After three months as the Grand Rapids Police Department Chief of Staff, former Kalamazoo Police Chief, Karianne Thomas, has resigned.

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The decision to employ Thomas as GRPD Chief of Staff in June was met with pushback from community members. Advocacy group Justice For Black Lives held a rally to protest Thomas' hiring.

Prior to working for the GRPD, Thomas was fired from her position as Kalamazoo Police Chief. She and the department were criticized for their handling of an August 2020 Proud Boys rally in Kalamazoo that turned violent and police were late to intervene.

Despite the criticism, GRPD Chief Eric Payne said at the time that Thomas was the best person for the job after an extensive interview process:

Karianne Thomas brings a high level of professional achievement and an experienced perspective that will benefit the department and the community. Her hiring represents another milestone in the efforts to transform policing in Grand Rapids.

Chief Payne recently announced his own retirement early next year.

According to Wood TV 8, Payne announced the news of Thomas' departure in a letter to stakeholders on Friday:

[Resigning] was entirely Karianne’s decision...When she joined us, she was excited about working with me and advancing the work of our strategic plan. To be a successful chief of staff in any organization, the relationship with the person you are supporting is an essential element of the job. Karianne and I enjoyed just such a relationship but after I announced my impending retirement, she felt this was the right time to change course in her professional life and look outside the world of law enforcement.

Payne says he won't be filling the GRPD Chief of Staff position, leaving that up to his predecessor.

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