COLUMBUS (WCMH) – For the first time, the people of Columbus heard from the four finalists in the running to become the next chief of police.
They made their pitch to the public in a virtual town hall Wednesday night.
Elaine Bryant from Detroit; Derrick Diggs from Fort Myers; Avery Moore from Dallas; and Ivonne Roman from Newark, all making their case that they can carry out Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther’s vision for a cultural shift within the Columbus Division of Police.
The candidates agreed on several things, like the importance of a community-based approach to preventing crime.
“We talk about community policing, but we forget the very first word, which is community,” said Moore, currently the assistant chief for the Dallas Police Department.
“In Florida here, we just opened six neighborhood stations, all to try to make sure we have the opportunity for our community members to get to know our officers,” said Diggs, chief of the Fort Myers Police Department.
“Community engagement has to be your management philosophy in everything you do,” said Roman, co-founder of 30×30 Initiative and former chief of Newark, New Jersey, police.
“It’s not just about an opportunity to take a picture,” said Bryant, deputy chief with the Detroit Police Department. “It’s not about a one-moment situation.”
But some varied on their approach to policing.
Roman, for example, emphasized the importance of research-driven solutions.
“We’re data rich,” she said. “We can analyze our own data and see what actions we’re engaging in that produce disparities that are harming our relationships.”
Diggs and Bryant said they’d depend heavily on advisory and oversight boards.
“Embrace civilian oversight, open up the books, work with the oversight committee — whatever type of oversight committee you have,” Diggs said. “We have nothing to hide.”
“You cannot come in thinking that you know all the issues, that you know everything that’s going on,” Bryant said. “You have to trust your community advisory board, and I would go a step further – I’d have a police officer advisory board.”
All four candidates pledged to make the Columbus Division of Police more diverse while supporting equality, morale, and accountability.
“It’s not about enforcement,” Moore said. “It’s about engagement, and that’s great. Let’s go out and say hi, smile at people, have a good time. When it’s time to put the bad guys in jail, we will.”
Ginther plans to name a new chief of police by the end of May.
Watch the full meeting in the video player above.