COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s capital city has narrowed the list of candidates for the job of police chief to nine, all of them from outside the agency as promised by the Columbus mayor.
City officials, including Public Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr., were interviewing candidates this week with the goal of a selection by month’s end. A public forum introducing three to four finalists is scheduled for May 19.
Mayor Andrew Ginther, a Democrat, has repeatedly said an outside candidate is needed to enact broad cultural changes within the agency. The city has also created a first-ever assistant chief post to allow the next chief to bring his or her own team.
Among the finalists is Perry Tarrant, the former assistant Seattle police chief and the 2019 runner-up during the last search. In January, Ginther forced out the man he chose over Tarrant, Chief Thomas Quinlan, saying he’d lost confidence in Quinlan’s ability to make needed changes.
The search is underway at a time of historic reckoning for the department of about 1,900 sworn officers. Ginther and other officials invited the Justice Department last month to review the agency for deficiencies and racial disparities in several areas.
The department is under scrutiny for recent fatal shootings of Black people by white officers, including the death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant on April 20. And earlier this month, a federal judge ordered the city to alter the way it responds to mass protests, saying officers ran “amok” during protests over racial injustice and police brutality last summer.
The union representing Columbus officers has criticized what it calls politicians’ “constantly vilifying officers.”