Skip to content

GRPD Strategic Plan: Placates those unaffected by police violence, insults the rest of us

August 10, 2020

On Friday, the GRPD released a draft of their strategic plan. This news was announced on the City’s website, with the headline, GRPD’s strategic plan will transform policing in Grand Rapids

A PDF version of the strategic plan is 18 pages long and the draft of the new GRPD Strategic Plan for for 2021 – 2023. The Strategic Plan begins with a Letter from Chief Payne, which states early on:

Your safety is our highest priority and, with this document as our guide, we will work together to ensure all people feel safe and are safe in this city.

Such a statement from Chief Payne is simply not true. Part of the problem might be with how Chief Payne defines what it means for people to feel safe. Does the Chief mean that Black people who feel the fear and dangers of White Supremacy and White Supremacist institutions will be safe? Does the Chief mean that those who identify as Queer or Trans should feel safe and never have to worry about homophobia and transphobia, or the spiritual violence that permeates Grand Rapids? Does the Chief mean that undocumented immigrants will feel safe with the GRPD’s Strategic Plan, never having to worry about ICE agents coming to kidnap them? Does the Chief mean that families who are facing eviction from rental properties, since they can’t afford the outrageous costs of housing, since they work in low wage jobs?

Chief Payne and the GRPD have no real idea what it means to really feel safe for thousands of people in Grand Rapids. What Chief Payne means by safety is really when people comply and submit to oppression and exploitation, especially if people do not disrupt business as usual and challenge the very systems of power and oppression that keeps people from feeling safe.

On pages 3 – 4, there is a timeline that begins in 2015 and brings us to the present, following a narrative that the GRPD wants us all to believe. The timeline completely omits any of the harm that the GRPD has committed against the Black community, against immigrants, against families in poverty, against queer and trans people or against those who have resisted oppression. The timeline does include May 30th from this year, uses the language Civil Unrest and Demonstration and includes a picture of Chief Payne kneeling during a Black Lives Matter protest (shown above). This narrative says nothing about the GRPD beating people, firing weapons into crowds, arresting people for curfew violations or spying, monitoring and intimidating people who have opposed police violence.

Page 5 includes a graphic that includes “stakeholders, with exclusively law enforcement agencies and city officials in 9 of the 10 categories. Under the category of community, the GRPD lists all the ways they have “engaged” the community with programs like Speed of Trust, Coffee with Cops or the Citizen Police Academy – all of which are designed to manage public dissent in ways that the cops can control.

On page 6 of the Strategic Plan, it lists the top 10 community feedback items. However, most of this “feedback” was based on comments from programs that the GRPD or the City had complete control of. The only unfiltered feedback was from the June and July town halls and commission meetings, where people flooded the meetings with calls to Defund the GRPD. And lets not forget that this happened all digitally, since these meetings took place during the pandemic, where people could not physically demonstrate their outrage, like what we have seen at City Commission meetings in recent years.

Page 7 lists the values of the GRPD, which is laughable and infuriating at the same time. Does the GRPD really believe any of this shit?

Much of the rest of the document lays out how the GRPD will implement their strategic plan, which is essentially a regurgitation of previous plans – community policing and beat cops. There is a section called “Innovation”, which is where the GRPD plans to “partner” with mental health workers and other social service agencies, which we have previously critiqued

Page 13 has a section on police use of technology, such as unmanned ariel systems and drones. The GRPD planned to hold “community” sessions on this technology back in the Spring of 2020, but then the pandemic hit and those meetings were cancelled

A great deal more could be said about the GRPD’s new and improved strategic plan, but the reality is that the GRPD is only making mild adjustments to the way they do policing. There is no evidence that the GRPD or the City of Grand Rapids is taking any of the calls for Defunding the GRPD and the redirecting of those funds to the Black community, as a serious and urgent call from the community. This Strategic Plan from the GRPD is at best designed to placate sectors of the public that still believes in the benevolence of the police, but to those on the ground fighting against power and oppression, this document is insulting.

%d bloggers like this: