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10.31.19 – Club News

Club News written by Tom Mathison

The Rotary Club of Downtown Grand Rapids gathered at noon at the University Club for its regular meeting. President Neil Marchand called this meeting to order at noon by welcoming everyone and announcing the line-up of events and future speakers for the Club:

  • 7: Club 77, hosted by Eunice Lopez-Martin @ Choice One Bank from 5:00 – 6:30 pm – RSVP by October 31.
  • 14th: John Baxter, Mel Bauman and Anthony Torres – “Veterans Services in West Michigan”
  • 21st: Phil Biggs, Director, Private Company Services, Pricewaterhouse Coopers @ University Club


Neil called upon Doris Drain to lead us in song today, “Baby Shark”, followed by today’s invocation by Carl Ver Beek.

Following lunch, Neil reminded everyone that at the Club 77 event, they will be giving out money.  RSVP’s are due by the end of the day. Neil then invited Melissa Boisvert to introduce guests and visiting Rotarians. Neil then invited Jim Gilbert to give an update on the benefits of the Rotary Foundation around the world, and he encouraged everyone to give at least $100 each year to the RI Foundation.

Paul Farr came to the podium to introduce our speakers today, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne and Deputy Chief Scott Rifenberg.  Chief Payne has been with the GRPD for 32 years, and began as Chief in July, 2019.  Deputy Chief Rifenberg has been with GRPD for 26 years, and as Deputy Chief is in charge of the administration and investigations departments of the GRPD.

Eric began his remarks by giving a bit of his background.  He grew up in Dowagiac, Michigan, and wen to GVSU, and then immediately to the Grand Rapids Police Department.  The primary job of the GRPD is to keep the community safe, which requires the trust of the community and fantastic staff support.  Eric began a slide presentation taken from the 201888888 Annual Report describing the various departments of the GRPD, as well as the men and women who lead those departments and initiatives.

Deputy Police Chief David Kiddle served as the interim Chief before Eric Payne was named the new Chief, and in the annual report indicated that in 2018 there were 111,537 calls to the GRPD.  From that, only 13,094 arrests were made, and there were 350 gun crimes.

In July of 2018, the GRPD received its accreditation by CALEA (Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies).  Deputy Chief Rifenberg said that only 5% of agencies in the U.S. have earned CALEA accreditation.  CALEA is the “gold standard” of law enforcement accreditation.

The City is divided into five enforcement regions.  With a staff of 300, Chief Payne said the GRPD is proud to say that it investigates every complaint that comes into the department.  This is rare in law enforcement.  Within each Division are several Units and programs:

  • Investigative Division
    • Vice Unit
    • Detective Unit
    • Forensics Unit
  • Support Services Division / Records and Technology Division
    • Training Unit
    • Communications Bureau
    • Records and Technology
    • Traffic Unit
    • Special Response Team
    • Canine Unit
    • Internal Affairs Unit
    • Mounted Unit
    • Crisis Negotiation
    • Bomb Team
    • Honor Guard
    • Bike and Segway Patrols
  • Connecting With Community
    • Crime Prevention Unit
    • Community Engagement Unit
      • Project Night Lights
      • O.C.K.
      • Coffee with a Cop
      • Patrols
    • Community Initiatives
      • Volunteer and Neighborhood Services
      • Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry / Support Groups for Men and Women
      • Citizen Police Academy
    • Mentoring Youth
      • Grand Rapids Police Explorer Post
      • Chief’s Youth Advisory Board
      • Boys and Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth (GRYC)
      • Pathways to Policing
      • Youth Police Academy (YPA)
      • Onbase with GRPD
    • Recruiting and Hiring

Chief Payne and Deputy Chief Rifenberg concluded their remarks with warm applause from the Rotary audience and received a number of questions, including questions about the effectiveness of body cams, the decision to separate the GRPD 911 system from the rest of the county, the relationship between GRPD and Federal Agencies, and the need for additional officers.  Chief Payne encouraged everyone to speak with the City Commission and the Mayor if you feel the GRPD needs more officers.

Neil then presented Eric and Scott with a certificate for each of them, marking a new water filter for a family in Nicaragua in honor of their time with us today.

Neil reiterated the upcoming Rotary events and then rang the Rotary bell to adjourn the meeting.

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