City leaders defend GRPD’s proposed budget for 2021-22

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and City Manager Mark Washington hosted a budget town hall Thursday, responding to the community’s questions about the budget plan for the fiscal year 2021-2022.

Many topics were discussed, but one clearly stood out: funding for the Grand Rapids Police Department.

Under the proposed budget, the department will receive around 35.8% of the city’s general fund, which is a decrease of just under 3% from last year.

However, technology upgrades and other savings will increase the department’s budget by $665,189.

The numbers mystified some, with one person asking, “How is this being responsive to the community’s request?”

The person is referring to groups like Defund the GRPD, who are calling for the police department to receive less funding.

The group wants GRPD to receive 32% of the city’s general fund — the minimum amount under the city’s charter.

Getting to the 32% mark would require a reduction of $5.6 million to the department’s budget, which would result in 50 officers losing their jobs.

“Doing that would not allow the continued deployment of the strategic plan without anything guaranteed to ensure safety of community,” Washington said.

Washington is referring to GRPD Chief Eric Payne’s plan to build community trust and reduce violence in Grand Rapids.

“I am committed to supporting the chief in that strategic plan,” Bliss said.

Bliss added that the department is making efforts to recruit officers that reflect the diverse makeup of the city.

“One of our priorities is to have our police department reflect the community we serve,” Bliss said. “If we were to reduce positions in the police department, those who would be let go would be our newest hires. That to me would counter to what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The City Commission will vote on the budget plan on May 20.

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