Two separate initiatives with the same goal to defund Grand Rapids Police Department

Jun 11, 2020

Participants at May 29th protest in front of the GRPD headquarters
Credit Jose Guadalupe Jimenez

There’s a growing call from groups across the country asking their local governments to defund police departments. And here in Grand Rapids there are two separate initiatives advocating for the defunding of the Grand Rapids Police Department. 

The first one comes from the Peoples Budget Grand Rapids, a group of local residents advocating for change to the allocation of funds to GRPD. 

“(We are) really hoping to get the police budget down from 38% is what its going to be for 2021 to 32%.” 

That’s Kiara Kominski, one of the organizers with Peoples Budget GR. 

For the upcoming fiscal year, about 38% of the city of Grand Rapids’ budget is allocated to GRPD but Peoples Budget GR is proposing to make that be only 32% of the budget and have the rest go to supporting services like 311,  public schools, and housing. 

The second initiative to defund GRPD comes from the group known as Together We are Safe: Bridging the Gap is proposing a complete restructuring of what public safety looks like in Grand Rapids. LaDonna Norman, one of the groups organizers, says this is a direct response to the violence against the Black community by the police. 

“I think that we can police our own community. I can’t give a dollar amount of what the police should get, or should be allowed to have, but I do question why there’s this huge need for a $54 million dollar budget with a police department who is disconnected from the Black community.” 

The upcoming fiscal year’s budget for the City of Grand Rapids was approved by City Commissioners on May 21st, but there is a possibility the budget could be ammended.