Report challenges need for more GRPD officers

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department needs better organization, not more cops, a new report concludes.

The study was ordered by the city after former GRPD Chief David Rahinsky told city commissioners he needed more officers to implement a better community policing plan.

>>PDF: GRPD Staffing review (Page 53)

“Our review, which includes a staffing assessment based on the data provided by the GRPD, finds that the GRPD should be able to manage the demand for daily patrol services with its existing staffing. That said, we identified several areas for potential improvement,” reads a portion of the report summary from Hillard and Heintze, the Chicago-based security risk management consulting firm hired by the city commission to conduct the staffing study.

Rahinsky, who retired in December, had argued for more officers for community policing during the last two years.

The former police chief claimed that routine calls for service didn’t allow officers to patrol neighborhoods and engage in other community policing activities.       

Rahinsky wanted to hire 12 more officers to add an evening and weekend community officer shift. That would bring the total number of officers up to 304, which is still below the national average of 1.7 officers per thousand residents. To reach the national average, Grand Rapids would need 330 officers.

The city has 100 fewer officers than it did 20 years ago.

Two years ago, Rahinsky told 24 Hour News 8 that on a busy night, GRPD has around 400 calls with some 40 officers on the street, which meant all hands on deck just to keep up with calls.

“Everyone is talking about engagement. Engagement takes time,” said Rahinsky in the 2017 interview.

But some city commissioners have argued the department has needed a new model, not more officers. The study seems to side with that opinion.

One suggestion from the report: GRPD should hire more civilian employees to take care of jobs now handled by sworn officers.

“The Detective Unit is sufficiently staffed; however, decreasing administrative burdens with civilian staff would greatly reduce workloads. Our observations identified inefficiencies within the organization, both as a matter of strategy and resource allocation, that contribute to pressure points in the delivery of police services to Grand Rapids residents,” the study concluded.

The report suggests GRPD needs a better strategic vision.

“Across the GRPD, officers are not tasked in alignment with a strategic vision, which results in inefficient use as officers are tasked based on demand inflows, rather than a guided strategic vision that outlines how and when resources are allocated,” the consulting firm stated.

The city commission will discuss the 57-page report during Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

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