GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department is beginning its search for a new police chief by seeking community input.
The first of four community forums seeking input was held Wednesday evening.
Residents from Grand Rapids’ southeast side of the city taking part in the forum made their point clear: They want the next police chief to reconsider GRPD’s presence and protocols in that part of town.
“We need to stop having our community on southeast side treated like we’re in some sort of compound in Russia,” said attorney Tyrone Bynum.
Bynum represents clients from the neighborhood who he says are victims of police brutality.
“We do want police presence, but we don’t want them beating up on our young black men, creating charges against them,” Bynum said.
Grace Cole, a resident taking part in the forum, says the next chief needs to respond to complaints from community members and the department needs to be more transparent.
Cole specifically talked about the department’s protocol during Operation Safe Neighborhoods, in which helicopters were used by police to keep surveillance of the city.
“With Operation Safe Neighborhoods where the police flew helicopters in underserved communities, neighborhoods, in their statement they said that communities were consulted on this decision,” Cole said. “The transparency of who exactly was consulted, how many people were consulted, what areas should we consult, that was made unclear.”
While most of the people taking part in the forum pointed out things they felt the department needs to improve, local businessowner Johnny Brann Sr. says police need to be given a break, considering the danger they face on the job.
“I just don’t like to see our police being bashed like a whole problem because there might be a small percentage that might be a problem but not the 278 (officers) that we have now,” Brann said. “It’s going to go down. I just don’t like to see that. They risk their lives every day. They could save your life and get killed doing it. Gee whiz, I just want us to work together with the community.”
The next two forums will be held on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The final forum will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. A link to the forums can be found at grandrapidsmi.gov.