MSP celebrates opening of new facility near Grand Rapids

Kent County

WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — State Police troopers assigned to the Grand Rapids Post got a chance to show off their new home Thursday.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was on hand for the official dedication of the new Grand Rapids State Police Post, a $57 million facility located on 4 Mile Road, just north of I-96 in Walker.

“It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s a joy coming into work every day!” said Lt. Michelle Robinson, MSP’s 6th District Public Information Officer.

To understand why troopers are so happy, it helps to know where they came from.

For years 80 years, troopers worked out of the two story, New Deal-era, Work Progress Administration-built building in Rockford, where an interview room was usually an empty office, or a closet became an evidence storage room.

Troopers still got the job done.

“It just shows the resilience of the troopers to continue doing the job no matter what environment they’re put into,” said Robinson.

Troopers actually moved in in March. But access was limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The new, 155,000 square foot post has quiet and secured interview rooms for suspects and victims.

The lockers rooms are another major upgrade and carry a reminder of the dangers of the job.

Trooper Timothy O’Neil died in a motorcycle accident while on duty in 2017. His locker from the Rockford Post holds a place of prominence in one of the locker rooms. 

“It reminds us why we do what we do and to never forget why we’re here,” said Robinson. 

The regional crime lab, which covers 19 counties, is loaded with high tech equipment.

Everything from gun match technology, a DNA lab and equipment that can detect the smallest piece of evidence.

“Not only with the funds that were appropriated for the building, the legislator set aside some monies we have utilized for equipment as well,” said Detective First Lieutenant Jay Peterson, head of the Grand Rapids Forensic Laboratory. 

“We’ve been able to maximize that, add equipment in our Trace Unit, DNA, Biology Units, Firearms, Latent Prints and Controlled Substances throughout the facility,” Peterson said.

Troopers can now pull into a secured garage with suspects, instead of walking them from across the parking lot.

Even a drug suspect’s bathroom habits have been taken into consideration.

“Maybe they have narcotics put places they shouldn’t. They’re not allowed to flush the toilet. There’s no flusher,” said Robinson. 

That’s done by a trooper at a nearby console.

With all of the technology packed into the facility, the new lunch room might provide one of the most valuable efficiencies.

Before the new building brought the regional crime lab, district headquarters and Grand Rapids post troopers under one roof, no one had a place to sit down and compare notes.

“We can talk to them and say, ‘hey, you know what, I’m working on this case.’ And they may have a piece of evidence that they’re like, ‘well wait a minute, I have this that has the same MO,'” said Robinson. 

The most obvious benefit for both state police and tax payers is the efficiency the post provides when the public needs help.

“With us being in a central location, we can respond to crime scenes a lot quicker, more efficiently. The expressway is just down the street. So we can hit the expressway if we have to respond to a crash, or any other call for service,” said Robinson.

—Correction: A previous version of this story gave the wrong cost of the project. We regret the error, which has been fixed.

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