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Grand Rapids announces plan to increase transparency, communication between public and police

The Office of Oversight and Public Accountability provided an update on police reform efforts in Grand Rapids, including a strategic plan and a community event.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The City of Grand Rapids provided an update on its on police reform efforts, including a new strategic plan, an online tool for community members to provide on the plan and a community event focused on healing from trauma. 

The Office of Oversight and Public Accountability (OPA) director Brandon Davis outlined the plan and previewed an online opportunities for community members to provide feedback on it. The plan is called C.A.R.E.+, and breaks down into the following:

  • Change – OPA will help improve public safety policies and operations through innovation and collaboration.
  • Accountability – OPA will help improve individual, supervisory and organizational accountability for public safety activities through civilian oversight of all public safety operations.
  • Restorative justice – OPA will help reduce barriers to trust that have been created by systemic inequities in the criminal justice system or that cause disparate outcomes.
  • Engagement and empowerment – OPA will help enhance communication and education with the public regarding public safety matters.

Starting July 27, the community can provide feedback on the plan on the OPA's website.

Davis also announced an online event focused on processing and healing from trauma and vicarious trauma related to racism and use of force. The Aug. 12 event will feature subject matter experts and be streamed live on OPA’s Facebook starting at 6 p.m.

The OPA also plans on launching a website next month that will focus on the city's strategy for re-imagining policing in Grand Rapids. The TRUE (Transparent, Responsible, United and Equitable) Action will be a digital hub that Davis hopes will increase transparency by providing easy access to information regarding the city's police reform efforts. Visitors will be able to review budgets, memos, presentations and other information and provide feedback.

Davis and City Attorney Anita Hitchcock outlined the city’s efforts to explore a legal path for enhanced internal investigation tools. Community members have expressed a desire for the Police Civilian Appeal Board (CAB) and/or Office of Oversight and Public Accountability to have subpoena power and/or investigative authority.

Hitchcock said neither CAB nor OPA has subpoena power and/or investigative authority under state law or the city charter. She said the city’s options for enhancing internal investigation tools included:

  • Lobby the Michigan Legislature to write a law allowing such authority
  • Amend the city charter to allow CAB or OPA to have subpoena authority

View the full OPA update here.

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