Clergy on Patrol

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Clergy on Patrol is a partnership between the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) and local clergy of different congregations and faith traditions to help build trust and positive interactions between the police and the neighborhood they serve. Clergy members volunteer their time to go along with patrol officers during calls for service, to attend neighborhood events and meetings along with officers, and to introduce patrol officers within the faith community. Our current volunteers come from a variety of faith communities, areas of the city, genders, and races and we are grateful for those who feel called to serve in this way.


"The Clergy on Patrol program provides an opportunity to enhance public safety initiatives as a means of accountability, partnership, and service to help make Grand Rapids Michigan one of the safest cities in the Midwest. We believe that by working together the spiritual and the secular worlds can build a collaborative effort to cause harmony and peace that we haven't witnessed in a while."

~ Pastor Willie Gholston
First Community A.M.E. Church


Our GRPD 2020-2023 Strategic Plan prioritizes community engagement. Years ago, we had a similar program in place. Updating and relaunching this program is one of a number of efforts to build trust, create relationships, listen to, and promote better outcomes within the community we serve.

Our vision for Grand Rapids is to be the safest mid-sized city with the most trusted police department in the United States. We can't achieve this on our own. Active community participation is essential. Members of the community are much more familiar with what is going on in their own neighborhood. 

The leadership and trust clergy members have within their faith communities:

  • helps build bridges between police and residents
  • de-escalates certain situations (if it is safe to do so)
  • provides an alternative for people who may not be comfortable talking with police about crimes in their neighborhoods. 

Ultimately, this program is designed to help everyone feel safe and be safe in our community.

GRPD 2021-2023 Strategic Plan

Clergy members don't participate in any law enforcement activities. Instead, they learn about the different types of training officers go through. This helps members of clergy prepare for the police operations they may observe.

They're not armed but are required to wear body-armor vests. This is a requirement of any civilian who joins an officer on duty . They also undergo a background check and agree not to share anything they see or hear that could affect the right to due process and to protect the personal information of crime victims they may encounter.

Clergy members are paired with a patrol officer. As a team, they set a schedule for ride alongs, meetings, and other community engagement activities.

Request to be on waiting list by contacting Captain Terry Dixon ( We'll contact you when spots become available as we continue to grow the program.

Working with clergy members is only one way GRPD is building better relationships, increasing communication, reducing crime, and improving the safety of our city. We are also working with mental health professionals, youth organizations, neighborhood associations, and other community-based groups in a variety of ways. Take a look at these examples of other ways we partner with our community. 

Citizen Police Academy

Ever wonder what it's like to be a Police Officer? In our Citizen Police Academy program you'll get a peak at what our job is like.

Youth Programs

We offer programs specifically designed for children and young adults. If your child is interested in learning about what we do, they have a couple options.