Grand Rapids Police Department introduces strategic plan

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Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Police Department released a draft of the department’s three-year plan to transform policing in the city.

The plan provides defined action steps with measurable outcomes using a neighborhood-based policing model that will help the Grand Rapids Police Department ensure all people feel safe and are safe at all times throughout the community. GRPD Police Chief Eric Payne formally presented the draft plan to the city commission Tuesday.

The GRPD strategic plan aligns with the overall city of Grand Rapids’ strategic plan, specifically the priority areas of safe community, governmental excellence and engaged and connected community.

The goal of the plan is to make Grand Rapids the safest midsized city and make GRPD the most trusted police department in the U.S., Payne said.

“This plan lays out a vision for reimaging policing in our community,” Payne said. “Through compassion, empathy and courage, we are driven to meet the public safety needs of our community. I am excited to present this draft of our strategic plan for fiscal years 2021 to 2023.

“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 — informed by past community feedback, studies and input from various external experts that have taken place over the past five years — identifies three strategic priorities: safety, innovation and engagement.

Safety

  • Be a positive presence in neighborhoods, respond to police calls for service and engage in collaborative problem-solving initiatives with the community. This will be done by transitioning to neighborhood-based policing that makes every patrol officer a community policing specialist who is focused on crime prevention, improving the quality of life for community members and building trust. Action steps include assigning a patrol officer on each shift to each geographic beat, ensuring beat officers collaborate with residents and neighborhood stakeholders to address neighborhood-specific crime, issues and concerns and ensuring beat officers communicate with neighborhoods prior to the deployment of proactive strategies that increase police presence in neighborhoods.
  • Create a Crime Reduction Team that is data-driven to identify and address criminal offenders. Beat officers will use crime date and community input engage in hot spot policing — targeting of small geographic areas where crime is concentrated. Action steps will include identifying the need and locations for hot spot policing and tracking date related to hot spot policing to appropriately evaluate impact.
  • Engage with the city’s oversight and public accountability and equity and engagement offices to pursue strategies that address root causes of police-related emergencies. The police department will identify funding for a collaborative approach that integrates community leaders and past offenders in violence-reduction strategies such as Cure Violence or a similar program. Action steps include identifying stakeholders to develop an implementation plan and determining the best violence-reduction model for Grand Rapids.

Innovation

  • Explore alternative responses to certain calls for service. This includes a co-response model that integrates permanent behavioral health professionals to the city’s homeless outreach team. It also includes developing and piloting a mental and behavioral health team that can co-respond to calls for services related to mental health and nonviolence substance use, among others, and developing a plan for a community assistance team comprised of non-sworn personnel who can assist and work with beat officers to address neighborhood concerns that are noncriminal and more in line with quality-of-life issues.
  • Partner with the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office to coordinate victim advocacy and restorative justice program.
  • Leverage technological opportunities to decrease crime and increase efficiency while ensuring objective and constitutional use and accountability. This includes continued evaluation of the constitutional use of unmanned aerial systems as a first responder, revisiting the effectiveness of gunfire detection technology and developing a real-time crime center with access to public space video that is actively monitored.

Engagement

  • Align engagement with neighborhood-based policing. This includes enhancing communication with residents, businesses and visitors through regular neighborhood meetings and events, social and traditional media, website and apps. The department will hire a non-sworn public information officer, collaborate with the community on the development of a communications and engagement strategy, and develop specific plans for more timely release of information and transparency related to neighborhood calls for service while still protecting the privacy of those involved.
  • The police department will provide accurate and timely data to the newly launched police metrics dashboard for community education and transparency and use data on community sentiment through surveys to constantly evaluate and improve police services while ensuring equity. The department also will add a formal structure to the police chief’s newly created advisory team so it can provide input on the department’s budget, policies, performance metrics and outcomes, among others.
  • Attract, hire and retain high-performing employees who embrace a guardian mentality and neighborhood-based policing philosophy. This includes reimagining recruiting strategies to ensure the department’s demographics are representative of the communities. The department will collaborate with the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, Urban League of West Michigan, among others, on recruiting strategies. It also will recruit within neighborhoods as part of the city’s Grow Our Own initiative.
  • All employees will be held accountable for knowing and incorporating the department’s values, vision and mission into their daily interactions with community members. Training will be provided to officers that emphasizes the guardian mindset while preparing them to be warriors when necessary.

“As we transform our policing model, we will engage community members,” Payne said. “We welcome feedback so we can adjust what we are doing to ensure we are connected to the community and policing the community the way it wants to be policed.”

Timeline for the plan’s implementation

  • Aug. 11-25 – Receive feedback on the draft plan from community members, police personnel and other stakeholders
  • Sep. 29 – Present final strategic plan and FY2020 performance management update
  • November – City staff will present an analysis of the FY2020 budget versus actual expenditures, FY2021 midyear adjustments and a FY2022 budget forecast. The city commission will discuss a FY2021 reprioritization strategy and FY2022 prioritization.
  • Dec. 15 – City Manager Mark Washington will propose any midyear budget amendments as needed.
  • February 2021 – City staff will provide a FY2021 midyear performance management update and the police department will provide its first quarterly strategic plan update.
  • Quarterly in 2021 – The police department will provide performance updates.
  • June 30, 2023 – Complete plan and report outcomes

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