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Grand Rapids hires veteran Chicago cop as next police chief

Incoming Grand Rapids, Michigan police chief Eric Winstrom
City of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Incoming Grand Rapids, Michigan police chief Eric Winstrom

The City of Grand Rapids is hiring a new police chief.

Eric Winstrom comes from the Chicago Police Department, where he spent more than 20 years, most recently as a police commander. He’s replacing outgoing Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne, who is retiring next month.

Winstrom is scheduled to start his new job March 7. He said he plans a busy first month learning about Michigan’s second-largest city.

“I’m a cop. I’ve been a cop for long time, so I know a lot about policing, but I’ll be brand new here in Grand Rapids. There’s a lot of people I need to meet,” said Winstrom. “I’m going to be busy. I’m going to be tired, but it’s going to be wonderful.”

Grand Rapids new police chief brings experience building relationships with individuals and community groups who both backed and challenged law enforcement policies, city officials said. Winstrom said that's an approach he intends to continue in Grand Rapids.

Winstrom said he also supports programs that seek to divert people away from jail for certain crimes.

“There are people that society is better off them being in jail. But ideally that’s just not the case across Grand Rapids, across the country,” Winstrom told reporters Tuesday. “The less people in jail, generally speaking, the better.”

Winstrom’s said his older brother was sentenced to a lengthy jail sentence for a small amount of cocaine, when Winstrom himself was only 11 year old.

City officials said Grand Rapids’ new top cop is an expert on the use of force and the Fourth Amendment, which bans unreasonable searches.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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