Baraka announces new acting public safety director and deputy directors

NEWARK, NJ — Mayor Ras Baraka announced Department of Public Safety leadership changes created to continue building on the city’s successful crime reduction strategies in a Feb. 16 press release. 

Brian O’Hara, who most recently served as deputy chief of police, has been appointed as the acting public safety director; the Rev. Ronald L. Slaughter has been appointed as deputy director of community relations, a newly created civilian position within the Newark Police Division; and acting Capt. Sharonda Morris, who currently oversees the Newark Police Division’s Office of Professional Standards, has been appointed 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,” Baraka said. “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, 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 and Planning Division, lieutenant and sergeant. 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, 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; will assist with the continued implementation of the Consent Decree, which was implemented in May 2016 and is a court-ordered settlement with the Justice Department requiring reform of the Newark police force; 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 effect 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, 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. 

Baraka also announced two additional police division promotions: Lts. Miguel Aviles and Emmanuel Miranda were promoted to the rank of acting captain, both to work in O’Hara’s office. 

“We made major appointments and promotions in our Department of Public Safety today,” Baraka said. “The promotion of these two outstanding officers provides acting Director O’Hara with two great team members to advance our agenda to create a safer Newark and a more transparent police force. I congratulate both lieutenants on their promotions.” 

Aviles will be transitioning to become the commander of the Consent Decree and Planning Division. Aviles has served as a Newark police officer for 25 years and has worked on the Consent Decree implementation unit for the last five years. 

Miranda has been a Newark police officer for 20 years, and will serve on O’Hara’s transition team. After the transition, Miranda will take command position within the department.