Winstrom takes over as chief, talks accountability and leadership

Collaborator: Rachael Schuit
Published: 03/11/2022, 2:28 AM
Edited: 03/14/2022, 2:05 PM

Photo Credit: Grand Rapids Police Department

(GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.) After taking the oath of office on March 7, Eric Winstrom is officially the new police chief for the City of Grand Rapids. 

Winstrom comes to Grand Rapids after more than 20 years with the Chicago Police Department, where he served in multiple positions including leading the Area 5 Detective team.

There he oversaw a staff of 200, including 40 homicide detectives.

Winstrom said he believes his experience in Chicago will help him as he leads in Grand Rapids. 

"Grand Rapids is not a small town," said Winstrom. "It's a real city with real city problems and so a lot of what I've seen in Chicago translates very well here. As challenges pop up here that maybe we haven't seen before it's probably something I've experienced out there and hopefully I'll be able to bring my knowledge."

For Winstrom, a focus on accountability will be key as he heads the department. 

"Where we do something wrong, we want to be transparent about it and people have to know that officers will be held accountable for misconduct," said Winstrom. "That's the very basis to build the trust that we need to gain the community's support."

Another way Winstrom plans to build relationships with the community is by getting out and meeting people in person. 

"It's getting out in the neighborhoods, getting with the neighborhood organizations, having them tell me what they want from me," Winstrom said. 

Winstrom also acknowledged the challenge law enforcement agencies nationwide are having when it comes to recruiting. 

"It's going to take work to make sure that we're taking advantage of opportunities, like reaching out on social media for recruiting opportunities, attending job fairs, military job fairs, making connections with for example here in Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Public Schools," said Winstrom. "To start the relationships early. To say maybe a career in policing is for you down the road" 

Despite challenges with the pandemic and social unrest in the last two years, Winstrom says he remains committed to serving in a leadership position. 

"I've never lost my love for policing," said Winstrom. "We know there's going to be challenges. Some challenges sneak up on you and surprise you. Nobody saw the pandemic coming or the challenges surrounding policing that that led to or the civil unrest but just to do good for the community served, it's a great feeling."


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