COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – During a roughly hour and a half question and answer, the Columbus community got to meet the two finalists for the city’s next police chief. Interim Chief Thomas Quinlan and former Assistant Seattle Police Chief Perry Tarrant are the two finalists. They were chosen by a search committee who reviewed 36 applications.
More than 100 questions were submitted ahead of time and there was only enough time for a handful of them to be answered. The finalists did not see the questions ahead of time.
Race relations, lack of diversity within the division of police, youth violence, gun violence, and officer health and wellness were just some of the issues addressed. Both say racism and bias are real and need to be addressed inside the department and in how policing is done.
Interim Chief Quinlan talked about the changes he’s made as interim chief since February. The Vice unit has been disbanded and the PACT Unit created. He also brought up the wellness bureau and community service subdivision. He explained why he thinks his time with the Columbus Division of Police makes him the right fit for the job.
“Taking the person out of the engine compartment and changing conductors while it’s at full speed can bring with it concerns and problems and unintended consequences,” said Quinlan in is defense of why it’s possible for a new perspective to come from inside the department.
On the other hand, Tarrant pitched why he’d be able to bring in a new perspective. He was assistant chief in Seattle for four years and served on the Tucson, AZ police department for 34 years. He said his perspective would enable to him to see what have become ‘blind spots’ in the city.
“I’ve had the opportunity to not only work for a couple different departments but to actually evaluate and look at other departments so i have a really good sense of what are good practices across the entire spectrum,” he said.
Residents who attended the forum were glad to be able to attend.
“It was absolutely awesome. I was glad to be able to come out and listen to Quinlan and Tarrant talk about the things going in Columbus,” said Anthony Scott. “Both of them seem like they’re absolutely great candidates.”
Beverly Corner is a lifelong Columbus resident.
“At the end of the day this is a wonderful forum to have and I think it’s very good to always have your community involved in what’s going to impact them in the long run,” she said.
No official timeline has been set but Mayor Ginther hopes a decision is made by the end of the year.