New GRPD chief on diversity, ‘policing smarter’

GRPD Chief David Rahinsky. (July 9, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids’ new top cop said he is ready to tackle the top issues facing the city and the department.

“Ideally, I’d like a police department that mirrors the community we serve,” Chief David Rahinsky said.

Rahinsky, who took over on Monday, said he has a plan to make the department more diverse. It’s an issue that came up again and again in community forums during the search for a new chief.

He said he wants to get into elementary and middle schools to steer kids toward a career in public service.

When pressed on whether that means the police force won’t become more diverse for decades, Rahinsky said it didn’t.

“No, it certainly won’t take that long,” he said. “It won’t limit us to try and recruit at the college level and trying to recruit military who are mustering out, trying to recruit the best talent that we can find in the area.”

Rahinsky said he plans to be open with the citizens of Grand Rapids at all times.

“It’s very easy to sit here and give a nice interview 72 hours after arriving. The challenge will come when a mistake occurs — and inevitably it will,” he said. “We’ve got a department of 300 sworn and 100 civilians. Inevitably in a city this size, there will be tragedy that we have to deal with from time to time. My goal is to make myself available and the department as transparent as we can during the good times and the bad.”

The chief also said the use of technology will help the department be able to do more with less.

“Better use of technology. Policing smarter. We now have the ability to look at where our crime trends are and know where we need to be, preferably before an issue happens, or as an issue is initially emerging,” Rahinsky said. “It’s not like it used to be, where after problems develop, that is where we put our resources. We now have the ability to identify problems in their infancy and address them with personnel. That gives us the ability to work smarter as opposed to working with more.”

Earlier in the summer, there was a brief spike in violence in downtown Grand Rapids. Rahinsky said he will send officers where they are needed and will treat all areas of the city equally.

“From my perspective, they are one in the same. Good community policing permeates an agency from the chief on down,” he said. “Downtown is obviously a special place, but so is every neighborhood in the city, and they all need to feel that they get the proper attention from the police department and that will be our objective.”

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