GRAND RAPIDS, MI July 11 2019— Grand Rapids hopes it can free up time for police officers to do more of what they’re trained to do by putting more of their less serious responsibilities on a group of volunteers.
On Tuesday, the city commission voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that will grant trained volunteers with the Grand Rapids Police Department the ability to enforce more parking ordinances than previously allowed.
Members of the police department’s volunteer program could already write tickets for violations like parking in a handicapped zone, within a crosswalk, in a no parking zone and within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.
They’ll now be able to write tickets for:
Parking left of curb
Parking within or on a bike lane
Parking in a manner that blocks a bike lane
Parking an unattached trailer or semi-trailer in the roadway
Season parking restrictions (odd/even winter parking)
“This is really an expansion of the volunteer program we’ve had at the police department for years,” said Second Ward Commissioner Ruth Kelly. “This is going to offer some additional support for our officers.”
State law authorizes police departments to develop a program that engages volunteers to write a variety of parking tickets, upon completion of training provided by that department.
The Grand Rapids Police Department’s volunteer program has been used to assist officers for close to two decades, according to city officials. Its non-sworn members do things like abandoned vehicle tagging, parking violation enforcement, graffiti reporting, vacation house checks and senior resident visits.
“The program is perfect for those who are at a point in life where they have some free time to give back to the community and are looking for a meaningful way to improve quality of life for all who call Grand Rapids home,” said Ofc. Ruth Walters, who serves as the department’s volunteer coordinator.
“The volunteer program is vital to ensuring the best service to the community while balancing the department’s resources.”
Odd-even parking tickets on the rise with more enforcement in Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids has issued more than 6,000 tickets for odd-even parking ordinance violations so far this season.
Earlier this year, the city announced it was seeking to double the 16 active members of the program.
Volunteers are paired up and assigned to one of the five patrol service areas in the city. They’re asked to commit to a minimum of eight hours each month between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Qualifications for the program include:
Minimum age of 18 years old
Possession of a valid Michigan driver’s license
Successful completion of a background investigation
Willingness to serve others
Volunteers dress in supplied uniforms and are assigned to city vehicles that are identified by the Neighborhood Services Team logo. They also receive training through the police department.
To learn more about the program or to register as a police department volunteer, visit the city website, call 616-456-3301, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.