GRPD sees surge in 311 calls during stay at home order

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The City of Grand Rapids says the number of calls regarding the stay at home order to 311, the non-emergency line, more than doubled from March to April. 

The non-emergency line is used to reach the city for various things, including complaints about littering, illegal dumping and parking. After police began receiving calls about illegal gatherings or nonessential businesses continuing to run during the COVID-19 pandemic, they asked people to forward their calls to 311. 

“We get all kinds of different observations or complaints like is this business—a lot of them are questions— is this business considered essential? Or my business is open but I’m not sure if I’m comfortable going to work,” said Sgt. Dan Adams with Grand Rapids Police Department. 

The city says in March they received 62 calls regarding the stay at home order. In April, they received 153 calls. 

Adams says they believe the uptick in calls is due to people being more concerned about their neighbors and potential spread of COVID-19, not more people holding illegal gatherings. 

GRPD says they haven’t written a single ticket for people or businesses violating the order. 

“It’s been our position from the get-go to utilize an educational response as our primary response when there are concerns of a violation of any part of the executive order,” said Adams. 

He says over the last several weeks, the department has taken a more passive approach to policing as they work to protect officers from the virus. They say if large illegal gatherings became an issue, they would not be opposed to enforcing punishment on those who grossly violate the executive order.  

“Technically, violating an executive order by the governor is a misdemeanor so it’s an arrest worthy offense. It can be a ticket but thankfully we haven’t had to get to that in any of the calls we’ve responded to and hopefully we won’t have to,” said Adams. 

Police and the city of Grand Rapids are encouraging people to continue calling 311 if you believe there is a business open that shouldn’t be or large parties in their area.