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Despite the local news headlines, the GRPD will NOT be reducing the number of cops in the proposed 2023 City Budget

May 3, 2022

Earlier today, some of the headlines read, Co-response team with police, mental health workers part of Grand Rapids budget, Grand Rapids budget allocating additional funding to OPA; GRPD funding decreased, and Budget shifts some GRPD money to Oversight, other offices. 

Some might suggest, as several of the Grand Rapids-based news agencies do, that the so-called reduction in funding for the GRPD is a direct result of the GRPD killing of Patrick Lyoya, which happened exactly one month ago. However, people who are doing boots on the ground organizing and resistance to GRPD practices are not buying any of it.

What the City of Grand Rapids is doing is playing chess with the proposed 2023 budget, by moving a measly $130,000 from the GRPD to other offices, such as the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability, which will be responsible for the police department’s body camera program. 

In addition, the GRPD will be increasing their partnership with mental health workers, which is a bad idea to have cops – who escalate situations, along with the fact that they are heavily armed and will use deadly force when they feel threatened. Having GRPD cops partner with social workers, mental health workers or with the unhoused community is not only a disastrous idea, it is simply a PR move to make us think that there is real change happening around policing in Grand Rapids. As the father of the Public Relations industry, Edward Bernays, once said – “The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest.”

In the channel 8 story, Police Chief Winstrom admitted that there will be no police cuts, including no reduction in police officers.  This means that the same number of cops will still be disproportionately patrolling in neighborhoods where there are higher levels of poverty, along with neighborhoods that are mostly Black and Latinx residents. 

The proposed 2023 Grand Rapids City Budget, particularly as it related to GRPD funding, is nothing more than a sick joke, a deception, and it is an insult to the memory of Patrick Lyoya. 

Mark Washington can attempt to play parlor games all he wants with public money, but we will resist it and call for a real Defunding of the GRPD with the reduced GRPD funds to go directly to Black and Brown communities, communities that are most affected by policing in Grand Rapids.

The City of Grand Rapids did send out a Press Release, which lists the schedule for the 2023 City Budget:

Tuesday, May 10    Budget Review Workshop (COW 10 a.m.)

Tuesday, May 10    Budget Review Workshop (1 p.m.)

Tuesday, May 17    City Commission Public Hearing (Budget and Fees) (7 p.m.)

Tuesday, May 24    Budget Discussion and Deliberation (COW 10 a.m.)

Tuesday, May 24    City Commission Adoption (7 p.m.)

This means they will decide in three weeks how to spend our collective money, with only one public hearing on May 17th. Again, this process is a cruel joke that needs to be resisted by any means necessary. It is worth noting that the group DeFund the GRPD made some clear demands last year during the very brief budget process, demands which are relevant for today, which you can read here.

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