Advance Notice: Briefs

Grand Rapids police implementing de-escalation training, new policies in wake of Lyoya’s death, charges of racism

By: - July 26, 2022 11:07 am

Protest on April 12, 2022 after a GRPD officer fatally shot a 26-year-old Black man, Patrick Lyoya, in the head. | Allison R. Donahue

At a time of elevated public scrutiny, the Grand Rapids Police Department will undergo de-escalation training, improve victim support services and make the department more transparent, according to the GRPD chief. 

At a Grand Rapids City Commission’s committee meeting Tuesday, GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom presented his findings and plans based on his initial review of the GRPD’s policies and procedures, training, deployment, use of resources and the role of police in the community.

Winstrom said the policy changes include “recognition of the sanctity of life” as the department’s highest priority, implementing a de-escalation policy that includes a response to resistance and use of force, improving victim support services and working to continue to improve the overall efficiency and transparency of the department. 

“Our community has been through significant trauma over the last several years with the pandemic, and with the shooting death of Patrick Lyoya. Everyone has felt that. I have heard those who call for defunding or abolition of the Police Department and I have heard from a majority of residents and businesses that desire better police presence,” Winstrom said. “The pathway to change is through the immediate community-informed steps I outlined today and the community-engaged steps for ongoing change and reform that will come through our strategic planning process.”

Grand Rapids officer Christopher Schurr fatally shot 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya, a Black man, in the back of the head during a traffic stop in early April. Schurr was charged in June with one count of second degree murder for killing Lyoya. The police department waited three weeks after Lyoya’s death before releasing Schurr’s name. 

On Monday, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights announced it filed formal charges of discrimination against the GRPD in two separate complaints that both allege the GRPD unlawfully discriminated against the claimants by treating them unequally based on race.

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Friday that a now discontinued GRPD policy of fingerprinting and photographing two Black teenagers not charged with a crime was unconstitutional. 

Training for these new policies will begin Aug. 2 and will become effective once training is complete.

Winstrom’s presentation included an update on current crime data and the roll-out of DICE (Date Informed Community Engagement) program, which focuses resources on crime patterns in highly localized areas of the city. 

DICE is a partnership between the community and the police to brainstorm ways to solve crimes specific to that area in ways that people welcome and support and to focus enforcement efforts on crimes that most impact safety and quality of life within those areas. 

“In the face of intense public scrutiny, the men and women of GRPD continue to give a 100% effort to make Grand Rapids a safer place for everyone,” Winstrom said. “Our success will hinge not only on our efforts to provide professional, compassionate and courageous service, but on the support Grand Rapids shows its police officers.”

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.

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