, should provide the Civilian Appeals Board with complete and independent information to permit them to properly review citizen allegations.
City Manager Greg Sundstrom enacted this recommendation by signature on March 23. Administrative Policy 15-02 stipulates that GRPD office involved shootings shall be referred to the Michigan State Police for investigation.
Recommendation 12 – Suggests that the City Commission provide a significant public education campaign to communicate to all citizens about their right to use the Civilian Appeals Board and work to ensure that all citizens are aware of the rights and protections provided by the internal investigative process and the Civilian Appeals Board.
STATUS: Complete and Ongoing
The City’s Fall 2015 edition of We Are GR contained an article promoting Internal Affairs and Civilian Appeals Board, detailing the process to report alleged occurrences of police misconduct. This message has also been and will continue to be promoted via social media.
The Department continues to report the outcomes of all appeals and is distributing brochures to citizens who might have an unfavorable interaction with an officer to communicate their rights and protections.
All 12 recommendations made by the City manager were a pro-active response to community perceptions of the department that were expressed following tragic events that took place throughout the United States. Those national events hit home with some Grand Rapids citizens and prompted conversation regarding strengthening community and police relations here in Grand Rapids and provided another opportunity to enhance departmental operations.
The complete City of Grand Rapids Community and Police Relations Recommendations Report can be found online at: http://grcity.us/Pages/Community-and-police-relations-12-point-recommendations.aspx