GRPD union cries foul over staffing report

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A union representing some of Grand Rapids’ police officers disagrees in part with a study that concluded the city’s police department needs better organization, not more cops.

“I absolutely believe we have reached paralysis by analysts in this city,” said Capt. Michael Maycroft, president of the Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association.

The debate started in 2017, after then-Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky told city commissioners his officers were too busy answering regular service calls to put the time in needed to walk beats and participate in an expanded community policing program.

The ranks of the GRPD have been cut by about 100 officers in the last decade. Rahinsky said he needed more officers.

City commissioners disagreed with Rahinsky and ordered the study by Chicago-based consultants Hillard and Heintze.

>>PDF: GRPD Staffing review (Page 53)

The results released Friday by the firm say the department has enough officers, but the department needs to do a better job figuring out how best to utilize them.   

“Who should be doing what work? (That’s) something we’ve got to figure out. And we agree with the study in that concept,” said GRPD Capt. Geoff Collard, vice president of the Grand Rapids Command Officers Association.

One significant conclusion from the report: officers are spending too much time answering low-priority calls — an average of about an hour per call.

The report also suggests adding more civilian personnel and finding alternative responses to low priority calls, like online reporting for people involved in incidents like non-injury vehicle crashes.

“I think everybody’s expectation is if you’re in the middle of 28th Street and get in an accident, a police officer is going to come out and take that report and help you (in the) process that needs to occur next,” said Collard.

Collard says the other part of the study focuses on what work the community wants officers to do. That’s where the union disagrees with the findings.

“That’s a community issue. And frankly, we’ve gotten to where we’re at because our understanding of what the community wants is a high level of service,” said Collard.

“When people call for police services, they want the police to come. They don’t want to be told we don’t go to that,” he added.

The report is the latest rift between city leaders and the Grand Rapids Police Department.  

While Command Officers Association leaders support some of the findings, they also expressed concern the report was made public before they could digest it and explain it to the rank and file.   

“It seems to have been rushed to get it out there,” Collard said.

Union leaders claim they were only given rough drafts of the study, and that concerns over information the union says is wrong were not addressed. 

“We’re frustrated. Frankly we’re fed up with it,” Collard said. “The city leadership has been more focused on putting us, as a department, in our place or getting us where they think they want us, versus working with us to make sure we have the best possible police department.”

No one from city hall would comment on the report Monday.

The city commission is expected to discuss the findings during its Committee of the Whole session Tuesday morning.  24 Hour News 8 will be on hand for that discussion.   

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