GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids city manager has issued an administrative order for the police department to provide weekly internal affairs records to the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability.
OPA says the Grand Rapids Police Department has not provided them with several internal affairs files concerning the department when requested. OPA says it hasn’t been able to obtain documents on cases that allege violations of both law and privacy.
“The Grand Rapids Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit will provide on a weekly basis to the Office of Oversight and Public Accountably a summary report of the complaints received by the Internal Affairs Unit during the preceding week,” the order says.
This administrative order went into effect on Wednesday.
Stating a viral video showing a confrontation between three men and Grand Rapids police officers, OPA says it cannot function if GRPD continues to withhold information from them.
OPA said it recently learned of the March 26 incident through social media then from GRPD in a media release. OPA called the incident “concerning” and said it has made several requests to obtain documents, but the department has not released any.
“OPA will continue to push GRPD to stand behind the values stated in their strategic plan and fully embrace accountability by providing OPA with lawful access to evidence and information,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
In a Friday response posted to Facebook, GRPD Chief Eric Payne said his department values the OPA and has devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to the program.
“What has been overlooked is that there are numerous state and federal laws that govern the documentation, storage, retention and sharing of police information,” Payne wrote. “In addition, the agency’s professional staff responsible for generating, redacting and distributing records are already understaffed and overtaxed.”
He went on to say GRPD was committed to transparency.
“The department hopes that under this new policy, additional administrative resources will be provided in order to satisfy records requests in a reasonable time frame,” Payne said.
OPA says it will continue to seek files and evidence associated with the March 26 case but cannot guarantee it will have access.