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Grand Rapids names Eric Winstrom as next chief of police

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Posted at 9:09 AM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 15:22:49-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — West Michigan's largest city has a new police chief. Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington announced Eric Winstrom as the next chief on Tuesday.

The decision ends months of searching for a replacement after Chief Eric Payne announced in 2021 he would retire in 2022. Winstrom was one of three named finalists.

The Grand Rapids Police Department held a news conference Tuesday afternoon following the announcement:

“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.

Winstrom will be introduced during a press conference Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. You can watch the press conference live on FOX 17 and the FOX 17 Facebook page.

The pick of Winstrom comes after the local NAACP chapter called on the city to reset the search.

Winstrom previously worked with the Chicago Police Department for more than 20 years. He served as a patrol officer, on tactical teams, investigative units, and in administrative positions. His last role had him overseeing a staff of 200 people, including 40 homicide detectives. Winstrom also taught at the Chicago Police Academy, lead the child sex crimes investigation unit, and served as a supervising attorney in the legal affairs division.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Winstrom asked a Chicago-area ADA for a "favor" when charges were not issued for a suspect in the shooting death of a 7-year-old girl. The prosecutor claimed there was insufficient evidence, the Sun-Times reports.

The Chicago Police Department stood by Winstrom, saying they are simply seeking justice for the girl's family.

Some of his notable actions during moments of high racial tension include handing Black Lives Matter protests in 2014, where he says in his cover letter they allowed the community to express their first-amendment rights without using force.

Winstrom was called back to the command position from a different role in 2020 to help the department handle civil unrest after the murder of George Floyd. He says he worked dusk till dawn to restore order to the city.

“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,” Winstrom said in a release. “As chief, I will embrace opportunities to have open, honest communication with all stakeholders in Grand Rapids.

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.

Eric Winstrom Cover Letters and Resumes by WXMI on Scribd

Winstrom's first day as Chief of Police in Grand Rapids will be March 7. Current Chief Eric Payne's last day is set for March 4.

“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," Winstrom said.

This is a developing story. Stay with FOX 17 for the latest news.

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