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GRPD Chief says department is prepared for more summer violence

Chief Winstrom said part of handling the expected increase in violence will be relying on community partners rather than solely police.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Following a night of multiple shootings, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom says the warmer weather brings out more violence than the rest of the year. He says more crimes typically occur in the summer, especially in northern cities, when people want to be outside, and when school is out of session. 

"Generally speaking, there's a spike in crime. it's something that we do anticipate and that we do plan for," Winstrom said. "Crime is destined to rise rise in the summer, we're going to need the police officers fully engaged and out there."

Winstrom mentioned data driven policing to best react to the rise in incidents. He plans to read patterns of incident reports - where crimes such as shootings or assaults are taking place and if other crimes seem to be related. He says this will help to determine what the best response to those patterns are. He mentioned police not always being the correct person to respond and relying on other services to handle situations when needed.

"The police department is a huge part of the public safety puzzle, but it's not the only part. Winstrom said. "reaching out to cure violence and say, Hey, what sort of social services can you bring in to these different pockets of the city that are really craving that."

Partnerships will be critical to maintain public safety as the community continues to grapple with the killing of Patrick Lyoya by Christopher Schur, a GRPD officer, on April 4th.

RELATED: Grand Rapids Police Chief confirms name of officer who shot, killed Patrick Lyoya

"I'll be blunt, morale is down," Winstrom said. "It's been a difficult couple of weeks. But just let's be honest, we're going to need the police department."

Winstrom has been on the job for two months. He has not instituted any major policy changes, but he said he's on track with the 90 day plan he created upon taking the helm at GRPD. He expects to revamp the departments use of force policy some time in the next few months.

"When you make a major change, especially in something like use of force, it's not enough just to change words on a paper of a policy and say, We're done." Winstrom said. "We're going to train the department because to be able to hold people to those standards, you have to have the training."

He's also focusing on staff retention. He doesn't believe the department is understaffed, but said he would like to see more people joining the police academy. He said within the next three months, 25 officers will become eligible for retirement. He said bringing in new officers will be a challenge, making it critical they focus on 'retaining the good officers'.

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