GRPD chief of staff Karianne Thomas resigning

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The chief of staff for the Grand Rapids Police Department has resigned.

Police Chief Eric Payne announced in a letter to community stakeholders Friday that Karianne Thomas, his chief of staff, is resigning.

Thomas was hired in June of this year. The hire of the former public safety director for Kalamazoo was met with controversy, including the group Justice for Black Lives protesting the hire.

Payne said Thomas felt it was the right time after he announced his upcoming retirement.

“This was entirely Karianne’s decision,” Payne said in the letter. “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.”

In the letter Payne also praised her work during the few months she worked at the department.

“She has been an excellent asset both to the department and to the community, and we were fortunate to have had her expertise, even for a brief time,” he said. “I hope you will join me in wishing her the best in her future endeavors.”

Payne said he will not be looking for her replacement but will leave that up to the next GRPD chief.

Thomas was fired from her job as KDPS chief in 2020 as the department faced criticism for its handling of racial inequality protests, downtown vandalism and a Proud Boys rally.

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