GRPD union felt ‘attacked’ by 12-point plan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A police union is fighting recommendations that proponents say would increase transparency in the Grand Rapids Police Department.

City Manager Greg Sundstrom laid out a 12-point plan to improve relations between the community and GRPD last week. His recommendations included changing hiring practices to increase diversity on the force, enhancing cultural competency training for officers, implementation of body cameras, conducting studies about race in traffic stops and arrests, and mandating third-party investigations into officer-involved shootings, among other ideas.

Andy Bingel, the president of the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association, told 24 Hour News 8 Sunday he was taken back by the recommendations. Bingel said he has no problem with the plan — it’s the estimated $1.5 million price tag that’s causing his objection. He said the money could be better spent.

He claims GRPD doesn’t have a problem with community relations or racial profiling and pointed to a 2004 and 2010 independent study to support his claim.

“We felt we were being attacked by what we saw in these recommendations,” Bingel said. “I think it’s really a knee-jerk reaction to what happened in Missouri. But since Missouri, in Grand Rapids, I have run into more support from people out the community while I’m doing my job than I’ve ever seen before. If we were doing something wrong, I don’t think would be getting that type of support.”

Bingel would like to see a citizen vote on the recommendations, which are now being considered by the City Commission.

Capt. Pete McWaters, the head of GRPD’s command officer union, told 24 Hour News 8 last week that while many are “unhappy with the tone of the document,” his union will go along with its implementation.