Campus Safety Task Force report gives opportunity for GVPD feedback

The number of informal complaints and internal investigations made against Grand Valley Police Department officers has greatly decreased since 2017, according to a report from the Campus Safety Task Force.

Brandon DeHaan, director of public safety and chief of police, said the report was created after President Philomena V. Mantella's charge to the Network of Advisors for Racial Equity to review current policing practices.

DeHaan and three other people — Jesse Bernal, vice president for Inclusion and Equity and executive associate for presidential initiatives; George Grant, former dean of the College of Community and Public Service; and Greg Sanial, vice president for Finance and Administration — led the task force with input from a cross-section of campus community members. DeHaan has since given presentations about the report to multiple student, faculty and staff organizations.

a GVPD officer directs someone with a question during move-in
GVPD Sgt. Leah Heaton helps with a question during the August move-in.
Valerie Hendrickson
officer in car talking on radio
Officer JP West is pictured in a GVPD car.
Valerie Hendrickson

"A lot of people in the country are hurt, angry and distrustful of police," he said. "This report provides a basic understanding of how our police department interacts with the community, summarizes plans for the future and provides an opportunity for feedback from our campus members."

The report noted one informal complaint against GVPD in 2020, down from 10 in 2016. It also discusses recruitment plans, officer training and the use of body cameras.

GVPD does not currently use body cameras, DeHaan noted. Because the use of body cameras has been prevalent in some civil unrest incidents involving departments across the country, DeHaan said he wanted to pose the question to the campus community.

"The general public has preconceived notions about body cameras," he said. "Other departments use them because the public does not trust the police and think they need to be held accountable. We need to hear from the community if they see the value in GVPD wearing body cameras."

DeHaan called GVPD a very transparent department and noted a transparency webpage will be added to the department's website soon.

He also hopes to give the presentation to many more campus groups; it includes a survey asking for feedback on how GVPD operates. Contact DeHaan to schedule a presentation.