Eric Winstrom named Grand Rapids police chief
Published on February 01, 2022
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – City Manager Mark Washington has selected Eric Winstrom, a commander of the Chicago Police Department, to serve as Grand Rapids’ next police chief. Winstrom is expected to begin his work leading the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) on March 7, replacing Police Chief Eric Payne who will retire from the department March 4.
Washington will formally introduce Winstrom at 3 p.m. this afternoon, Tuesday, Feb. 1. The televised event will air on Comcast Channel 26 and be live streamed on the City of Grand Rapids Facebook page and YouTube channel.
City Manager Mark Washington made his selection following an exhaustive national search, transparent interview process and robust community engagement period. The search garnered interest from senior law enforcement professionals from across the country. Three finalists who best matched the qualities outlined in the community-informed profile participated in a series of six interview panels with more than 50 members of the community and a public forum which was viewed more than 4,100 times. Following the forum, the public submitted its feedback on the candidates.
“The City is fortunate to hire someone as qualified and talented as Eric Winstrom to serve as our next police chief who is a certified law enforcement officer and attorney. I look forward to working with him to continue to advance policing and to continue our journey to strengthen trust between the community and our police department,” Washington said.
In addition to impressions he gained during the personal interactions and interviews he had with the candidates over two days, Washington said he also carefully considered opinions garnered from the community interview panels and the more than 600 comments from participants who completed the community survey before ultimately making his decision.
“I am very pleased with the candidates we attracted from across the state and country and the community-engaged and transparent process that was undertaken to select Commander Winstrom,” Washington said. “I am thankful for the hundreds of members of the community that took the time to provide feedback, as well as elevate their questions and concerns with each candidate. I used that input to directly discuss areas of community concerns with Commander Winstrom prior to selecting him and it only solidified my belief that he is the ideal candidate to help us achieve the goals we’ve established for the department and the community. Additionally, I had favorable feedback from representatives from Chicago Police Department and community leaders about Eric Winstrom’s ability to effectively lead officers as well as help all community members. He was frequently praised for going above expectations and often working unceasingly for justice and improving community.”
Winstrom said he is eager to begin the next stage of his career leading the GRPD and to continue the department’s commitment to community policing.
“I am prepared to bring my significant experience in leadership and organizational improvement, tireless work ethic, high-energy and knowledge to lead the Grand Rapids Police Department. I am very optimistic that we can work together to make the city a safer place and become the most trusted police department in the country.
“I am committed to the department’s pledge to ensure officers are professionally trained and spend their time in a way that has a positive impact on the city in a manner that is supported by the community. I intend to do everything possible to continue to make Grand Rapids one of the safest cities in the country and build community trust to ensure all people feel safe and are safe at all times throughout our community.
“From the conversations I’ve had with everyone I met during the interview process and with the research I’ve done, this city is serious about getting policing right and for somebody in police leadership, this is something I want to be a part of. I can’t wait to get started and look forward to working alongside our command staff, officers and the community to continue the department’s good work and to enhance policing in Grand Rapids.”
Winstrom comes to Grand Rapids having served in the Chicago Police Department (CPD) for over 20 years in various patrol, tactical, investigative, and administrative positions. He last served as an executive on the CPD Leadership Team and led the Area 5 Detective Division where he oversaw a staff of 200, including 40 homicide detectives. Geographically, Area 5 covers approximately one-fifth of the City of Chicago including the Northwest Side and O'Hare Airport. His previous assignments included teaching at the Chicago Police Academy, heading CPD's citywide child sex crimes investigation unit, serving as a supervising attorney in the legal affairs division, assisting in the creation of the office of reform management, overseeing policy and procedure for the department, and serving as captain of the 400-person 9th District Station. He holds a BS in Administration of Justice from Rutgers University and a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School. Winstrom is a member of the Illinois Bar Association and is a court recognized expert on police policy, use of force, criminal investigations, and the Fourth Amendment.
Winstrom said the success he had as a commander in Chicago came through working tirelessly to build relationships with individuals and community groups who both backed and challenged the department. It’s an approach he intends to continue in Grand Rapids.
“By talking together and discussing our differences and points of view, we can come away with a better understanding of how our actions and attitudes can affect those around us, and how we can all make positive changes,” he said. “As chief, I will embrace opportunities to have open, honest communication with all stakeholders in Grand Rapids.
“I have a great appreciation for Grand Rapids. My wife, my eight- and ten-year-olds and I are excited about relocating to West Michigan.”