Security tight for big weekend in GR

ArtPrize Nine, 20 Monroe Live
People line up outside 20 Monroe Live during ArtPrize Nine. (Sept. 22, 2017)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — From the venues to the intersections, expect to see a lot of Grand Rapids Police Department Blue on Friday night.

“This is a big of a weekend as we have here in Grand Rapids. And that’s not lost on the police department,” said GRPD Chief David Rahinsky.

GRPD officials said they are not going off script in reaction to the mass shooting, but the events of Las Vegas are on their minds.

“Although we’ve been doing this for nine years with ArtPrize, we’re going to take a fresh set of eyes and make sure we’re where we need to be,” Rahinsky said. “Make sure we have the manpower we want in the places that we want them.”

Uniformed officers will be at every corner near the arena.

“We don’t like to discuss tactics and techniques, but we’ll be suing everything in our repertoire to make sure anyone that comes down to ArtPrize can do so safely.”

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department mounted and traffic divisions will also be on hand.

What you may not see is the GRPD’s Special Response Team, commonly known as SWAT, hidden away on roof tops and other locations.

They have been used in the past during big events and will be in full force Friday night.

But the reason you probably won’t notice the more heavily armed officers is more than a tactical move.

“We don’t want to be present to the point where people are thinking about police presence as opposed to thinking about what a great weekend it is,” Rahinsky said.

Private security groups at venues, like 20 Monroe live and Van Andel Arena have also been in on the planning for Friday.

GRPD isn’t providing numbers on their downtown force, but they say they are confident they will have all the right people in all the right places.

Still, Rahinsky says “See Something, Say Something” is also an important part of the effort.

“Public safety is a community endeavor, so we’re relying on the help of the people who will be at the event as well,” he said.