GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Karianne Thomas, chief of staff of the Grand Rapids Police Department, resigned from the department Friday morning.
GRPD Chief Eric Payne announced the resignation in a letter sent to community stakeholders.
The letter says Thomas “felt this was the right time to change course in her professional life and look outside the world of law enforcement” after Payne announced his own upcoming resignation last month.
Thomas had been in the role for about three months.
Payne will not hire a new chief of staff, instead leaving that up to the next chief of the department to decide, according to the letter.
“I will leave that important decision to the next chief to choose the person he or she believes will provide the best support to the goals, leadership and culture of the department going forward,” Payne wrote.
Until then, Payne says he plans to work with his executive staff to help move forward the initiatives Thomas had been working on.
Thomas was tasked with the formulation and administration of the GRPD budget. She was also expected to play a part in supporting GRPD’s community engagement, continuous improvement and change management initiatives.
The chief of staff position was created as part of GRPD'S strategic plan.
Before coming to GRPD, Thomas spent eight years leading the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, a role she was fired from after harsh public criticism of her handling of multiple protests in 2020 -- specifically when violence broke out between the Proud Boys and counterprotestors.
Read Payne's full letter here:
Karianne Thomas, my chief of staff, resigned today, effective immediately and I wanted to share this news with you directly.
This was entirely Karianne’s decision. When she joined us, she was excited about working with me and advancing the work of our strategic plan. To be a successful chief of staff in any organization, the relationship with the person you are supporting is an essential element of the job. Karianne and I enjoyed just such a relationship but after I announced my impending retirement, she felt this was the right time to change course in her professional life and look outside the world of law enforcement.
Because the qualities and expertise a leader looks for in a chief of staff are unique, at this time, I will not be hiring a new chief of staff. I will leave that important decision to the next chief to choose the person he or she believes will provide the best support to the goals, leadership, and culture of the department going forward.
In the interim, I will be working with my executive staff to ensure we make continued progress on the many initiatives Karianne was responsible for leading. She has been an excellent asset both to the department and to the community, and we were fortunate to have had her expertise, even for a brief time. I hope you will join me in wishing her the best in her future endeavors.