It is the first time the public was invited in to see the Grand Rapids Police headquarters since the department moved in 16 years ago.

Wednesday the GRPD hosted an open house at their downtown location. Officers demonstrated some of their tactics, introduced a K-9 officer guests could pet and offered free refreshments donated by local businesses.

“I think it’s great,” said visitor Amy Dine. “It is bringing lots of awareness and my kids are having a blast.”

Organizers of the open house say it is part of the department’s ongoing effort to make a more positive connection with the people.

“We have never done this before,” explains Officer Dan Adams. “We want to introduce the community to the department. To the men and women that work for them on a daily basis.”

GRPD also wants the public to know about the various programs offered and funded by the Grand Rapids Police Foundation. How people can participate, volunteer and donate.

“Mostly youth related initiatives,” says Grand Rapids Police Foundation chairman Brad Ditmar. “Really reaching out to the youth of the community to improve relations.”

Although they are particularly trying to involve young people the police department says there are programs and opportunities for all ages. They say they also welcome donations from corporations and individuals to help sustain and grow their community activities.

“I’m getting a lot of information,” said visitor Shawana Gant, who is considering a criminal justice career. “It is good information.”

“Lots of information plus free food,” added Nathan Iacopelli. “Can’t beat that.”

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