Sep 27, 2021 - Politics
Meet Columbus' new (police) boss
A portrait of Robert Clark, the new Columbus director of public safety, in front of an American flag.
Robert Clark, the new Columbus director of public safety. Photo courtesy the city of Columbus

Columbus' new director of public safety begins work today, bringing decades of law enforcement experience to the agency overseeing the police department.

Why it matters: Robert Clark will be heavily involved in ongoing efforts to reform the police department amid contentious relations with the public and a record number of homicides.

State of play: Clark's arrival, combined with the hire of new chief Elaine Bryant, reflects the city's effort to bring a fresh direction to local law enforcement.

  • Clark applied for the chief position before being selected as public safety director.

The intrigue: Clark's law enforcement career has taken him around the globe and even a stint on network TV.

  • A native Ohioan, he first served as a police officer in Youngstown before leading an FBI field office in Los Angeles for decades. Clark later served on protection detail for former Attorney General John Ashcroft. His second day with that detail was 9/11.
  • He briefly starred in the CBS reality show "Hunted," which tracked contestants posing as fugitives who hid from professional search teams.
  • Clark also spent recent years supervising the national police service in Trinidad and Tobago.

What he's saying: The 1980 murder of Clark's father spurred him to a career in solving homicides and other cold cases.

  • "There was no justice that came to that murder," he said at his introductory news conference. "I got to see the individual who killed my father walk around the streets as I was a police officer. And never having the healing and the justice that was necessary."
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