One year later: A look into GVPD’s downtown station

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One year later: A look into GVPD’s downtown station

GVL / Caleb Worpel

GVL / Caleb Worpel

GVL / Caleb Worpel

GVL / Caleb Worpel

Sarah Edgecomb, News Editor

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In fall 2018, Grand Valley Police Department established a police station on Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus to expand their presence and provide wider coverage. The station began with only two officers, both of which are still stationed downtown. A year later, GVPD is looking to add another officer starting in January 2020 to expand their presence with the growing campus.

“Our overarching goal is to provide a safe environment for faculty, staff and students to work downtown,” said GVPD Capt. Kourosh Khatir. “We know that we have expanded our (university) footprint downtown, and therefore we’re trying to expand our police services to match the growth.”

“I want (officers) to be approachable by students. I want everybody that works or studies down here (on the Pew Campus) to feel safe.””

— Kourosh Khatir

Khatir said that the officers downtown are tasked with both responding to calls and creating relationships within the community. By establishing trust and familiarity, students and faculty are more likely to report crimes. Khatir also mentioned students will feel more comfortable to ask officers questions or request a safety lecture due to their familiarity with the officers.

“The goal is to be present,” Khatir said.

While the two officers stationed downtown cover day and evening shifts, spanning between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., adding a third officer will provide overnight coverage. Khatir said they are hoping to expand to weekend patrols as well.

“Having police officers downtown kind of enables us to… investigate criminal activity internally by our own GVSU police officers,” Khatir said. “We’ve collaborated and formed some great partnerships and relationships with the Grand Rapids Police Department as well as a result of having police officers down here.”

For JP West, the first police officer to be stationed downtown, working in the city varies from his 21 years on Allendale Campus through the nature of the police work itself.

“One of the main differences is a lot of my action at the downtown campus involves non-students,” West said.

West said a majority of calls he attends to are trespassing or larceny calls. While annual incident reports show wide gaps between the number of incidents on Pew and Allendale campuses, the officers downtown offer community support as well as enforcement. 

“It’s more of a community policing type of set-up,” West said. 

Although the Grand Rapids Police Department is close to Pew Campus, West said that GVPD officers offer a familiarity and community relationship that GRPD doesn’t.

“We’re right here, close by, (so) our response time is typically going to be quicker,” West said. “Also, we’re part of the community… folks tend to be more comfortable talking with me and the officers down here because we’re regularly around.” 

West also cited GVPD’s regular patrolling on campus as an asset. 

“We know the campus better because we’re not just responding here on call, we’re here regularly patrolling and interacting to help build the community,” West said.

For Khatir, having GVPD officers downtown is also a point of reassurance for students. He cited shootings that happened on the periphery of campus and how GVPD was able to respond and reassure students.

GVL / Caleb Worpel

“Obviously we can’t control what happens in the city or on the borders of our campus, but just having an armed force downtown to be able to respond to the needs of our specific community is helpful,” Khatir said.

Between partnerships with GRPD and the GVSU community, GVPD’s downtown police station is aiming to build upon those relationships and become an even wider presence on Pew Campus in its second year.

“I want (officers) to be approachable by students,” Khatir said. “I want everybody that works or studies down here to feel safe.”