City officials recently named Detroit Police Department Deputy Chief Elvin Barren as Southfield’s new police chief. Barren is scheduled to start his new position July 29.

City officials recently named Detroit Police Department Deputy Chief Elvin Barren as Southfield’s new police chief. Barren is scheduled to start his new position July 29.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Elvin Barren named Southfield’s top cop

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published July 16, 2019


SOUTHFIELD — After a yearlong search, Southfield has named Elvin Barren as its new police chief.

City Administrator Fred Zorn appointed Barren as the new chief at a July 8 City Council meeting. Barren is scheduled to take the reins on July 29.

According to a news release from Community Relations Director Michael Manion, Barren currently serves as deputy chief of police at the Detroit Police Department. There, he commands the largest bureau in the DPD, including eight major units.

Barren also oversees a yearly budget of $137 million and over 1,100 police officers. He has been with the DPD for 21 years, 12 of those years with command experience, and over six years at the rank of commander or above.

Zorn said in a prepared statement that Barren will serve the community well.

“With over 20 years of solid law enforcement experience in protecting and serving the public, he will make a great addition to our team and will carry on the high standards of the city of Southfield and the Southfield Police Department,” Zorn said in a prepared statement.

The appointment of a new chief follows former Chief Eric Hawkins’ departure from the department last summer to lead the Albany Police Department.

In June, the public was invited to attend a panel interview for the top four candidates during a special City Council meeting.

Each candidate was asked the same set of questions and was interviewed in front of the audience at a podium for about 30 minutes. The candidates waited in the council conference room adjacent to the chambers until their name was called.

The candidates were asked about their background and how they would handle certain high-stakes situations, such as a mass shooting, threats of violence and racial tension.

Barren was up against acting Southfield Police Chief Brian Basset, Wayne County Sheriff Cmdr. Donafay Collins and Detroit Police Department Cmdr. Charles Mahone for the position.

During the panel interview, Barren said he has always admired Southfield.

“The city of Southfield has always been a clean city — a city where it’s very inclusive — and I want to be part of that inclusiveness,” he said during the interview. “As I read how the city is doing more innovation — upgrading their neighborhoods, upgrading their businesses, upgrading their facilities — I want to be part of that experience with the city of Southfield.”

During his first 90 days on the job, Barren said he hopes to open lines of communication with everyone who lives, works, worships and plays in the city.

“In the first 30 days, I anticipate being very busy and being very active in the community, and what I mean by active is forming lines of communication with the residents, with the businesses and with the houses of worship,” he said. “Being very visible — seeing what the issues are that plague the community. Working with the Police Department, seeing what the morale looks like within the organization and attending to their needs.”

Mayor Ken Siver said he got the chance to sit down with Barren recently, and said he is looking forward to working with him.

“He’s got a level of maturity that I think is needed. I think his demeanor shows strength of character. You don’t want someone to come in (and) start barking orders,” Siver said. “From time to time, I think it’s always good to have a new person come in with a fresh set of eyes to look at an organization. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with the Southfield Police Department, but you always want to be on a course of positive improvement and advancement, and I think Mr. Barren has the experience to do that.”

Manion said in the release that Barren holds an associate of science degree in law enforcement administration from Wayne County Community College, a Bachelor of Science in public administration from Central Michigan University, and is currently completing a Master of Science in criminal justice from Bowling Green State University.

Barren is also a graduate of the Senior Management Institute for Police and has completed training at the Police Executives’ and New Chiefs’ School, sponsored by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, according to the release.

In addition, Barren completed the Leadership in Counterterrorism Program, sponsored by the FBI, and has completed several other training and leadership development programs.

He previously served as the deputy chief of Neighborhood Policing Bureau-East for the Detroit Police Department. In this position, he commanded Detroit’s largest bureau, overseeing day-to-day operations of the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th precincts, as well as the Downtown Services Division, Gaming Operations and the Metropolitan Division, which includes the tactical response unit, SWAT, K-9, harbor master, bomb squad, traffic enforcement, mounted division and aviation.

Barren is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy, serving eight years as an operations specialist.

Zorn did not return a request for further comment by press time.