GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne grew to become emotional at his retirement celebration whereas thanking his household for dealing with hardships that got here lockstep along with his job.
“What you needed to endure. Individuals attacking you due to me,” he stated.
“That’s been the hardest half. It wasn’t being out in the course of the road with 3,000 individuals screaming at me. Household was all the time on my thoughts, so, thanks,” Payne stated, gesturing to his spouse and kids.
Payne ended his 34-year profession with Grand Rapids police on Friday, March 4. The retirement ceremony included accolades from different native police chiefs, the FBI, DEA, Secret Service and Michigan State Police, in addition to native authorities chiefs.
A brand new chief, Eric Winstrom, a Chicago Police Division commander, takes over starting Monday.
Payne talked about his profession and two-and-a-half yr tenure as chief, saying a most important objective over many years was merely to construct relationships and construct belief.
The coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide strife that got here with the demise of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, introduced problems to the job.
A Could 30, 2020 protest in downtown Grand Rapids advanced right into a riot that brought about greater than $2 million in injury to downtown buildings. It spurred different protests and requires police reform.
Payne stated he was all the time keen to take heed to these calling for reforms, however famous that sure ways akin to chokeholds and “no knock” warrants have lengthy been towards Grand Rapids police practices.
“That was the problem for me when screams for reform have been being made. I don’t know find out how to reform one thing we’re not doing,” he stated. “However we listened to the neighborhood and we got here up with our strategic plan and I feel that’s an excellent highway map shifting ahead.”
Payne stated he believes the division has improved since when he began.
“In handing over the division now to another person, I’m extra snug with it, as a result of I do consider we’re in a greater place,” he stated.
Payne stated the division has been ready so as to add officers within the latest funds yr, regardless of earlier calls by some to “defund” police.
“We have been capable of get by some powerful occasions and add assets to this division, extra officers to serve this neighborhood,” he stated.
Payne was the town’s first Black chief. He has labored to advertise variety and put in the town’s first feminine deputy chief.
“I totally embrace it. I wish to assume I’m not going to be the final Black chief,” he stated.
In retirement, Payne has no particular plans besides to spend extra time with household.
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