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GRPD hires former Kalamazoo police chief to serve as new chief of staff

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Posted at 1:19 PM, Jun 03, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Police Department has hired its first chief of staff.

GRPD Chief Eric Payne says Karianne Thomas, former Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety chief, will serve as the department's first chief of staff.

In her new role, Thomas will be tasked with the formulation and administration of the GRPD budget. She will also play a part in supporting GRPD’s community engagement, continuous improvement and change management initiatives.

“Karianne will be an asset in helping us continue to improve the GRPD,” Payne said. “Her demonstrated commitment to building relationships, fiscal management, and transparency makes her the ideal person to help us continue our mission to be a more effective, inclusive, and trusted police department.”

The position was created as part of GRPD’s strategic plan.

Thomas spent eight years leading the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. While there, she created the Kalamazoo Strategic Operations Center (K-SOC) which uses data for resource deployment, staffing, investigations, and local emergency management.

Chief Payne says she also managed the Office of Professional Standards, including internal and external complaint investigations, and was responsible for managing the recruitment and hiring of diverse, community-focused staff.

“I look forward to joining the amazing team at GRPD and helping them continue the implementation of the strategic plan,” Thomas said.

Thomas served on the Michigan Commission of Law Enforcement Standards and on the boards of the Local Initiatives Support Coalition and the National Network for Safe Communities/Group Violence Intervention.