Dowagiac to host Chief George L. Grady Police Station dedication ceremony

Published 1:45 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

DOWAGIAC — The City of Dowagiac will honor the life and legacy of Chief George Grady by dedicating the Chief George L. Grady Police Station with a ceremony this month.

The event takes place at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 24 at City Hall Park at Dowagiac City Hall 241 S. Front Street. The community is invited to join.

On Aug. 16, 1965, George Grady made history with his appointment as Chief of Police of the City of Dowagiac. He became the first African American Police Chief in the State of Michigan and the second in the United States. 

The dedication ceremony will feature remarks from former Grand Rapids Chief of Police Eric Payne, a Dowagiac native who was appointed Chief of Police in 2019 after 32 years with the Department. In those years, Payne served in many areas of Grand Rapids and grew through the ranks, including: patrol, vice unit, major case team, watch commander, detective, vice, and forensic services units. In September 2017, he was promoted to deputy police chief of operations.

Grady was born and raised in Dowagiac before joining the Navy during the Korean War. He served as a deep-sea diver during his time in Korea, one of the first African Americans to perform that duty. When he returned to Dowagiac after the war, he joined the city’s Police Department.

In August 1964, the City of Dowagiac named Grady Acting Chief of Police. The City made it official one year later with its historic appointment of Grady as Chief of Police. Grady spent ten years as Chief of Police, leading the department during a tumultuous time in American history. Chief Grady stepped down in 1974 due to health problems and died in 1977.

Longtime residents and officers who served under Chief Grady remember him as a fair police chief who sought equal justice for all under the law. His appointment made headlines across the nation in 1965, which paved the way for communities across the nation to hire and promote African Americans to positions of power.