Grand Rapids names Eric Payne as new police chief

Posted at 11:17 AM, Jul 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-12 16:07:07-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — City Manager Mark Washington has announced that Grand Rapids police veteran Eric Payne is the new police chief.

Payne has been a member of the Grand Rapids Police Department for 32 years and was most recently deputy chief of operations for the last two years. During that time, he oversaw the Patrol Division, Special Response Team, Traffic Unit, Office of Special Events and Canine Unit.

Washington said the city utilized a nationwide search firm, but ultimately decided on someone who is already a member of the community.

"He is the one who really wants to be here, wants to be in this community, has love for this community," Washington said.

Payne said his first priority for the department will be the safety of the community and people who come to visit.

When it comes to fixing the recent uptick in violence throughout the city, he referenced the department's relationship with the community.

"Having good, sound relationships in the community will help us in reducing the crime rate and solving these crimes," Payne said.

Transparency with the city's residents will be a priority under Payne.

"(The department will have) open data on our arrests, traffic stops," he said. "We need to be able to provide that to the public to let them know what we're doing. It shouldn't take incidents to cause us to have to bring that forward."

While he has been a longtime member of the department, Payne says they will not conduct business as usual.

"There will be changes to the Grand Rapids Police Department," he said. "We'll take the good things we're doing, continue to do those — and if we can do those even better, we'll do that. But there will be things we'll look to do."

Payne will officially start in the position on July 22.

Payne has served in the past as captain of the Investigative Division, which includes the Detective, Vice and Forensic Services units. He also served as captain of the South Service Area and the department’s Crisis Negotiation Team. Before that, he served as administrative lieutenant for the South Service Area and as a patrol watch commander. He started in Grand Rapids as a patrol officer, hostage negotiator and field training officer.

Payne graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in criminal justice.

Two others were finalists for the position: Larry Scirotto of Pittsburgh and Mike Yankowski of Lansing. Yankowski withdrew from consideration last month.