Task Force helps shape GRPD’s new Youth Interaction Policy

Published on March 27, 2018

.jpg photo of the Youth Policy introduction at COW

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The first significant policy recommendation by the City’s Police Policy and Procedure Review Task Force is now on the books and in effect. This morning at the Committee of the Whole meeting, the Task Force’s co-chairs detailed the Grand Rapids Police Department’s (GRPD) new Youth Interactions Policy. The policy – developed by residents and police officers of every rank in consultation with 21st Century Policing and several community partners – codifies the police department’s expectation that officers use good judgement and act in the best interest of youth. 

The Task Force co-chairs, Grand Rapids Community College Associate Dean and Third Ward resident Raynard Ross and GRPD Deputy Chief Eric Payne, told the City Commission that the GRPD-drafted policy was fully vetted and unanimously approved by the Task Force. During its review of the policy, the Task Force also shared the draft with community partners such as the West Michigan branch of Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust (ALPACT), GRPD's IMPACT Youth Advisory Group and the Grand Rapids Association of Pastors for additional input. The Task Force, which began its work in August 2017, includes residents of each ward, police officers of every rank and police union representatives. 

Ross said while Task Force members understood that officers had always been allowed discretion when interacting with youth, “We felt it was very important that we put it down in writing as policy. This document codifies that expectation, establishes goals for officers to always act in the best interest of the youth they encounter and outlines several factors to consider when interacting with youth.”

Prior to implementation of this adopted policy, the GRPD did not have a freestanding youth policy. The department and Task Force melded key pieces of relevant GRPD policies and forged a singular dedicated policy to guide youth interactions. The policy also includes best practices used by police departments across the country.

Deputy Chief Payne said, by forming the policy, the police department is giving improved youth interaction the attention and support it needs, including adding scenario-based training specifically designed to prepare officers for interactions with youth.

“The men and women of our police department recognize the impact of their involvement with youth,” Deputy Chief Payne said. “While young people have the same constitutional protections as adults, all of us were reminded over the past year of the need for sensitivity and additional protective measures when we interact with children and teens. For that reason, the Grand Rapids Police Policy and Procedure Review Task Force prioritized work in this area.”

Police Chief David Rahinsky said the policy, coupled with new scenario-based training, “is intended to ensure equitable outcomes for all those we serve. It is an important next step for our department and our community. The GRPD is committed to providing professional, progressive and responsive law enforcement services to all members of our community.”

The City Commission contracted with 21st Century Policing LLC last summer to lead a yearlong review of the police department's policies and procedures to identify and eliminate racial disparities. The firm also is providing technical assistance in the input-gathering process and identifying best practices being used across the country.

The Task Force consists of the following members: Marques Beene, Janay Brower, Sonja Forte, Ed Kettle, Maria Moreno-Reyes, Huemartin Robinson, Raynard Ross, Chief Rahinsky, Deputy Chief Payne, Capt. Michael Maycroft, Lt. John Bylsma, Sgt. Jana Forner, Sgt. Dan Adams and Officer Andrew Bingel.

The Youth Interactions Policy can be found on the Grand Rapids Police Policy and Procedure Review Task Force webpage.