New police chief embracing change and diversity

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Elaine Bryant

On May 2, Mayor Andrew Ginther announced Elaine Bryant as the first-ever African American woman and external candidate to serve as chief of police for the city of Columbus. Bryant is currently the deputy chief of police for the city of Detroit, Mich and was selected after an extensive national search and community engagement process.

“Elaine Bryant is a transformational leader with sound judgment and considerable experience, an effective advocate for change whose actions are rooted in compassion, empathy and engagement with those whom she serves and leads. I am confident that she is the right leader at the right time for the city of Columbus,” said Ginther.

Bryant is a 21-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department where she served in multiple capacities, including patrol, investigations and administration. During that time, she ascended through the ranks – having been promoted five times from patrol officer to deputy chief – and coordinated Detroit’s response to several high-profile events, including the 2006 Super Bowl.

Bryant supported efforts to completely overhaul investigations in compliance with a Department of Justice decree, led the Domestic Violence Unit, worked in the Equal Employment Opportunity Office and Internal Affairs Unit, collaborated with Detroit’s civilian oversight board, and created and expanded numerous community relations projects to strengthen ties between police and residents.

Bryant holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Bowling Green State University.

“I am deeply honored to serve as Columbus’ next police chief,” said Bryant. “This is a pivotal moment to be stepping into this role and I am firmly committed to embracing change, diversity, and clear and open communication to improve safety, enhance accountability and rebuild trust between officers and the community.”

“As our city continues to see an increase in violent crime, it is vitally important that we advance the work of implementing a 21st-century community-policing model,” said Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus. “Chief Bryant has a proven track record of diversifying and transforming law enforcement to improve effectiveness and quality of outcomes. I look forward to seeing her make a similar impact in Columbus.”

Bryant was chosen from a pool of 34 applicants and rose to the top after extensive interviews and a community town hall.

The announcement of a new chief follows several actions by city officials to reform the Columbus Division of Police. Within the last year, Ginther seated the city’s first-ever voter-approved Civilian Police Review Board; issued an Executive Order directing the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation to independently investigate all fatal use-of-force cases and deaths in police custody; changed use-of-force policies in response to non-violent protests; and enacted “Andre’s Law” to ensure proper care for anyone injured by law enforcement.

Last month, the mayor unveiled the Alternative Response Pilot Program, which will embed social workers and mental health nurses within the city’s 911 dispatch center to triage non-emergency calls involving mental health issues, substance abuse and medical conditions that can be better addressed by other city resources or local social services.

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