Mayor Frey announces Police Chief finalists

September 7, 2022

Today, Mayor Jacob Frey announced the three final candidates for the appointed role of Chief of Police. Mayor Frey and Commissioner Alexander will interview the candidates prior to the mayor’s final decision – which will occur in the coming weeks. The mayor’s nomination will then go to the City Council for approval.

“We are thrilled to have recruited three national caliber candidates, and I look forward to meeting with each one to ultimately choose our next Police Chief,” said Mayor Frey. “This is among the most consequential hires I will make as mayor. Our residents deserve a candidate who will both lead MPD with the courage of their convictions and build trust in our city. I’m grateful to the search committee for their time and dedication in reviewing and recommending these finalists and to Interim Chief Huffman for her excellent leadership over the past 10 months. She has enacted impactful policy reforms, collaborated effectively with department heads across City Hall, and accelerated the pace of change during this critical time.”

The three final candidates who will be interviewed are Elvin Barren, Dr. RaShall Brackney, and Brian O’Hara.

Elvin Barren is currently the Chief of Police for the City of Southfield (MI). Prior to that, Chief Barren served 21 years with the Detroit Police Department and retired from the Detroit Police Department as a Deputy Chief. His responsibilities included five precincts, the Downtown Services Division, and eight specialized units (SWAT, Bomb Squad, K-9, Air Support, Harbor Master, Traffic Enforcement, Tactical Response Unit, and City-Wide Parks Detail). As the Chief of Police for the City of Southfield, Chief Barren has instituted a variety of new initiatives and policy revisions. The current Use of Force policy is now in compliance with National Best Practices in Policing. Chief Barren is also a veteran of the United States Navy, serving eight years as an Operations Specialist.

Dr. RaShall Brackney currently serves as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Practice at George Mason University. Previously, Dr. Brackney served as the Chief of Police for Charlottesville (VA) and George Washington University. Dr. Brackney retired as a Commander from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police after serving for more than 30 years. During her tenure as a law enforcement professional in Pittsburgh, she was responsible for overseeing critical operations such as Special Operations, SWAT, Mounted Patrol, Hostage Negotiations, Crime Analysis, the Training Academy, Patrol Operations and Major Crimes. Dr. Brackney is a recognized expert in restorative and procedural justice practices in policing, community violence exposure, and reducing community trauma through relational policing.  

Brian O’Hara currently serves as the Deputy Mayor of the City of Newark (NJ). In 2001, Deputy Mayor O’Hara joined the Newark Police Department as a police officer, rising through the ranks to become a captain in 2016. In 2021, he was appointed as the Public Safety Director for Newark overseeing more than 1,960 employees, comprising 996 sworn police officers, 611 firefighters, and 346 civilian employees, and a budget that exceeded $200 million. In that role, Deputy Mayor O’Hara enhanced the collaborative working relationships among federal, state, and local partners, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Newark Police Department, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness, and numerous other state and local agencies and police departments.

Search process background and community engagement

On March 6, the mayor launched a national search for a new Chief of Police, bringing on Public Sector Search & Consulting Inc. (PSSC) to oversee and lead the process. PSSC is a national executive search firm focused exclusively on police executive searches. Mayor Frey also formed a local search committee made up of diverse community members to help with front-end processes, interview candidates vetted by PSSC, and recommend candidates to the mayor for final consideration. Civil Rights Director Alberder Gillespie along with the mayor’s Chief of Staff Mychal Vlatkovich and Principal Policy Aide Jared Jeffries supported the committee.

The search process has included significant engagement with internal and external stakeholders. PSSC met with internal stakeholders including the mayor and City Council Members, conducted community stakeholder meetings, and held a separate discussion with Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) command staff and labor representation.

To engage a broad cross-section of internal and external stakeholders beyond meeting with specific groups, PSSC additionally developed and opened two online surveys. One external survey collected constituent feedback and public comment, and a second online survey collected internal MPD staff feedback and comments.

City Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw, chair of the City Council’s Public Health & Safety Committee, hosted five community listening session between April 18 and May 3. The sessions were open to the public, and the feedback, guidance, and perspective gained during the sessions was combined with the input PSSC gathered during their stakeholder meetings and from the surveys. All information was reviewed, summarized, and used to support the creation and development of the Position Profile – and to inform the selection process.