GVSU expands police services at Grand Rapids campus

Officer Minh directing traffic 8/30/18. GVL / Archive

Officer Minh directing traffic 8/30/18. GVL / Archive

Alexandra Loyd

Grand Valley State University has recently added sworn law enforcement officials to the downtown Grand Rapids’ campus to serve alongside already stationed security.

In the past, most of the university’s footprint was held on the Allendale campus, so not as many officers were needed downtown. 

“The agreement was proposed because we saw a need to try to provide the same level of service for our campus community on both campuses,” says Director of Public Safety and Captain [Grand Rapids Campuses] Kourosh Khatir. “We traditionally only had security personnel working downtown and we had sworn officers on the Allendale campus, and that made sense because our footprint downtown was small when it began, but it has grown.” 

Grand Valley’s student growth in Grand Rapids continues to be more and more expansive. With new buildings being built downtown such as recently opened Finkelstein Hall and another possible health building in the works, more space and property means more students that the university is responsible for. 

“Students are used to seeing security officers downtown, but now they’ll see armed, sworn police officers,” Khatir said. 

Similar to the agreement GVSU’s Allendale campus has with Ottawa County, officials from Grand Valley and the Grand Rapids Police Department signed their own agreement which states in the case of an emergency, GRPD will now be able to dispatch officers from GVPD. 

“In the event of a critical incident in Allendale, we’d get help from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. We’ve integrated that type of idea to the downtown campuses,” said Assistant Director of Public Safety and Captain [Allendale Campus] Jeff Stoll. “The agreement paves the road for us to work in partnerships so they [GRPD] can come onto campus. This allows us to partner together when we need them.”

In the case of an emergency, students won’t have to wait for the Grand Rapids Police Department to arrive, as a GVPD officer will now be patrolling the Grand Valley property and waiting to respond to any call there may be. 

“In the unfortunate situation where we have an emergency, where we have somebody armed on campus, we’ll also have an armed police officer able to respond and I think when you’re talking about emergencies and an emergency response, minutes, seconds–they count, and having somebody here will allow us to respond quickly,” Khatir said. 

Grand Valley plans on slowly integrating officers to build a downtown campus police department from scratch. The board has currently approved five officers to work downtown, but more will be added in gradually; thus, 24-hour law enforcement service won’t be provided right away. 

“We’re kind of creating something where nothing existed. We’re starting out with one officer, hopefully we’ll add another one within the next year, and build it up to four or five as we’re able to,” Khatir said. 

The end goal is to create a more comprehensive safety service for the students downtown.