GRPD launches video blog to continue community outreach

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department has launched a video blog as part of its continued push for stronger community engagement.

It’s an innovative approach to keeping the conversation going with the community: informal, real and easily accessible.

GRPD Chief David Rahinsky said the department is just getting started.

When some think of police, they picture lights and sirens instead of a friendly neighborhood officer introducing themselves.

“Hi, I’m Chief David Rahinsky of the Grand Rapids Police Department,” he said in the video.

It is a different look for Rahinsky and the department.

“Showing the human side. Sometimes when we’re out on the street responding to a call handling a difficult situation it’s hard to show that side,” Rahinsky said. “When we’re in a controlled environment and we can show a little bit of our personality (and) talk a little bit about some things we want to share about ourselves it’s a great avenue.”

So far, the department has produced three monthly video blogs with Rahinsky talking about various topics. Rahinsky said he would like to change the frequency to biweekly and even include captains and others from the department in the videos.

“It’s going to give young boys and girls who are involved with the Boys & Girls Club to explore policing as a potential career,” Rahisnky said in a video blog. “So they’ll spend time with officers, they’ll tour the building, they’ll get to see what our forensics folks do.”

The topics he has discussed range from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and learning opportunities for the community to announcements about comical events.

Rahinsky said it’s important for the community to see the department as neighbors, which is why technology is important in helping reach out to a range of demographics who might not pick up a newspaper or interact with the department on a daily basis. He has been leading a push for more community engagement, holding open community office hours and taking part in several town hall-style meetings to receive public input.

“It’s huge. Any department that’s not embracing both social media and even analytics in terms of how we police communities is missing the boat,” Rahinsky said. “In the private sector, they’ve been doing it for years and years and much better than the public sector has been doing, but we’re quickly catching on.”

Within the police department, there are more plans in the works, including a full television studio and set to tape discussions with city leaders soon. Those discussions will have a similar tone to the videos with informal and honest conversations.

“For someone to read from a script or from a teleprompter, we don’t want to come across as canned or staged,” Rahinsky said. “To see us talk a little bit about what we do and what we’re passionate about, about public service. I think that’s real and people can relate to that.”

GRPD video blogs can be viewed on the city’s YouTube, Facebook or Twitter pages.