COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Robert Clark has been named the new Director of Public Safety for the city of Columbus.

Mayor Andrew Ginther made the announcement at a news conference Friday morning. 

Ginther said Clark has served in law enforcement for 35 years in roles including criminal justice professor at National University in San Diego, and former FBI assistant special agent in charge.

Clark graduated from Youngstown University and became a Youngstown police officer in 1986, before joining the FBI in 1995. During that time, Clark worked in the FBI’s Los Angeles field office and was involved in anti-gang initiatives. Clark also worked for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service before returning to the United States in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. He is currently a doctoral candidate in organizational leadership and social justice at Adler University in Chicago.

Clark fills the opening left by the retirement of Ned Pettus Jr., who worked for the city for 40 years.

“We need steadfast leadership,” Ginther said about the search for a new director. “We realized we already found the best candidate during our search for police chief.”

Clark was one of nine people who was interviewed for the position that was ultimately awarded to Elaine Bryant.

“I am happy to be home,” Clark said about being back in his home state of Ohio. “I know there’s much work ahead of us. I will be seeking out those opportunities to talk with police and fire leaders so that I can listen, I can learn, and I can help our chiefs lead.”

For the announcement, Mayor Ginther was joined by Emily Buster with Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services, and Pastor Frederick LaMarr of Family Missionary Baptist Church.