In an effort to gain a young adult’s perspective, Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky has launched a new advisory council made up of area youths. The council is called "IMPACT," and will give area high schoolers a chance to voice their opinions and advise Chief Rahinsky on current police issues.
“The goal here is multi-faceted, so first and foremost we want feedback from the young people in our community in terms of ‘how are we doing’ how they perceive the police department, what we are doing well, what we can do better," Rahinsky said. "The long term goal is to identify young people in our community with maybe a heart for service who maybe wouldn’t have considered a career in public service to maybe join us in the GRPD or the sheriff’s office, or any one of the plethora of law enforcement agencies that serve West Michigan.”
The Grand Rapids Police Department came under public scrutiny last April after an independent traffic report found city police were twice as likely to pull over black drivers as they were non-black drivers. Just days after that, a footage showing Grand Rapids Police officers ordering 5 African-American youths to the ground at gunpoint went viral on YouTube and was picked up by the national media.
The GRPD responded by holding a series of listening sessions with the community, and hiring an independent task force to review the departments Policies and Procedures. Chief Rahinsky says, the IMPACT youth advisory committee is another way to open up those lines of communication, especially to youths who may not trust law enforcement.
“We would very much like to see young people who have real concerns about police departments in general and even GRPD specifically to be part of this," Rahinsky said. "I really want to hear from people who say there is opportunity for improvement. To hear from our critics is really what is going to at the end of the day make us a better police department.”
According to the City of Grand Rapids, the IMPACT youth advisory council will meet once a month and transportation will be provided for those needing accommodations.