Yesterday, in a surprising and unexpected move, the Grand Rapids City Commission rejected $500,000 of Federal CARES dollars to support public safety and crime prevention from Kent County.
The Commission voted 3-3 on the measure, with Commissioner O’Connor having a planned absence. The resolution would have allowed the Mayor to accept the grant with the expectation that it could be used to meet increasing public safety demands due to an alarming surge in violent crime.
Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, Commissioners Joe Jones and Nathaniel Moody voted in support.
Commissioners Senita Lenear, Kurt Reppart, and Milinda Ysasi voted against accepting the funds.
The Commission’s Public Safety Committee received an update on year-to-date crime (see the report here) which shows a drastic increase in violent crime over 2019. Some of the most notable and concerning increases are weapon firing (209.9% increase), murder attempts (195.5% increase) and murder (108% increase).
The Grand Rapids Chamber is working every day to address root causes of crime through our work to promote an environment that supports economic prosperity for all, housing supply and affordability, access to high quality childcare, criminal justice reform and more.
With the largest increase in violent crime in recent history and the pandemic impacting the City budget significantly, it is disappointing that the Commission could not find a resolution to put this money to good use to benefit the citizens of Grand Rapids.
We want to thank Mayor Bliss, and Commissioners Jones and Moody, as well as City Manager Mark Washington and his staff, for their leadership on this issue. Going forward we hope to see more action to address these concerns to support our community in this time of need.