GVPD has little to do with recent sexual assault reports

Hannah Lentz

A Twitter search of “GVPD” comes up with hundreds of results. The interesting part of these search results isn’t how many people are talking about the Grand Valley State University Police Department, it’s what they’re saying about it.

Time and time again, I read tweets blaming the GVPD for the recent instances of sexual assault. The vast majority of tweets talk about the “uneven” allocation of funding surrounding sexual assault prevention and youth alcohol enforcement.

Many tweets read something along the lines of “maybe if GVPD spent less time handing out minor in possession citations they could reduce sexual assaults.”

I get it.

When instances of violence plague a campus, the first people we want to blame are those in charge of protecting safety. When we hear about these reports of sexual assault, we want a face to blame and, often, the first people to get thrown under the bus are campus police.

But before you tweet about how unfair it is that your friend got an MIP and acts of sexual violence are going unsolved, it is important to know all the facts.

First of all, these acts of sexual violence have taken place at off-campus locations, all of which are not a part of GVPD’s jurisdiction. These sexual assaults are a huge problem, a fact that representatives at GVPD have addressed on multiple occasions. However, these attempts to blame the system of campus enforcement as a whole are misdirected.

This is not to say the GVPD is perfect. If you asked anyone in the office of public safety, they would tell you there is room to improve. But when instances of violence threaten our community, we need to ensure that we are responding in a constructive and appropriate manner. Additionally, GVPD has taken extra caution when it comes to student safety. But, looking at the logistics behind it, there is only so much they can do.

Although GVPD’s jurisdiction does not include off-campus apartments and other locations, GVPD often patrols the area when Ottawa County is in need of backup assistance. This includes extra patrols during “high risk” times. GVSU has also contributed money to include lighting on 48th Avenue, a street that is not in their jurisdiction.

Additionally, it is in poor taste to equate youth alcohol enforcement to sexual assault prevention. In a way, this is insinuating that instead of educating a community on what is right and wrong, it is more important to catch those who choose to break both the laws of ethics and official criminal acts. We need to be focusing on changing the conversation around sexual assault instead of taking away from other safety measures.

We have made it obvious as a community that we do not approve of or accept the acts of violence impacting our community right now. Even these misdirected criticisms show that GVSU will not stand for student’s safety to be threatened and that is admirable. Now we need to make sure that these complaints are being heard by those in charge of patrolling the areas we have seen problems at.