GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids police are increasing patrols downtown following an increase in violence in the Arena district.
The City of Grand Rapids released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
In response to the recent and highly unusual shooting incidents on June 15 and June 18 in the downtown area, Grand Rapids City and business leaders are taking several steps to address the safety of downtown residents, workers, and visitors.
Effective June 18, the Grand Rapids Police Department has increased patrols in the Ionia SW corridor and surrounding areas. Additionally, the Police Department will redouble efforts to enforce existing City curfew ordinances for minors. The Department has also established rewards through Silent Observer for information leading to the resolution of these two incidents.
"We take violent crime very seriously, no matter where it happens in our City," said Interim Grand Rapids Police Chief Dan Savage. Serious crimes are down by one-third over the last decade throughout the city, including downtown, and we are working to bring it down even more. "The downtown area has one of the lowest incidents of crime in the entire city, and we will take all necessary steps to ensure that our residents, workers, and visitors continue to enjoy a safe experience in our downtown."
These steps come at a time when the City is already boosting efforts to address incidents of violent crime in the City. Mayor George Heartwell appointed City Commissioner Senita Lenear to lead the Safe Neighborhoods Task Force, a group of citizens that will focus on the problem of youth gun violence and improve crime prevention in our City neighborhoods. The Police Department has hired ten officers to coordinate efforts with the task force and address the issue of youth gun violence.
"We strive to provide a safe environment for all residents throughout the City", said Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom. "Our downtown area is the business hub and entertainment destination for the region and it is critically important to take these steps to make sure everyone feels safe and welcome in our City."
The Police Department will also work closely with business and community groups including the Arena District and Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. to improve awareness and reporting of any unusual or suspicious activity.
"The people of Grand Rapids have a strong history of working together, and we all have a responsibility in this effort," said Kris Larson, President and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. "We look forward to continuing our work with City, police and business leaders to find effective solutions to help maintain our safe and vibrant downtown district."