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GR police union starts campaign to lobby City Officials to counter Defund the GRPD organizing

December 27, 2020

On December 23rd, the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association (GRPOA) posted this graphic on their Facebook page, shown here on the right.

The GR cop union is clearly feeling the pressure from various efforts to hold accountable the Grand Rapids Police Department, especially the organizing being done by Defund the GRPD.

Since the May 30th rebellion in Grand Rapids, the GRPD has demonstrated that they do not welcome public criticism and will go to great lengths to undermine any efforts to reduce the estimated $55 million annual budget they have. In addition, the GRPD and the GRPOA have tried to control the narratives around policing in Grand Rapids, even using the increased gun violence as a diversion from having to talk about the possibility of defunding the GRPD. 

The GRPOA also began their own billboard campaign, using Orwellian language presenting the GRPD as “peace officers.”

Now the GRPOA has their own online campaign, encouraging supporters to contact City officials, using the following biased narrative: 

“The men and women of GRPD have taken an oath to serve and protect the residents of Grand Rapids. To effectively do this, we need the city commission to support us with the resources needed to keep you safe. 2020 has been the deadliest year on record in Grand Rapids, but the commission recently turned down $500,000 in federal grants that would’ve been used to combat violence in Grand Rapids. The vote was split on accepting the money, and when they couldn’t agree on how the money should be used to reduce crime, they simply decided not to accept it. Please contact the mayor and your commissioner and urge them to allocate the necessary resources to make our Grand Rapids neighborhoods safer.”

The GRPOA narrative clearly distorts what happened with the GR City Commission vote and why their was opposition to using CARES Act funding for ShotSpotter technology. We watched that City Commission discussion/vote on November 17th and posted our own analysis of what took place. In many ways, the main reason that several commissioner gave for not supporting the CARES Act funding from the County, was because the the language of a GRPD memo, which continued to push for use of the ShotSpottter technology, plus the hundreds of messages that the Commissioners received from the community in opposition to it.

The GRPOA online campaign also has 6 different banner messages that constantly rotates. Those messages are:

  • You Have a Right to Remain Safe
  • Gun Related Killings are up 80%
  • 37 GR Homicides in 2020 – deadliest year ever
  • Reports of Gunfire up 210%
  • Attempted Murders Using a Gun up 195%
  • Gun Related Assaults up 58%

Now, none of the data provided by the cop union is accompanied by a source, which means we are all supposed to just accept these numbers on face value. More importantly, the one message that the GRPOA doesn’t have on their website, is how many acts of gun violence have been prevented by the GRPD. Such a statement doesn’t exist, because the GRPD doesn’t really prevent gun violence, they only respond to the shootings after the fact. In fact, all of the messages that the GRPOA provides on their website are misleading, since they do not ask a more fundamental question, which is – how do we create community safety in Grand Rapids.

At the very bottom of the page, there is an addition message, with an accompanying image of a jar full of bullet cartridges – Over 1600 rounds of ammunition illegally fired since May of 2020.

Lastly, it is worth noting that the list of commissioners from top to bottom, doesn’t follow an order that is ward sequential or in alphabetical order. What is instructive about the order of the commissioners listed, is that those listed on the top have been the commissioners who have been most responsive to their constituents input on policing in GR, which has meant the commissioners near the top of the list have asked questions and voted in favor of reducing the police budget and against the use of ShotSpotter technology. Apparently, the GRPOA wants people to target the commissioners who have been most open to hearing public concerns and criticisms of the GRPD.

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