National Night Out: GRPD to focus on crime prevention

Grand Rapids

Posted: Oct 6, 2020 / 05:41 AM EDT Updated: Oct 6, 2020 / 05:42 AM EDT

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A deadly shooting in southeast Grand Rapids marks the city’s 27th homicide so far this year. It comes hours before the department’s plans for National Night Out.

Last week, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne released the department’s strategic plan to combat the violence. 

Tuesday evening, Grand Rapids police and other first responders in West Michigan area will take part in National Night Out. Police departments across the country take part in this effort to enhance relationships between law enforcement and those they serve.

Payne said relationships like this are especially important now.

“This event provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances,” Payne said in a press release. “As I detailed during the unveiling of our strategic plan (on Sept. 29), a safe community is built around community members working together to address the issues unique to their neighborhood. As we strengthen those neighborly bonds, we develop lasting relationships where trust flourishes. As neighborhoods partner with the law enforcement, they become more empowered to develop problem-oriented solutions that stand the test of time.”

The event starts at 6 p.m. at MacKay Jaycees Park along Kalamazoo Avenue between Eastern Avenue and Breton Road. Face masks will be required at the event which runs until 8 p.m. Tuesday. 

Units with the police and fire departments, Life EMS and AMR West Michigan will offer crime prevention information, truck displays, giveaways all, of course, while practicing safe socially distanced community engagement.

It fits square in line with Paynes’ strategic plan, which outlines ways the department plans to stop the violent trend and improve positive interactions with the community. GRPD says their plan has three priorities: safety, innovation and engagement.

“My goal is to ensure that community members have the ability to reach out to an officer any time they have an issue or problem,” Payne said. “The essence of community engagement is relationship building. The more entrenched these positive relationships are, the stronger our community will be.”

The safety section, police say they will be focusing on at the event, especially being a positive presence in neighborhoods, transitioning every patrol officer to a community policing specialist.