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Grand Rapids Police Department requests drones while several citizens voice concerns


At City Commissioners meeting, lack of trust in GRPD by many on full display

After Grand Rapids Police announced it wanted to purchase six drones for the department to use in emergency situations, several residents voiced their concerns over the idea at City Hall.

The backlash came at the Grand Rapids City Commissioners meeting Tuesday night. Prior to the public comment period, Police Chief Eric Winstrom told city officials, drones would add another level of service from the GRPD, assist the department in search and rescue operations, and assess traffic accidents quickly and from above.

“Whether you live in the Third Ward or the Second Ward,” he said, “you deserve adequate police service. And you should be expected to receive that here in the second biggest city in the state of Michigan.

However, several citizens were critical of the move and spoke against the idea, arguing the department could abuse the drones when it comes to privacy and surveillance.

Others pointed to the shooting death of Patrick Lyoya by former Grand Rapids Police Officer Christopher Schurr, arguing that the GRPD cannot be trusted when the department is facing multiple civil rights lawsuits.

Here is a resident who only identified by the first name Christian:

“You want to put more money in the hands of police officers, in the hands of that chief…If you don’t think the police department that has 20 accusations of discrimination against them is going to police drones…for some kind of discriminatory practice, you are wrong.”

Meanwhile, the next step will be for Chief Winstrom to make a formal ask for the drones at an upcoming city commissioners meeting. That date has not been set.

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