Grand Rapids Names City’s First New Black Chief for Police Department

Grand Rapids’ new police chief, Eric Payne. 

The city made the announcement Friday, after a months-long nationwide search by Public Sector Search & Consulting. Payne is a nearly 33-year veteran of the Grand Rapids Police Department. He currently serves as Deputy Chief. He will be the department’s first black police chief. 
Payne says his three top priorities are improving safety, community policing and transparency. He’ll officially take over as chief on July 22nd.  Grand Rapids city manager Mark Washington chose Payne among three finalists for the job. He says the city searched “high and low” across the nation for its next chief.  “As it turned out, our candidate was right underneath our nose the whole time,” Washington says. “I know that we as a community have a lot of challenges that face us, not only in public safety, but in many other areas. And I take comfort in knowing that Deputy Chief Payne is prepared for this challenge.”  Payne takes over in a department that has been criticized in the community in recent years for how officers have handled incidents with people of color. Payne, who is black, told residents last month he understands the concerns voiced by people of color in the community.    “I have been racially profiled,” Payne said at a community forum last month in the city. “I understand it. I feel that pain. What we need to do is also get our officers better equipped to understand the different cultural entities they may run into. It’s not just the black and brown, it’s the Asian, we have a huge Bosnian community here in Grand Rapids. It runs the gamut of people that we deal with.” Payne says as the department’s first African-American Chief, he hopes he can bridge the gap between communities of color and the police department. “I think everyone in the community wants the same thing, which is a safe community,” Payne says.

Article originally posted on July 12, 2019

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