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Mayor Malik Announces Finalist In Akron’s Police Chief Search

Akron, Ohio, April 17, 2024  — Today, Akron Mayor Shammas Malik is announcing that a finalist has been named in the city’s Police Chief Search. Deputy Chief Brian Harding, who is currently serving as Acting Chief, is the city’s final candidate. The city will host two town halls to give the community an opportunity to meet the finalist, ask questions, and learn more about the process. The first town hall will take place this Saturday, April 20, from 10-11:30am at Buchtel CLC (1040 Copley Rd.). The second town hall will take place next Tuesday, April 23, from 6-7:30pm at East CLC (80 Brittain Rd.). The venue for the second town hall has been moved to better accommodate residents from both sides of the city.

“While many residents are familiar with Deputy Chief Harding from his years of service to our city, I am looking forward to the town halls which will provide our community with the opportunity to engage with him as the finalist for the Police Chief role,” said Mayor Malik. “As a candidate for this important role and in his current role as Acting Chief, he has welcomed opportunities to meet with the community through this process. I believe this reflects his willingness to support more community-oriented policing here in Akron and demonstrates his commitment to Akron's residents. I’m excited for our town halls where our residents will have an opportunity to hear directly from the finalist and ask questions.”

Final Candidate Biography

Deputy Chief Harding attended the University of Akron where he earned his bachelor’s degree in technical education with an associate degree in criminal justice. He has 28 years of law enforcement experience and has been with the Akron Police Department since 1995. He has been promoted several times throughout his tenure and was most recently promoted to Deputy Chief in November of 2021. Harding is a recent graduate of Leadership Akron Class 39, has attended the Police Executive Leadership College, and is a current board member of Victims Assistance. He has been married to his wife Michelle for 28 years and they have two children.

Search Process Timeline

Sept. 2023 - Then Mayor Dan Horrigan and then Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett jointly announced Chief Mylett’s planned departure at the end of 2023 and his retirement from policing after 35 years of public service and two with the City of Akron.

Dec. 15, 2023 - Then Mayor-Elect Malik announced beginning Jan. 1, 2024, current Akron Deputy Chief Brian Harding would take over as Acting Chief while a nationwide search was conducted for Chief Mylett’s replacement. Simultaneously, Mayor-Elect Malik launched a survey for the Akron community to gather feedback on what they'd like to see in their next Chief.

Jan. 11, 2024 - Mayor Malik hosted a police chief search town hall at Garfield CLC to encourage Akron residents to provide feedback and offer an opportunity to fill out the survey. Mayor Malik also launched an internal survey for Akron Police Department employees to gather their feedback on priorities for the next Chief.

Jan. 25, 2024 - Applications opened for the Police Chief position with a deadline of March 4, 2024.

March 4, 2024 - Mayor Malik announced an update to the police chief search. After months of research, the city's law department and outside counsel determined that state and local law prevented the Mayor from seeking an external candidate for Police Chief. The Mayor announced the city would seek a charter amendment in November to allow an external search in the future but would proceed with an internal only search. The city extended the deadline for applications and survey responses to March 18, 2024. Both of the final candidates submitted their applications by the original March 4 deadline.

Week of March 25, 2024 – Ralph Anderson and Associates conducted initial screening interviews with all internal candidates.

April 1, 2024 – Ralph Anderson and Associates initiated background checks and education verification checks.

April 2, 2024 – Ralph Anderson and Associates reviewed and recommended candidates to the Mayor for review and consideration.

April 5, 2024 - Mayor Malik announced two more police chief search town halls, naming the two candidates for Police Chief: Deputy Chief Brian Harding, currently serving as Acting Chief; and Deputy Chief Jesse Leeser. He also released the full results of both the community survey and the internal Akron Police survey.

April 12, 2024 – Mayor Malik, Chief of Staff Brittany Grimes Zaehringer, Chief of Strategy Nanette Pitt, Director of Human Resources Montrella Jackson, and advisory group members conducted first-round finalist interviews.

April 15, 2024 – Mayor Malik and advisory team decided on a final candidate: Deputy Chief Brian Harding.

April 20, 2024 – Mayor Malik will host a meet and greet town hall to introduce the finalist to the Akron community at Buchtel CLC from 10-11:30am.

April 23, 2024 – Mayor Malik will host second meet and greet town hall for the community to meet the finalist at East CLC from 6-7:30pm.


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