Public Safety

We’re excited to be taking a broader approach to public safety. You’ll still find many of the traditional resources here on this page. In addition, we want to cover issues like traffic and public health – not just COVID but also the community identified priorities from the Kent County Community Health Needs Assessment:

Traffic

It often feels like the traffic in our neighborhood moves too fast! We recently helped Fairview and Coit Avenues apply for the City’s Traffic Calming Program. Fairview did not meet their criteria for intervention, but Coit did. We’re excited to see what changes can be made to make Coit safer for pedestrians. We’ll clarify in 2022 how we plan to support neighbors in requesting these evaluations in the future. Here are some basics on the City’s program:

Step 1: A successful petition.
Step 2: A traffic calming application with supporting petitions.
Step 3: Traffic Safety assesses the situation – volume, speed, crash history, etc.
Step 4: We learn the results and find out what they recommend.

Initial options are geared towards education/enforcement – neighborhood awareness programs, selective police patrols, speed boards. These tools are tried before any engineering considerations.

If changing the feel of the road for drivers is needed, Traffic Safety will recommend a specific improvement. Based on their expertise, they’ll choose from a variety of tools. Bulb outs are really popular these days (see image below). They’re curb extensions at crosswalks that narrow a street by extending the sidewalk or widening the planting strip. This method also makes pedestrian crossings shorter and safer and protects parked cars. Another resident approval step with 60% response is required to move to installation.

Bulb outs extend the curb around the crosswalk, narrowing the driving lane and encouraging drivers to move more slowly and cautiously

Crime
The three most common crimes in our neighborhood are Vandalism, Aggravated Assault, and Larceny from Vehicles. We’ve also seen high increases in the rate of Shootings, Motor Vehicle Theft, and Larceny. Typically, our best tools are preventive:

  • Vandalism: An exception, our best action is a swift correction. For example, you can report graffiti on public property (street signs, etc.) by dialing 311 or using the City’s mobile app,
    “grcity 311”. Quick clean up shows the area is well cared for and should not be disturbed again.
  • Aggravated Assault: A standard list of safety tips – walk in a lighted area, carry your phone, walk with a friend – and more. About half the assaults here are domestic – visit the YWCA site to learn more.
  • Larceny from Vehicles (and Motor Vehicle Theft):  Hide  (or  better  yet  remove  your  valuables),  lock  your  car,  and take  your  keys  with  you!#9pm routine. At 9 pm, is your car door locked? Valuables removed? Garage closed and locked? Home doors closed and locked? Porch lights on? Make this your routine every night.

Son las 9. Estan sus puertas cerradas de su carro? Objetos de valor retirados de su carro? puertas de su garaje cerradas y laqueadas? puertas de su casa cerradas y lacqueadas? luces del porche prendidas? Haga esto su rutina cada noche.

  • Shootings: Learn the difference between gunshots and fireworks:

We’re so glad to welcome Cure Violence to Grand Rapids, housed at the Grand Rapids Urban League. In 2022 they’ll be focusing on the area around Franklin and Eastern.

Cure Violence is a public health approach for ending violence. It’s being used in major metropolitan areas throughout the US and across the globe. They focus on reducing violence by treating it as a health issue that transmits and spreads like a contagion. They use disease control and behavior change methods.

Has Cure Violence been successful elsewhere? Yes! Cure Violence has been shown to be effective globally across multiple cities. They led to a 63% decrease in shootings in New York City. In Chicago they saw a 48% decrease in shootings within the first week of the program. Across all US partners, there has been up to a 73% decrease in shootings and killings.  Their written presentation to the city commission can be found here on pages 278-307. The video of the presentation can be found here.

Before calling the police, ask yourself: Is it a temporary inconvenience? Can I handle this on my own? Is there non-police assistance that could help you? Can you use mediation or an emergency response hotline? Several alternate resources are listed.

Still Need to Call the Police?
Make sure the City’s law enforcement professionals are able to track real trends by contacting the right line at GRPD:

  • 911 – Emergency for a crime in progress, medical emergency, fire, something dangerous about to happen, or someone fleeing from a crime.
  • 616.456.3400 – Non-emergency for a crime that has taken place with no immediate threat, suspicious situation, person, or vehicle, and other non-emergency criminal activity, disturbances, and on-street drug sales where an officer response is needed.
  • 616.456.4800 –  Use this number to leave detailed information about drug house activities. Be specific as possible with who, when, where, etc.
  • 616.456.3403 or report online to provide further information, or to report an incident for insurance purposes. These reports also help GRPD track crime patterns in our neighborhood.
  • If you are not comfortable contacting the police directly, you can get in touch anonymously with Silent Observer online or at 616.774.2345 OR TOLL FREE 1.866.774.2345. This is especially useful for providing tips on major unsolved crimes.
Fire
Call 311 to schedule your free smoke alarm installation
Emergency Preparedness, Cyber Protection and More

Prepare for emergencies by following steps like those compiled by Healthline (general), SingleCare (medicine/first aid) and Porch.com (fire). UpHomes recommends practices to prevent crime.

Bankrate and Consumer Affairs both list improvements you can make for better security. Most of the physical improvements are the same as we would have recommended in the past through a home security survey. Safety.com has a guide to security systems.

Need to learn basic online safety tips? Check out this video from the City of Grand Rapids on secure passwords and phishing. Did the warning come too late? Heart of West Michigan United Way now offers assistance with recovering from cybercrime. They can help identity theft, hacked account/devices, financial/purchase scams, imposter scams and cyberbullying/harassment/stalking. To get started, call 2-1-1 to be connected to a specialist, text your zip code to 898211, or chat at www.hwmuw.org/211.

EPIK, a collaboration including Health Department, Red Cross, and others, provided the following monthly emergency preparedness handouts themed by month: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.

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