GRPD holds public forum amid chief research

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – The Grand Rapids Police Department begins its search for a new police chief by seeking the advice of the community.

The first of four community forums seeking comment took place Wednesday evening.

The southeastern City of Grand Rapids residents attending the forum made it clear that they want the next Chief of Police to reconsider the GRPD presence and protocols in this part of town.

“We need to stop treating our community on the southeast side as if we are in some kind of complex in Russia,” attorney Tyrone Bynum said.

Bynum represents clients in the neighborhood who he says are victims of police brutality.

“We want a police presence, but we don’t want them beating up our young black men, creating charges against them,” Bynum said.

Grace Cole, a resident participating 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 spoke about the department’s protocol during Operation Safe Neighborhoods, in which helicopters were used by police to monitor the city.

“With Operation Safe Neighborhoods where police flew helicopters into underserved communities, neighborhoods, in their statement, they said the communities had been consulted on this decision,” Cole said. “The transparency of who exactly was consulted, how many people were consulted, what areas should we consult, it was not clear.”

While most of the people attending the forum pointed out the things they thought the department needed to improve on, local business owner Johnny Brann Sr. said police needed a break, given the danger they faced. she is faced with work.

“I just don’t like to see our police being put down as a problem because there might be a small percentage that could be a problem, but not the 278 (officers) that we have now,” Brann said. “It will go down. I don’t like to see this. They risk their lives every day. They could save your life and get killed while doing so. Damn, I just want us to work with the community.

The next two forums will be held on Saturday, October 16 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The last forum will be held on Tuesday, October 19 at 6 p.m. A link to the forums can be found at grandrapidsmi.gov.

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