COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant started in a tumultuous time for the department after protests following George Floyd's death and facing high levels of violence. She says the first year was challenging, but rewarding.
“It's been phenomenal. A lot of hard work, we have a lot of work still to do,” Bryant said.
Her hire was historic, becoming the first Black woman to take on the position.
One year into the job, Bryant is smiling about what she has been able to accomplish. A vast difference from her first day in the position — the day after a shooting at the Far East Side Recreation Center where 17-year-old Makenzi Ridley was shot and killed.
“I was enraged and devasted,” Bryant said on her day of the homicide.
On her first day, Bryant said preventing gun violence, especially among youth, was her top priority.
When asked what the most challenging aspect of being chief is, Bryant responded, “The work. Obviously, the challenge is the work, ensuring that we are meeting the needs and expectations of every entire community.”
The city saw a single-year high for homicides in 2021. Homicides are down this year compared to last year. Bryant attributes that to her hard-working officers.
“I think we've been doing a phenomenal job in being able to get the projects done. The proof is in the pudding when you look at our stats, look at our closure rates, crime is decreasing. Obviously, we want to do more, and we are going to do more,” she said.
Her mission was to be more active in the community. She says that will continue to be a work in process.
“I've been grateful for the partnerships, grateful for the officers. They have been phenomenal. The community has been very welcoming. I'm excited for what's to come,” Bryant said.
She says in the next year she's hoping to continue a downward trend in crime.
“Hopefully more significant reduction in crime, more community projects we want to do. We hope to continue this momentum and continue community engagement,” Bryant said.
With the chief celebrating her one-year anniversary, it also means she is officially off probation. Bryant has four more years, with an option for another four years after that.