NewsLocal NewsGrand Rapids


Eric Winstrom sworn in as new Grand Rapids Police chief

Eric Winstrom sworn in as new Grand Rapids Police chief
Posted at 9:18 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 23:07:12-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The next leader of the Grand Rapids Police Department was sworn in on Monday. 

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom takes over for Eric Payne, who retired last week. Winstrom is the department’s 15th chief according to the city. 

“I want to ensure public safety in a manner that holds real offenders accountable, but doesn’t undermine the city’s trust and well being,” said Winstrom. 

Winstrom came to West Michigan from Chicago. 

For more than 20 years, Winstrom worked in various patrol, tactical, investigative, and administrative positions with the Chicago Police Department.

In 2019, Winstrom rose to the rank of commander and oversaw a detective division on the city’s northwest side. 

Winstrom also holds a law degree. 

We have one of the worst records for solving crimes, yet Area 5 detectives had the highest number of solved crimes,” said Susana Mendoza. “You saw the largest reductions of violence happen in one of the most difficult districts in Chicago because of Commander Winstrom being at the helm.”

Susana Mendoza is Illionis’ state comptroller and considers herself one of Winstrom’s friends. Her brother, Chicago Police Det. Sgt. Joaquin Mendoza, worked with Winstrom too. She said Winstrom allows him to “straddle both sides.”

“He’s a leader for his officers, they trust him, they respect him, they take their cues from him, but he’s also so involved in the community and has always had that reputation so they trust him,” said Susana Mendoza.

Joaquin Mendoza called Winstrom’s new role a loss for Chicago, but a gain for Grand Rapids.

“There’s people that talk the game and there’s people that walk the game,” said Joaquin Mendoza. “Chief Winstrom… your community is going to love him so much more when they interact with him and see what he brings to the game.”

In a speech, Winstrom said he wants to build on GRPD’s goals for improved transparency and responsibility. He plans to evaluate the department’s policies, resource allocation, training technologies, and metrics, to determine if it can better serve residents.

“Every day GRPD has an opportunity to set an example of how to be the best police department,” said Winstrom. “I’m excited to start listening to community led discussions of what’s needed for the police department in Grand Rapids. I’m going to make sure I’m not the only one at GRPD that’s actively listening and taking the opportunities to listen.”

Winstrom added officers deserved the same too. He said he intends to create a more positive work environment that strengthens recruitment and retention.

“They are more than and not just defined by their profession,” said Winstrom. “Just because they are strong and tough, doesn’t mean they don’t hurt. They deserve transparency and what’s expected of them and they deserve a fair process in how they’re judged.”

City Manager Mark Washington, who appointed Winstrom after a six month search, said Winstrom stood “head and shoulders” above the other candidates. He said he believes Winstrom can help Grand Rapids become the safest mid-sized city in the country.

“It’s time for you to step out in front and lead this department and lead this city,” said Washington.