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Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne remembers time with department on last day

Posted at 6:03 PM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 19:05:52-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In a tearful message to his family at his retirement ceremony, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne thanks his family for being by his side through the last two years.

“What you had to endure, people attacking you, because of me. The death Thank you,” Payne said.

Eric Payne started as a patrol officer with the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) 34 years ago as a patrol officer. He quickly rose from a sergeant on the city's south side, then to a captain with the major-case team, then became a deputy chief before taking the department's top job in 2019 as chief.

He says now it's time to go back to his most important title: being a husband and father.

“The toughest part, it wasn’t being out in the street with 3,000 people screaming at me. My family was always on my mind. So, thank you,” Payne said.

Payne says he's proud to have a historic role in the department as its first Black police chief. He says it's because of those who came before him he was able to rise to that position.

He says he's proud he was able to appoint the city's first female deputy chief, too.

“Because she was the right person at the right time for the job. She just happened to be a female,” Payne said.

Payne says he's proud of his department's strategic plan to move the department in the right direction. He's also proud of the connections he's made and kept in the community, saying relationship building is the best way to move the department towards progress.

Now, he's ready for some time off.

“It’s been a good time. But it’s time to move on,” Payne said.

RELATED: New Grand Rapids police chief to be sworn in March 7

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