February 16, 2021


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Newark, NJ – February 16, 2021 — Mayor Ras J. Baraka today announced Department of Public Safety leadership changes created to continue building on the City’s successful crime reduction strategies.  

Brian O’Hara, who most recently served as Deputy Chief of Police, has been appointed as the Acting Public Safety Director; Reverend Ronald L. Slaughter has been appointed as Deputy Director of Community Relations, a newly created civilian position within the Newark Police Division; and Acting Captain Sharonda Morris who currently oversees the Newark Police Division’s Office of Professional Standards has been appointed to Deputy Police Director of Operations.  

“I want to thank Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose for his distinguished leadership during his 30 plus years of service to Newark and Essex County,” said Mayor Baraka. “I welcome our new leadership team and know that we have promoted and are hiring the best individuals to continue the great work we are doing here in terms of building on the city’s successful crime reduction strategies. Although a lot is expected, I know they will deliver.”  

In his new role, Acting Public Safety Director O’Hara, a 20-year veteran who began as a police officer in 2001, will oversee the Police and Fire Divisions as well as the Office of Emergency Management. Prior to serving as Deputy Chief, he held various ranked positions including Captain of the Consent Decree & Planning Division, Lieutenant, and Sergeant. Acting Public Safety Director O’Hara earned both Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University, studied at Harvard Kennedy School, and completed training at the FBI National Academy.

As Deputy Director, Reverend Slaughter will report to the Public Safety Director and help to facilitate the Community Relations Unit. His primary focus will be improving and fostering community relations between the Police Division and Newark residents. The Deputy Director will also act as a liaison to assist the Public Safety Director with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB); will assist with the continued implementation of the Consent Decree; will assist with the continued improvement of community policing by helping to implement community based policies and protocols including stop and frisk, use of force, and bias-free policing; will assist with implementing initiatives to effectuate better community engagement and transparency; and will establish a community committee consisting of two residents from each Ward to help improve the relationship with the community.

In her new role, Deputy Police Director of Operations Sharonda Morris will assist the Public Safety Director in overseeing the Chief of Police and the operations of the Newark Police Division. Her duties will include being responsible for the administration of policies and procedures; managing and participating in the development and implementation of goals, objectives, and priorities of the Police Division; and overseeing and coordinating a variety of operational and administrative functions including crime prevention, budgeting, and policy development. She will also be responsible for ensuring equity, inclusion, and fairness throughout the Police Division.

The leadership changes within the Department of Public Safety are exemplary of Mayor Baraka’s commitment to the safety and well-being of Newark residents, and to the overall growth of the City.