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Community Updates: Friday, February 10

Grand Rapids Police Department, Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness, and Housing Kent give reports/presentations at Tuesday's Public Safety Committee meeting; Grand Rapids Ballet to put on production of Romeo & Juliet over weekend following Valentine's Day; and more
Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids

Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids /John Rothwell

Grand Rapids Police Department, Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness, and Housing Kent Give Reports/Presentations at Tuesday's Public Safety Committee Meeting

At 12:30pm on Tuesday, February 7, the Grand Rapids Public Safety Committee met at City Hall to discuss the public safety situation in the City.

Chief Eric Winstrom of the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) gave the first report of the afternoon. During his presentation, he provided the Committee with monthly and year-to-date crime statistics in Grand Rapids, as well as updates about staffing and the deployment of resources. He began by stating that his report would primarily cover crime statistics from 2022 as "there [are] no statistically relevant trends" yet this year. However, he did point out that the City has already seen "at least" two separate homicide events in 2023, resulting in the deaths of 16-year-old Joseph Ivory Jr. (on January 1, 2023) and 30-year-old Jontell White (on January 14, 2023).

According to Chief Winstrom, Grand Rapids saw a "below average" total of 22 homicide incidents in 2022. He also reported that aggravated assaults and vehicle thefts were up in 2022 compared to the 3-year average while the amount of burglaries was down. Another notable statistic included in this presentation is last year's 71.4% cleared homicide rate (compared to the national average of 49%), as well as the 527 illegally owned firearms that were collected by the GRPD in 2022.  

The second portion of the meeting revolved around the topics of housing and homelessness and featured presentations from members of some of the City's partner agencies -- including Courtney Myers-Keaton, the Continuum of Care Director at the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness, and Eureka People, the President of Housing Kent. In their presentations, Myers-Keaton and People shared data relating to homelessness in Grand Rapids, as well as Kent County as a whole. This data encompassed everything from the demographics of Kent County's unhoused population to the average amount of time unhoused individuals and families experience homelessness. Myers-Keaton and People also laid out the programs and services they provide to unhoused individuals and families, as well as those experiencing housing instability.   

To see the full meeting, including the presentations given by Chief Winstrom of the GRPD and the representatives from the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness and Housing Kent, watch below or visit the City of Grand Rapids' YouTube channel here.


Grand Rapids Ballet to Put on Production of Romeo & Juliet Over Weekend Following Valentine's Day

The Grand Rapids Ballet (GRB) has announced that, over the weekend following Valentine's Day, it will be putting on a production of one of William's Shakespeare's most well-known tragedies, “Romeo & Juliet.” These performances, the GRB's first of the year, will be choreographed by James Sofranko, the Grand Rapids Ballet’s Artistic Director. Additionally, according to a press release that was sent out on Tuesday, the Grand Rapids Symphony will be performing a live accompaniment of composer Sergei Prokofiev's "ravishing score."

In Tuesday's press release, James Sofranko also made the following statement about what this production of "Romeo & Juliet" means to him: 

"Romeo & Juliet is a ballet that is dear to my heart, having danced it numerous times in Helgi Tomasson's version at San Francisco Ballet. I have been in love with the story since my youth, and to create my own production for Grand Rapids Ballet is a dream come true. The score by Prokofiev is one of my absolute favorites -- the emotion pours out of the orchestra and fuels the characters on the stage. The dancers have put their heart and soul into this production, and I am so grateful to them for their willingness to join me on this journey."

The Grand Rapids Ballet's production of "Romeo & Juliet" will take place from Friday, February 17 through Sunday, February 19 at the Devos Performance Hall in downtown Grand Rapids. For more information about the production, ticketing, and more, visit the Grand Rapids Ballet's website here.


Also in the News:


  • On Thursday night, a bomb threat was reported at the Trinity Health St. Mary's Emergency Department in Grand Rapids. When GRPD Bomb Squad Technicians arrived on scene, they discovered that the threat had been false. The individual who made the intitial threat has since been arrested. 


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