COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The new Chief of the Columbus Division of Police has been on the job for seven days now.
Chief Elaine Bryant says in that time, she has already been getting plenty of feedback from her officers and the community about what needs to be done.
In her first sit-down interview since taking the helm of CPD, Chief Bryant talked about some of the early challenges she’s faced. Those include trying to stop the record-setting amount of violent and gun crimes happening in Columbus.
“We all want the same thing. Everybody wants neighborhoods to be safe. Everybody wants guns off the street. So we do run across a criminal who has these histories, we have to make sure we’re keeping them off the street,” said Chief Bryant.
She also said the division will start some new proactive measures.
One of those measures is a new parks detail program which started Tuesday, which stems from Bryant’s first day on the job in Columbus.
Bryant first appeared in front of cameras as chief on June 25, the same day 17-year-old Makenzi Ridley had been shot and killed near the Far East Recreation Center.
“Very much a somber reality that this job is something that I absolutely have to dive into and make sure that I’m addressing the issues immediately and on the forefront,” she said.
Now seven days into her tenure, Bryant said violent crime is her top priority, especially when children are involved.
“So what we did is created a parks detail,” Bryant said, adding that patrols of the city’s parks will increase.
The initiative evaluated available crime data for the last six months for locations in and around area parks and community centers, identifying locations in need of additional patrols, the department said. The patrols will be evaluated weekly and adjusted as needed.
“We’re going to focus on parks that have high attendance,” she said. “We’re gonna focus on parks that have had some issues over the past few months, and we’re going to make sure there are officers there that are going to be patrolling the area. All of these officers are bike trained, so they’ll be out not just in patrol cars. They’ll be out on foot, out on their bikes, engaging the community, engaging the youth.”
Engaging the community is part of what the chief calls a front-end approach to fighting crime. All of the officers assigned to parks detail are members of the department’s Community Response Team, whose responsibilities include engaging with the community to address quality of life issues.
“What we’re trying to do is ensure that we are getting in on the front end of it, and addressing any issues that may not necessarily rise to violent crime issues, but some quality of life issues that may, in turn, progress and turn into something violent,” Bryant said.
The new initiative also puts more command staff on the streets overnight.
“Addressing specific issues and going to certain areas where there’s crime or there’s things going on, so in real-time, they’re going to be able to make a decision and assess if the necessary resources are there,” she said.