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Columbus Mayor Ginther announces Elaine Bryant as new chief of police

Bryant will replace Thomas Quinlan, who served as chief of police from February 2019 to January of this year.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther has announced Elaine Bryant as the city’s next chief of police

During a press conference on Wednesday, Ginther referred to Bryant in part as 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," Ginther added. 

Bryant will replace Thomas Quinlan, who served as chief of police from February 2019 to January of this year, when he was asked to step down by Ginther.

In the months following, the city invested more than $38,000 toward a nationwide search for the next candidate. 

Prior to her new role, Bryant served as a deputy chief of the Detroit Police Department and has 21 years of law enforcement under her belt. 

During her time with Detroit PD, Bryant served as a liaison between faith-based organizations and the department and was also responsible for creating community relations projects with the city. 

She also led the Domestic Violence Unit during her time in Detroit, according to Ginther's office. 

Bryant graduated from Central Michigan University and has a master's degree in criminal justice administration from Bowling Green State University. 

“I am deeply honored to serve as Columbus’ next police chief,” Bryant said Wednesday. “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.”

During a town hall on May 19, Bryant promised to increase community reactions and police morale if selected for the position. 

"You have to humanize that badge," Bryant said. "A lot of people look at police officers and say 'oh, they're a cop.' They're mothers, they're fathers, they're uncles, they're brothers." 

On Wednesday, Bryant said she already knows building trust, both from officers and community members, will be a challenge. 

“I'm going to try to hit every precinct every zone. I want to meet with them, I want to talk with them. I want to go to roll calls, I want to get into the community. There is so much I want to do,” Bryant said.

Bryant admitted her alarm at the city's violent crime rate, saying she thinks prevention is key. 

"When you do your analysis and figure out where the crime is happening, you try to get ahead of it. You don't want to chase it,” she said.

This marks the first time the City of Columbus has hired a police chief from outside the division. Bryant also makes the first Black woman to lead the division. 

As part of the training process, Bryant will have to become certified through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, as is custom for those transferring from out of state.  

“I will not lead in fear," said Bryant. "Cops count and leadership matters." 

Interim Chief Mike Woods will stay on to lead the division until Bryant transitions into the role. 

Statement from Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin

"I welcome Chief Elaine Bryant to her new role in Columbus. Drastic reform is necessary to rebuild trust between officers and residents across our neighborhoods. At the same time, we all need to work together to interrupt the record-pace violence we've seen on our streets this year.

"Council will continue to be deliberate in our efforts to reimagine public safety in our City, and I look forward to having a partner in this effort in Chief Elaine Bryant."

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