COLUMBUS (WCMH) – It’s now official: Elaine Bryant will be the next chief of Columbus Police.
Bryant currently serves as a deputy chief in Detroit and will be coming to the Capital City after more than 20 years with that department.
“I am honored and I am honored to be chosen as the next chief of police for this great city of Columbus,” Bryant said during a press conference announcing her hiring Wednesday.
Bryant said she sent a message to Columbus’ police officers: the first order of business will be trust.
“I’ve faced many obstacles in my journey,” she said during the press conference announcing her hiring. “Some because of my gender and some because of my race. I’ve never let these obstacles stand in my way.”
Bryant will not only be the first chief hired from outside the division, but also the first Black woman to be Columbus Chief of Police.
With the position, Bryant will be able to bring her own assistant chiefs to the force if she wants. She said she has not made any decisions, but added it’s absolutely something she is considering.
Following months of protests, police shootings of Black community members, strained police-community relations, and what’s on pace to be another record-setting year for homicides, Bryant knows she is taking a position already facing a lot of challenges.
“”You have to be accessible to the community,” Bryant said. “You have to be willing to listen to their concerns and involved them in that process.”
Bryant said there is a lot she’s done in Detroit that can be helpful in Columbus. However, she said she is not going to come to Columbus and try to make it Detroit.
“I’m not coming in here trying to tell them they’re doing everything wrong because they’re not,” she said. “This is a phenomenal police department, it’s a phenomenal city. I just want to enhance and improve on what’s already being done.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther called Bryant a change agent, saying part of the reason he chose her is her ability to work with all community members.
“I think that spirit and that ability to work with officers and the community and to bridge that gap is a big part of what she’ll be doing and why I’m so excited she’s here,” he said.
Bryant said finding solutions to all of the problems facing Columbus goes back to trust.
“Gaining the trust of all of our communities, not just one part of the community, all of our communities, because we’re going to need them to be able to battle everything we’re dealing with in this city,” Bryant said.
Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin issued the following statement after Bryant’s hiring was announced:
“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.Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin
“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.”
To address the high levels of crime in the city, Bryant said she wants to look at more proactive ways to prevent crime and get involved in kids’ lives in positive ways at younger ages.