GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A security risk firm conducted a months-long study assessing the Grand Rapids Police Department's current staff, and found that the department needs to allocate resources better.
Hillard Heintz LLC, will present the findings of their 58-page study "GRPD - A Strategic Review of the Department's Staffing" at Tuesday's 9:30 a.m. city commission meeting.
The study was conducted after former GRPD Chief David Rahinsky requested funding for more officers, in order to better engage with the community. City leaders signed off on the nearly $100,000 study last fall, in order to determine if additional staffing was necessary.
“GRPD should be able to manage the demand for daily patrol services with its existing staffing," the Hillard Heintze team wrote in part.
The group acknowledged the increasing pressures put on police at the national level, but wrote that given the number of calls received by the department, their current staff should suffice.
USE OF RESOURCES
“The department spends a great deal of time and resources on calls that could be handled by others including parking enforcement, false alarms and minor traffic crashes," the report reads.
The firm said throughout their site visits and interviews with officers, they determined that many sworn officers conducted tasks that could otherwise be fulfilled by civilian staffers, or reported through a web-based system.
"GRPD’s focus on calls for service has resulted in inconsistent responses to crime. For example, police officers are dispatched to calls for service regarding a parking complaint, while crime victims are ordered into the station during business hours to meet with a detective to ensure that their cases progress toward investigation."
Much of the report calls for a shift in priorities. The firm noted the "unique process" in which victims are requested to report in-person to the police department in order to have their case further investigated. However, it is acknowledged that this process does not typically apply to domestic violence cases, one of the most frequently received calls by GRPD.
The firm expressed concerns over the current schedules of detectives, who they say, typically do not work weekends.
“Grand Rapids is the second largest municipality in Michigan, but it has no evening investigative support, absent call outs for specific types of crimes. No detectives work weekends when volume increases in patrol. Half the unit is off on Friday, creating pressures ahead of the weekend. On Mondays, two days worth of arrests and reports greet the officers as they start their work week.”
The Hillard Heintz team also called the tendency of officers to call for back-up to officers outside of their patrol area, a "resource drain."
The firm warned of the more than 80 officers who will become eligible for retirement within the next two years. Currently, 127 of GRPD's 297 sworn officers have worked at the department for 20 years or more.
"Without a good succession plan, the GRPD may face the loss of significant skills and leadership capacity."
The study reads that the overall morale of the department is strong, despite some fatigue and feelings of lacking support on behalf of city leaders.
“The commitment and professionalism of the GRPD personnel was evident during this assessment.”
LACK OF OVERSIGHT
The study makes mention of several areas in which there is little to no oversight, including within the records unit and the community policing unit.
“Officers are often left to their own determination of how to approach their role, with minimal oversight," the firm wrote regarding the community policing unit.
While data is collected by the department, the firm found that it is not used efficiently.
"Sergeants do not routinely review submitted case reports or body-worn camera video, which are tasks performed by sergeant in other agencies."
The firm advised that the study be used as a roadmap by GRPD's new chief, once one is selected.
Neither the Grand Rapids Police Department or Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington were available to comment on the study's findings ahead of the commission meeting.
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