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Akron Police Chief Search: Community Town Hall Planned with Four Finalists

Police headquarters, Akron, Ohio
Tim Rudell
Akron has narrowed the search for a new police chief to four finalists. The community will have a chance to hear from them during a virtual town hall this week.

Akron is in the final phase of its search for a new police chief, which includes public engagement with the four finalists. Mayor Dan Horrigan will facilitate a community town hall with them on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Former Akron Chief of Police Ken Ball retired in February, and the city launched a national search in March. No internal candidates made the final cut.

The candidates are:

  • Eric David Hawkins, Chief of the Albany, NY Police Department
  • Joseph P. Sullivan, retired Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department
  • Stephen L. Mylett, Chief of the Bellevue, WA Police Department
  • Christopher A. Davis, Deputy Chief of the Portland, OR Police Bureau

Hawkins has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience. Before becoming Chief of Police in Albany, he served as Chief of Police in Southfield, Michigan. In his application, Hawkins stated, "Akron's next police chief must be reform minded, community oriented and be a proponent of equitable and community focused policing," qualities which he says he has.

Sullivan recently retired from the Philadelphia Police Department after 38 years. In his application, he touted his accomplishment of appointing a sergeant and member of the LGBTQ community to serve as the department's first official liaison to the LGBTQ community. In 2019, he also worked closely to craft Directive 4.15, a nationally recognized policy for police interaction with transgender citizens.

Mylett has served as Chief of Police in Bellevue, Washington since 2015. Prior to that, he served as Chief of Police of Southlake Police Department in Texas from 2011 to 2015. In his application, Mylett stated, "I have a long track record of creating shared visions, engaging diverse communities, building coalitions, and leading police departments in very diverse, urban communities through transparency and open and honest dialogue."

Davis has been in a leadership role in the Portland, OR Police Bureau since 2004. In his application, he stated he has worked to develop a reputation of being trustworthy, progressive and forward thinking and that he strives to be highly visible within the organization.

"I am impressed with the pool of qualified candidates who applied to be our next Chief of Police," Horrigan stated in a press release. "I am looking for an individual who has the experience, temperament and integrity to drive this department forward."

Along with the names of the four finalists, Horrigan also released the results of a survey conducted by Ralph Anderson and Associates asking the community about the most pressing issues Akron is facing in regard to policing.

The survey (see below) found that the top three department priorities should be reducing police use of force, reducing racial disparities and community oriented policing. Of those who responded, 42.52% said they have had a good overall experience with the Akron Police, while 25.16% said their experience was excellent. However, 56.22% of respondents said Akron is less safe than it was a year ago.

The public will be able to meet the four candidates during a community town hall that will be livestreamed on the City of Akron's YouTube channel. Residents interested in submitting questions should email them to APDChiefSearch@akronohio.gov or call the Mayor's Action Center at 311 or 330-375-2311 by Wednesday at noon.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.