In 1995, citizens in Grand Rapids voted on a charter amendment that increased funding for police services. The Safety 95 initiative passed, resulting in the city charter requiring that at least 32% of its general operating fund be spent on police services. In 2020, participants in the Black Lives Matter movement, along with other community leaders and members, called for funding of the Grand Rapids Police Department to be reduced or eliminated altogether. However, because of the 1995 charter amendment, the City Commission's options are limited. Any reduction below 32% of the operating budget would require the citizens of Grand Rapids to change the city charter.
This collection provides some historical context for these present conversations. It consists largely of newspaper articles relating to the ballot initiative and a few other items. While published records can help us understand previous decisions, remember that they capture only a small part of the larger conversation that took place in 1995. They do not necessarily represent the experiences or perspectives of the entire Grand Rapids community.
The following articles from June 2020 offer some context of current defunding conversations:
June 16, Some commissioners in Grand Rapids want to cut police funding, but there's a limit, Dustin Dwyer, Michigan Radio
June 16, City commissioner proposes lowering Grand Rapids Police budget, WZZM
June 17, How did a third of the City's Budget get designated to the GRPD, Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
June 25, Campaign to defund Grand Rapids police ramps up as budget deadline nears, Grand Rapids Press
June 25, Group to Grand Rapids: Cut $9M from police now, WOOD TV8