The City of Akron has narrowed its search for a new Police Chief down to four candidates, none of whom are from within the department, or even the state, for that matter.
Per Mayor Dan Horrigan the final four are Eric Hawkins, chief of the Albany Police Department in New York, Joseph Sullivan, recently retired deputy commissioner of the Philly Police Department, Stephen Mylett, chief of the Bellevue Police Department in Washington, and Christopher Davis, deputy chief of the Portland Police Bureau in Oregon.
The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that Fraternal Order of Police Akron Lodge 7 president Clay Cozart says the union is disappointed that the city didn't choose at least one internal candidate as a finalist. Based on the response to a community survey, two-thirds of Akron residents that responded said their experience with APD was positive, to which Cozart responded that someone within the department is doing something right.
See the full press release from Mayor Horrigan's office below:
(City of Akron) Akron, Ohio, June 8, 2021 – Today, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan made several announcements related to the final phase of the national search for a new chief of the Akron Police Department, which will be focused on community engagement—including releasing the names of the top four candidates, the date of a virtual community town hall, and the results of the City’s community survey.
The Chief of Police position became vacated with the retirement of Chief Ken Ball in February 2021. The national search was launched in early March, with the assistance of the consulting firm Ralph Andersen & Associates. Applications were accepted through late April, and initial vetting was done in May. The first round of interviews were completed by Mayor Horrigan and a diverse internal team of cabinet members last week, which resulted in the selection of the top four candidates.
“I am impressed with the pool of qualified candidates who applied to be our next Chief of Police,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “I am looking for an individual who has the experience, temperament, and integrity to drive this department forward. We face significant challenges related to violent crime and strained community trust, and we need a chief who places a primary value on transparency, inclusion, and crime prevention, and who is prepared to drive change where needed. They must be a listener and a leader at the highest level.”
The final four candidates are:
- Eric David Hawkins, Chief of the Albany (NY) Police Department
- Joseph P. Sullivan, recently retired Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia (PA) Police Department
- Stephen L. Mylett, Chief of the Bellevue (WA) Police Department
- Christopher A. Davis, Deputy Chief of the Portland (OR) Police Bureau
To help drive the priorities of the interviews and the final selection, Mayor Horrigan surveyed the community about the most pressing issues facing Akron with respect to policing. The survey was open between March 9, 2021 and April 23, 2021, and a total of 1,427 responses were collected.
When asked what priorities they thought the Akron Police Department should focus on, the top three results were: reducing police use of force; reducing racial disparities, and community-oriented policing. A large majority of respondents wanted an increased value placed on community relationships and de-escalation techniques used by officers. Participants would like APD to focus more on visibility, communication, and respect.
“Policing is a difficult profession – one that requires high levels of patience, compassion, and preparation for situations that vary from routine traffic accidents to active shooter scenarios,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan added. “We ask much of our police department, and in return they are granted unique and important powers in the community. Data indicates that only 0.13% of interactions between citizens and the Akron Police result in any use of force, and only .024% of interactions result in any citizen complaint. However, it is clear from these survey results that our community wants to further reduce the number of confrontational interactions between citizens and police and wants to strengthen relationships with the APD – but that first requires trust. Our community wants a police force that looks like them, respects them, and protects them. And our next Chief of Police must understand, value, and meet the expectations of the citizens we serve.”
A copy of the survey report is available here.