Join us to participate in the upcoming 2019 City:One Challenge. 

Reallocate crossing guard/traffic control duties for before and after events to free up the Grand Rapids Police Department.

Create a business or a department to provide traffic control or crossing guard services to our city events so police can focus on the city.

Photo of annie young

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The Grand Rapids Challenge ask us how might we create a seamless transportation system to improve quality of life for residents and visitors of Grand Rapids. Thinking outside the box, and observing the activity in the downtown Grand Rapids area made me wonder if there was a better way to handle traffic after an event. From an observers perspective It can be chaotic and monopolize the resources of the police department. 


Grand Rapids is growing, especially our downtown area.

If you have spent time downtown, I am betting you would agree our venues are bringing in a record number of people. Some of the contributors to this include The Convention Center, The Arena, The Performance Venues, The Resturant & Bar Crowds, and the Festivals & Special Events. These are all significant factors in bringing people into our City and to downtown Grand Rapids. They are an excellent source of revenue, and it is terrific to see our city so alive. However, they all have one thing in common; they bring a mass of people and cars in and out of the area at the same time.

In many cases, traffic flow is at a standstill without the assistance of the Grand Rapids Police Department to direct and control traffic flow because of the sheer volume.

The police spend several hours for each significant event blocking streets and directing traffic. While I am not in charge of the police departments budget,  this does not seem to be the most efficient way to utilize their talents and services, and I believe there is a better way to control traffic flow than using Grand Rapids Finest Men and Women.


I propose we create a new business or department in Grand Rapids that provides the same uniform system of traffic control for events. We would hire individuals at a lower wage then Police Officers, perhaps college-aged Men and Women to work as Crossing Guards or Traffic Officers, and train them on how to handle foot and vehicle traffic. We would bill the venues for their safety service rather than charging for city police services. Just as they do now, the events and venues could pass the expense on to performers and activities making it a very sustainable department or business.

Those that plan the events could work directly with our new business or department for coordinating and scheduling traffic control and this reallocating of traffic control would free up the Grand Rapids Police Department to focus on other issues.

As a side note, the police department would maintain control of traffic control for emergency events.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

The venues and city planning committees.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Just an idea at this time.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $50,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

The business or department would hire and train individuals, working with the GRPD and Venues for a few months before taking full control of the Service. If it is a separate Business, once it is efficiently operating it could be expanded to work with other communities and events that take sheriff and police officers away from other responsibilities.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Sucess would be determined by actions, community relations, and growth.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Idrees Mutahr

Thank you for the submission Annie, this Idea makes me wonder what additional transportation functions this team could help address for the city when they aren't working a particular event.

Photo of annie young

I think this would depend on if we create a private business or a department in the city. I think the laws will dictate if we can privatize traffic control.

If we privatize and form a business around this idea, then perhaps for hire security could be an additional function. If we were to make it part of a department within the city, then perhaps other city responsibilities could be added or included.

Photo of Elianna Bootzin

Yes, I was at a recent City Commission session where they acknowledged that in Michigan the only exception to police officers controlling traffic is explicitly for school crossing guards. The City Attorney is supposed to be checking for any opportunities that might be allowed outside of that. Large events do pay a fee for the service.

Photo of annie young

Thank you! Good to know. I just think we could use our resources better... hopefully it generates some conversations.

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