Chief Eric Winstrom on Tuesday presented his initial review of the Grand Rapids Police Department and policy proposals to city commissioners, specifically noting changes to the use of force policy and talking about what he has heard community members want from their officers, WOOD TV reports. Winstrom had proposals for policy and procedures, training, deployment of resources and the police department’s role in the community.
“I’m trying to translate what the community thinks and feels into better policing,” he told commissioners. Policy changes include renaming the “use of force” policy to the “de-escalation and use of force” policy and updating its purpose to read: “To set forth Department policy regarding de-escalation, response to resistance, and use of force.” New policy language will require a verbal warning before the use of deadly force, tell officers to use deadly force only when “necessary” and require officers to give people the opportunity to comply.
GRPD is also adding a “sanctity of human life” policy, which Winstrom said is meant to remind officers in print that their top priority should be preserving human life, regardless of someone’s race, sex or gender identity, sexual orientation and other characteristics. Training on the new policies will start next week. It will also include helping officers understand the “entire history of policing,” including racial factors. It will also cover de-escalation, self-regulation, the neuroscience of stress/fear response and constitutional policing. The Office of Oversight and Public Accountability — GRPD’s watchdog — will provide training to reinforce core policy principles. The chief said meetings with the public, working with faith-based leaders and speaking with OPA left him with the assessment that the community wants a good police service. “I’ve heard from the community that they want honest police, they want police that are good at their jobs, that will be heroes when needed, that have compassion, that will listen and will treat everyone equally,” Winstrom said.