Elaine Bryant Officially Announced as New Chief of Police
Mayor Andrew Ginther announced Elaine Bryant as Columbus’ next chief of police. She will be the first-ever African American woman and the first external candidate to serve as chief.
Bryant is currently the deputy chief of police for the City of Detroit. Last month, she joined fellow finalists Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs and Dallas Assistant Police Chief Avery Moore as well as 30×30 Initiative Co-Founder Ivonne Roman in a virtual town hall.
On Tuesday, fellow finalist Ivonne Roman congratulated Bryant on her selection.
Responding to a reporter’s question, Ginther said the Roman “got ahead of” the city but that an announcement was already planned for Wednesday, June 2.
Ginther said Bryant is “committed to the charge” and has “extensive experience in law enforcement.” Bryant spent 21 years with the Detroit Police Department and was promoted five times, from patrol officer to deputy chief.
He said he chose Bryant over other finalists because she had experience helping lead the Detroit Police Department while under a consent decree, is from a state that also has collective bargaining laws, and is not just focused on enforcement, but empathy and engagement as well.
He also said Bryant had the “right spirit” and demonstrated a willingness to change police culture.
Bryant had family in attendance during the announcement. She thanked them for being there and also spoke of her commitment to Columbus.
“Earlier today I sent a message to the division, letting our officers know our first order of business needs to be trust,” she said. “I need to earn their trust and together, we need to rebuild the trust of our community.”
As the first African American woman chief of police, she spoke of her own experience and how her calling is to serve and “be a positive change.”
“I’ve faced many obstacles in my journey, some because of my gender, and some because of my race. I never let these obstacles stand in my way,” she said. “I’m determined to assure that issues of gender and race do not negatively impact our recruits, our officers or the residents of Columbus.”
She said the department has a lot of work to do, and that change would take “everyone involved.”
“No one person can make these changes. We need to have everyone involved to change a culture, rebuild trust and restore neighborhood safety,” she said in front of reporters. “This is going to take all of us: police officers, residents, faith leaders, business community, elected officials and even you, the media.”
Mayor Ginther emphasized that it is not on any one person to “save” the city.
“No one is coming to save us,” he said. “She alone cannot bring about the change we want and need. We all have a role to play in our city’s future.”
City officials have apparently changed the leadership structure of the division to allow Bryant to bring along her own executive staff to assist her, which was a concern brought up by candidates in 2019 during the last police chief search.
Bryant said she was interested in bringing programs currently used in Detroit, especially youth programs starting from middle school to crime initiatives, which she mention in May’s town hall.
Bryant said she spent this past weekend in Columbus speaking with community members and officers. In responding to a reporter, she said officer morale is “extremely” important, as officers are the “backbone” of the department.
More details on her transition are said to be forthcoming. Interim Police Chief Michael Woods is staying on until that transition takes place.
Watch the announcement in full via YouTube.