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Community meeting scheduled to discuss GRPD drones

Sep 21, 2023Sep 21, 2023

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Police Department is hosting a community-wide informational meeting and listening session on possibly buying up drones to help them in their police work.

The drones are also referred to as Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS).

Office of Oversight and Public Accountability (OPA) Director Brandon Davis and GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom will give brief presentations on SUAS before taking questions from the audience.

The city's Administrative Policy 15-03 on the acquisition and use of surveillance technology requires a public hearing before the purchase request. That hearing was on April 25 at the commission's regularly scheduled meeting.

Chief Winstrom says the drones will help aid the department and that many departments already utilize them. With GRPD being the second-largest municipal agency in Michigan, he says it's time for some updates to their equipment. Chief Winstrom has already participated in neighborhood association meetings and this Tuesday is another opportunity for the community to ask questions.

"We wanted to go above and beyond the administrative outreach requirements to be clear with the community about the ways we plan to use, and not use, drone technology in support of public safety," Chief Winstrom said.

Community feedback has been a mixed bag, with many saying they're worried about the drone use and have privacy concerns.

The June 6 meeting is at Lifequest Church on Fisk Road SE from 6 p.m.- 7:30 p.m.

The city will livestream the meeting on its Facebook pageand YouTube channels.

Community members can ask questions via Facebook comments on the livestream or in advance by emailing [email protected].