Perry Tarrant

Local activists are left confused and angered on why Police Chief candidate Perry Tarrant was rejected by the City a second time even though his experience and resumé – and also being “outside the Division” – seemed like a good fit to make needed change within the Division while also effectively protecting Columbus.

Activists reminded the Free Press that Tarrant has experience leading a police department under Department of Justice (DOJ) scrutiny, which Mayor Ginther has called for regarding the Columbus Division of Police.

The Seattle Police Department was under DOJ monitoring when Tarrant came on as Assistant Chief of Police, and assisted Oakland and Ferguson police departments as well when they were under DOJ monitoring.

“My penchant for constitutional policing and procedural justice were personal drivers for accepting a leadership role as Assistant Chief of Police with the Seattle Police Department, which was under a Department of Justice (DOJ) negotiated settlement agreement,” wrote Tarrant in his 2019 application letter to Mayor Ginther.

Nevertheless, Tarrant is not among the final four candidates yet just two years ago made it to the final two candidates but lost out to former Chief Quinlan who of course was demoted earlier this year. Quinlan is part of what several Columbus police officers this past summer told the Free Press is a “cabal” or a “clique” which for several decades has had a vice grip on how the Division is run and polices Columbus.

“How does the guy who was one of the two finalists not make it to the final four cut?” asked progressive activist and former City Council candidate Joe Motil. “Mayor Ginther is ultimately in charge of the police chief and his actions. My opinion is that Ginther probably couldn't control Tarrant and the FOP wouldn’t negotiate in good faith with Ginther if Tarrant was appointed.”

The City recently confirmed to the Free Press contract negotiations with the FOP are ongoing as the previous collective bargaining agreement between the City and FOP expired last December.

Adrienne Hood, mother of Henry Green, says denying Tarrant is rejecting someone who has literally worked with current President Joe Biden. Tarrant assisted President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Taskforce and served on President Obama’s Law Advisory Group which was chaired by Vice President Biden. As Tarrant described it in his application letter to Mayor Ginther two years ago, “Our task was to provide recommendations for expanding 21st century policing in the context of Black Lives Matter.”

“He has worked multiple levels within policing. Started in Arizona after his own encounter with an officer. Worked his way up. Created community policing programs in Seattle (as former Assistant Chief of Police). And worked on Obama’s 21st century policing team. That’s what I mean by diverse,” said Hood. “Maybe he was going to be too much of a change agent and the Mayor is only looking for that in words not deeds. We are all familiar with the depth of diverse experience Tarrant has, so for him not to even be a finalist is suspect.”

In 2016, Tarrant was elected to lead NOBLE (National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives), where he said he “gained valuable experience responding to communities in crisis following officer-involved shootings.”

It is a tight rope to navigate when crime is spiking and tensions with police are duly elevated in urban communities, but in his letter to Mayor Ginther, Tarrant sounded like he was more than up for the task that is now.

“I have engaged residents and community organizations to reduce violent and property crimes,” he wrote. “Technology was important, however, it was the analysis of variable factors that resulted in efficient deployment of resources. Teams had clear objectives supported by data and resources toward reducing victimization, and the impact on crime was significant. We were successful in reducing crime without over policing or disparate treatment of minority populations.”

Cynthia Brown of De-Escalate Ohio – which is seeking to end qualified immunity in Ohio – suggests the City and the Mayor never intended Tarrant to lead the Division or protect Columbus in the first place but courted him to appease local BLM and the city’s African American community.

“In my personal opinion, Perry Tarrant would never be a finalist for Police Chief, because in 2019, the Mayor didn’t hire him for the job,” said Brown. “Instead, the Mayor continued with more of the same cabal, mob style policing, systemic institutional racism. Read (Lieutenant) Melissa Mcfadden’s book (Walking the Thin Black Line). If I was Perry Tarrant, I would of told the Mayor, ‘I wasn’t interested in the first place.’”

City spokesperson Robin Davis told the Free Press they did interview Tarrant during the current search.

“We had a very strong pool of candidates with exceptional experience as transformational leaders. All that we interviewed – including Mr. Tarrant – would make fine police chiefs. We narrowed the list based on who we believe can best lead this Division at this important moment,” she stated in an email.

Davis offered the Free Press this information on the final four candidates:

·      Elaine Bryantis the current Deputy Chief of Police in Detroit. She has been in law enforcement for 21 years and has served as a liaison between-faith based organizations and the Detroit Police Department.

·      Derrick Diggsis the current Police Chief in Ft. Myers, Florida, and has been in law enforcement for 44 years. He oversaw a 51% reduction in violent crime during his tenure as Police Chief.

·      Avery Mooreis currently the Assistant Chief of Police in Dallas. He has 30 years in law enforcement and oversaw the planning and execution of protest-related events in Dallas.

·      Ivonne Romanis the former Police Chief in Newark, NJ, and worked in law enforcement for 25 years. She negotiated the Newark Police Department Consent Decree with the Dept. of Justice and now works at the Center of Policing Equity.

Wednesday night at 6 pm the City is hosting a virtual townhall for the final four candidates and City has requested any questions to be submitted here

The townhall can be viewed here