Eric Payne named Grand Rapids’ next police chief

PRESS RELEASE — City Manager Mark Washington today announced his selection for Grand Rapids’ next police chief: Deputy Chief Eric Payne. The decision follows a competitive national search and robust vetting process that engaged residents, business and civic leaders, law enforcement and other community stakeholders. 

Payne, who has been a member of the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) for 32 years, was among three finalists for the position. He has served as GRPD’s deputy chief of operations for nearly two years. In that role, he oversees the Patrol Division, Special Response Team, Traffic Unit, Office of Special Events and Canine Unit. 

“Chief Payne is exactly the kind of leader we need for our police department,” Washington said. “He is responsive, tough on crime and collaborative and he is committed to community policing. He has proven senior executive law enforcement experience and he has devoted his career to keeping our community safe.

“I look forward to his effective leadership moving our talented police department forward, bolstering our efforts to build trust and strengthen relationships with the community and transforming public safety in Grand Rapids.”

As police chief, Payne’s priority areas of focus will include safety, community policing and transparency, and staffing and training. 

“It’s my job to make sure Grand Rapids remains one of the safest cities in the country for residents and visitors,” Payne said. “We do this by partnering with the community to reduce and prevent crime and produce public safety outcomes. We also do this by creating a shared culture of community-oriented policing throughout our department, recruiting and retaining the best talent, enhancing training and accountability measures on diversity and inclusion, and reinforcing a culture that is based on our City organization’s values.”

Before becoming deputy chief, Payne was captain of the Investigative Division, which includes the Detective, Vice and Forensic Services units. He previously served as captain of the South Service Area and the department’s Crisis Negotiation Team. He also served as administrative lieutenant for the South Service Area and as a patrol watch commander. He began his career as a patrol officer, hostage negotiator and field training officer.

Payne has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Grand Valley State University. He has advanced leadership training from the Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Institute and Leadership Institute for Police Executives and New Chiefs.

Payne becomes police chief effective July 22.

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