GVPD explains importance of interconnectivity and collaboration between police departments


GVL / Max Ritchie

Emma Armijo, Staff Writer

While a police department’s main concern is the community within their jurisdiction, neighboring departments work together and use each other as resources to solve cases that might require more than what’s available to one department alone. 

Grand Valley State University’s Police Department interacts with others in the police community much more than one might think.

Grandville, Walker, Grand Rapids and Wyoming all have their own police departments with jurisdiction extending to the city limits. 

County Sheriff’s departments, like Ottawa County and Kent County, operate between and around the city departments, essentially patrolling the township areas that don’t necessarily have their own municipality. 

For the GVPD, the campus community is their jurisdiction. 

GVPD Police Captain, Jeffery Stoll, said the amount of interaction that one police force has with another department is very frequent. Having multiple campuses in different areas means that GVPD works with multiple other agencies. 

“Our two main partners are Ottawa County for the Allendale campus and Grand Rapids Police Department for the Grand Rapids campus,” Stoll said. “Those partners are the ones that we line up to in our jurisdiction, but I think what people would be surprised to know is how many connections and interactions you’re having with agencies that are even beyond your immediate neighbors.”

Digital influences have created more interagency communication than ever because departments are sharing more information with each other. 

GVPD will regularly receive bulletins from other police departments giving out information in regards to what’s happening in each jurisdiction and what other departments should keep an eye out for. 

Stoll said the two main reasons that a police department will create a bulletin involve general public safety and frequency of a crime.

“One (reason) is for the likelihood of violence,” Stoll said. “We want the community and officers to be aware that there could be a significant safety issue. The other thing is associated with crime patterns. When we see similar types of criminal behavior, whatever that might be, that’s a recurring pattern, then we kind of work together on that component.”

A process called “crime mapping” allows all of the police departments in a region to interact and decipher patterns in the crimes committed. During the process of crime mapping, a computer program shows a map of the general area. When a crime happens, it’s logged to the map. 

Surrounding agencies all log every crime into the crime-mapping system, so officers are able to see what crimes are happening most frequently and where even outside of their specific jurisdiction. 

When high priority cases cross over large areas the locations of GVPD and other departments can be used to the advantage when a case calls for a wider investigation. 

Jeff, a 911 dispatcher for Kent County Sheriff’s Department, said proximity plays a large role in the interconnectedness of the police departments. 

While each department is separate and covers their own certain areas if a case takes them to the edge of one department’s jurisdiction they can get assistance from the next department over.

“Some of the bigger departments have a little bit more resources than some of the smaller departments,” Jeff said. “There might be a particular call where it’s close to another jurisdiction and one jurisdiction might need some assistance with more officers because it’s a higher priority call.”

Jeff said police departments working together helps them share resources.

For example, Kent County Sheriff’s Department has a K-9 squad, while other police departments might not. A department could work together with Kent County Police to utilize a K-9 team for tracking, should a case require it. 

“If one department has a certain resource that another department needs then that department can request it,” Jeff said. “Obviously, we all work well together, you know, we all have the same goal of public safety.”

Working together and sharing resources makes achieving that safety more attainable and efficient.