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Grand Rapids budget allocating additional funding to OPA; GRPD funding decreased

The Office of Oversight and Public Accountability (OPA) would receive a substantial increase in funding to address police reform in the proposed budget.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The City of Grand Rapids released their budget for Fiscal Year 2023 Tuesday, announcing that funding in the proposed budget would go toward public safety reform.

The fiscal year begins July 1. The plan includes suggestions on how to allocate $597 million.

City Manager Mark Washington said the plan was influenced by "recent events," referencing the police shooting death of Patrick Lyoya, as well as community input. 

In Fiscal Year 2023, the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability (OPA) will receive an increase in funding, from $405,781 to $1.7 million, if approved. 

The funding would give OPA staff members a bigger role in the city's police training and policies. The plan calls for staff members to lead additional police training with a community focus and work with city residents to discuss topics like de-escalation.

The oversight of body-worn camera procurement and enforcement would also be transferred to the OPA instead of police.

In addition, the funding allows for an additional OPA staff member to be hired and outreach resources to engage the immigrant community in Grand Rapids.

“The FY2023 Preliminary Fiscal Plan represents a continuation of fiscally sustainable essential services with an acknowledgement that recent events require leaders to address urgent questions,” Washington said in a release. “Those include improving public safety, accelerating police reform, increasing investment in oversight, ensuring equitable community engagement and supporting the community’s equitable recovery and growth.” 

RELATED: Grand Rapids head of Oversight and Public accountability talks about increasing accountability in wake of Patrick Lyoya Killing

With an additional $600,000 in federal earmarks and a $250,000 grant for OPA staff capacity, the OPA would receive a 537% increase in funding for a total of $2.55 million.

The budget is also investing in other resources to improve the city's public safety. $700,000 would fund a mental health response team to work alongside police. This plan will allow mental and behavioral health experts to co-respond or lead the response when handling certain police calls.

With funding allocated to the OPA and other resources, the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) would receive a decrease in funding, from 38.6% of the General Operating Fund to 34.2%.

“Our new police chief, Eric Winstrom, will continue to evaluate ways to improve police policy, services, relationships, and safety,” Washington said. “The vacant civilian chief of staff position that the City Commission authorized for the Police Department provides an additional opportunity for the chief to hire a new non-sworn person that will provide additional community-informed leadership to the department."

Washington went on to say that Winstrom would be expected to provide plans to improve the relationship between residents and police in the coming months. 

He also said that the city has, in past years, used recent events to shape the budget and plan. For Fiscal Year 2021, much of the funding responded to hardships caused by COVID-19, Now, Fiscal Year 2023 would adapt amid social tension after Lyoya's death.

The public is encouraged to share their thoughts on the city's spending plan. All meetings discussing the plan will be streamed on the City of Grand Rapids' Facebook page and YouTube channel. Anyone wanting to comment can attend the in-person meetings.

Learn more about the proposed budget here.

A list of the budget review schedule is below.

Tuesday, May 10

  • Budget Review Workshop (10 a.m. and 1 p.m.)

Tuesday, May 17

  • City Commission Public Hearing (7 p.m.)

Tuesday, May 24

  • Budget Discussion and Deliberation (10 a.m.)
  • City Commission Adoption (7 p.m.)

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