GRPD hopeful new neighborhood approach boosts community relations

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department is implementing another change that they believe will improve community-police relations by shifting from community policing to neighborhood policing. 

The idea is to go down to the neighborhood level. Officers will stay in those neighborhoods and work with businesses, churches and schools to addressing everything from crime to quality of life issues.

“When I say community policing, I think communitywide, the whole city. But we all know different neighborhoods have different needs and different desires,” Sgt. Dan Adams with the Grand Rapids Police Department said.

The tailored policing approach began Sunday. GRPD says each officer had the chance to choose the neighborhood they work in.

“It was actually kind of exciting,” Adams said. 

GRPD says you can expect to see officers spending less time in their cars and more time in the neighborhood. It’s another attempt to increase positive police interactions.

GRPD has taken a similar approach before, but Adams says he believes the results will be different this time.

“I think when we tried it in the past, it was kind of separate. We had your regular patrol officers and then you had your community specialist, and by doing that we only had a small number of officers who received that training,” Adams said.

The group called Defund the GRPD says “neighborhood policing is not a solution.”

“The Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) has a long history of violence in our neighborhoods, especially in communities of color. The new neighborhood policing model to be implemented by the GRPD will not put a stop to this violence … Police reforms are a rebranding of policing, not actual structural change in how we keep our communities safe,” Defund the GRPD told News 8 in a statement.

Defund the GRPD argues that more police in neighborhoods can be harmful to residents who may refuse community services to avoid police interactions.

GRPD remains hopeful that the change will be different.

“Bring our available resources to help be part of the conversation, not coming in and taking it over, but really becoming vested as a part of the community,” Adams said.

GRPD says the city is working to create an interactive map that shows which officers are working in neighborhoods, along with their contact information. It’s another tool aimed at improving communication between neighbors and police.

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