Grand Rapids Chief of Police, Eric Payne, is retiring. The long-time respected and admired officer and Chief since 2019, is the first African American to hold the office of Chief, but has said that after 35 years with GRPD, it is time for new blood.

So, the search began last year for his replacement. After vetting more than 30 candidates in a nationwide search, Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington has announced the three candidates in the running to be the next Grand Rapids police chief.

City Manager Mark Washington said via a release that the candidates are Battle Creek Chief of Police Jim Blocker, retired Milwaukee Police Inspector Jutiki Jackson and Chicago Police Commander Eric Winstrom.

So, what is the next step? More community involvement. Everyone is invited to meet the three candidates during a public forum on January 19 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. in the 9th-floor city commission chambers in City Hall.

You can also watch the event on Comcast Channel 26 and stream it live on the city’s website.

During the public forum, candidates will provide brief remarks and answer questions from the community. Anyone is invited to ask questions live at the forum, via the livestream chat or in advance via an online form.

So, what are these gentlemen are all about?

Battle Creek Chief of Police Jim Blocker

Blocker has served with the Battle Creek Police Department for 25 years in various positions. He retains the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army serving in the Michigan Army National Guard. He’s served multiple tours of duty. He’s earned two Bronze Stars, two Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, the NATO ribbon, and the Combat Action Badge. He earned a master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University, a bachelors from Cornerstone College and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Police Executive Research Forum's (PERF) Senior Management Institute for Police.

Retired Milwaukee Police Inspector Jutiki Jackson

Jackson has served 26 years with the Milwaukee Police Department. He spent ten years as an officer before being promoted to sergeant, lieutenant and then captain as a 7th District Commander. Jackson was promoted to inspector in 2016 and became a member of the police chief’s executive command team. Before transitioning to the private sector, his last assignment was in the patrol bureau. He provided executive-level oversight to the 1,400 members assigned to seven district stations, the neighborhood task force, and the office of community outreach. Jackson joined the National Basketball Association as a security director in 2019 and currently holds a leadership position. He earned an executive MBA and a BA in leadership studies at Marquette University.

Chicago Police Commander Eric Winstrom

Winstrom has served in the Chicago Police Department for more than 20 years in various positions. He serves as an executive on the CPD Leadership Team and leads the Area 5 Detective Division where he oversees a staff of 200, including 40 homicide detectives. He previously taught at the Chicago Police Academy, leading the department’s citywide child sex crimes unit, serving as a supervising attorney in the legal affairs division. Winstron earned a BS in administration of justice from Rutgers University and a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School.


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