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Independent report says GRPD doesn’t need more cops, but more efficiency

April 9, 2019

A Chicago-based firm Hillard-Heintze, LLC, presented their findings at the Grand Rapids City Commission Tuesday morning. Hillard-Heintze, LLC, was hired by the city to provided an assessment of whether or not the GRPD needed to hire more officers, which the department has been arguing for years. The report cost taxpayers just short of $100,000.

According to their website

Hillard Heintze is one of the leading security risk management firms in the world. We are trusted around the globe to deliver innovative, prevention-oriented advisory solutions that help our clients improve performance and outcomes in protecting what matters: their people, performance, interests and reputation. Since our inception in 2004, more than 85 Fortune-ranked enterprises, 150 of the world’s most affluent families and 500 U.S. and international brands have gained insight, assurance and confidence through our services – and are better managing security risk.

The CEO and co-founder, Arnette Heintze, has decades of experience in law enforcement and used to work for the US Secret Service as security details for George & Barbara Bush and Bill & Hillary Clinton.

If one spends any time on Hillard Heintze’s website, you can clearly see that they are a pro-law enforcement agency that has a great deal of respect for police and other security agents. They have a blog, which shares regular insights and opinions about law enforcement, such as their recent piece entitled, 5 Major Law Enforcement Trends That Will Shape 2019.

The Report produced by Hillard Heintze can be viewed within the April 9, GR City Commission meeting of the Whole document, linked here. The report begins on page 53 and runs through page 110.

According to the firm of Hillard Heintze, they were contracted to review and assess the following.

  • Current operational, administrative and investigative components to ensure alignment, efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Current civilian staffing assignments, including classifications for appropriate personnel allocation, excluding dispatch assignments.
  • Current patrol assignments for appropriate staffing levels as based on relevant computer-aided dispatch (CAD) data and other organizational priorities.
  • Current policies and practices regarding employee stress, fatigue, overtime and succession planning.

In the letter that the CEO of Hillard Heintze LLC sent to acting Chief David Kiddle, Heintze states:

The GRPD is at an important juncture as your City continues its search for a new Chief. The budget and staffing decisions of the past continue to impact the department’s ongoing success, particularly as it seeks to address succession planning and effective allocation of resources. Our analysis has found that while sworn staffing is sufficient to meet current demand, limited administrative support and the absence of usable of data to direct resource allocation contributes to the pressures felt by officers and managers within the GRPD. Our observations and analysis identify that providing more support through increased administrative staffing will allow officers to engage in the proactive policing activities.

In many ways the report is tedious, with lots of details about work schedules and operational practices. However, the report does provide some very useful information about what the GRPD spends most of their time on.

The report states that, “most calls are not for emergency police services, such as immediate physical danger, but rather are service oriented. Seventy percent of calls for service in 2018 were categorized as “low priority.” For example, the most common calls for service included 4,982 for property damage-only traffic crashes and 4,050 calls for burglar alarms, most of which are false. On average, officers spend almost an hour on scene resolving calls for service, so a significant amount of patrol time is spent addressing non-emergency calls. This evolving demand for a variety of services from law enforcement is a trend that we see nationally, and many communities continue to struggle with identifying what, when and how they want police services delivered. This is of concern for many municipalities as police budgets are often the largest component of municipal expenditures.”

You can also see from graphic, the numerical breakdown of why people are calling the GRPD.

Based on this data, most of the calls the GRPD receives are non-emergency and low priority calls, often responding to traffic accidents and burglar alarms. The report recommends that more civilian staff could take care of more of the non-emergency calls to allow the GRPD officers to attend to other matters.

The Grand Rapids Police union has already responded to the report and has expressed frustration with the city officials who have already made the study public. This response from the police union is not surprising, considering that they have been antagonistic towards city officials in recent years over growing concerns and demands from the community over police brutality, specifically in communities of color.

The report does provide a list of recommendations on the last two pages of the report. Those recommendations are primarily organizational in focus and less on procedure.

While this report provides some useful information and data on the GRPD, it doesn’t address more pressing issues such as:

  • How much of the City’s budget is consumed by the GRPD
  • Recent examples of Police brutality, specifically within black and latino/latinx neighborhoods
  • GRPD cooperation with Immigration Customs & Enforcement (ICE)
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