Police Chief Elvin Barren speaks to the crowd July 29 after being sworn in as the city’s seventh chief inside the Council Chambers of City Hall.

Police Chief Elvin Barren speaks to the crowd July 29 after being sworn in as the city’s seventh chief inside the Council Chambers of City Hall.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Elvin Barren sworn in as Southfield’s police chief

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published August 7, 2019

 Fire Chief Johnny Menifee shakes hands with Barren after the ceremony.

Fire Chief Johnny Menifee shakes hands with Barren after the ceremony.

Photo by Deb Jacques


SOUTHFIELD — Chief Elvin Barren was all smiles as he was sworn in as Southfield’s seventh police chief.

People showed up in droves to witness the ceremony July 29 at Southfield City Hall.

The Southfield Police Department honor guard presented the colors and Chaplain Rosemerry Allen sang the national anthem.

Several local leaders and officials attended the ceremony, including Detroit Police Chief James Craig and Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence.

Before Barren was sworn in by City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins, Council President Lloyd Crews offered remarks.

“Going through the process of selecting a police chief is a very important thing,” Crews said. “As an elected official talking to the residents, one of the main things that we always talk about is safety and security. People want to feel like they’re in a place that is going to be safe and secure. We need strong leadership for that to happen.”

Crews said the process the city used to select the chief was transparent, rigorous and rewarding.

After taking the oath, Barren thanked God, his parents and his family for helping him get to this point.

“To our elected officials and our community: I do not take this position lightly. I’m committed to the city of Southfield and committed to furthering this department. This is already a great department, but I can enhance this department with lessons learned in the city of Detroit,” he said.

Barren also thanked Craig for being his mentor and for his support.

“I thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me. Cops count. Leadership matters,” Barren said. “Every day is an interview, and most importantly: courageous leadership. Leadership is not easy. If it’s easy, you may be doing something wrong.”

City Administrator Fred Zorn appointed Barren the new chief at a July 8 City Council meeting.

“I’m real excited and very pleased to see such a strong showing from the Southfield community. We have a lot of business leaders, elected officials — I see folks from our education community — and obviously, Chief Barren’s friends from the city of Detroit and other neighboring departments in Oakland County.”

Craig said he was sad to see Barren go, but that he is proud of him and wishes him success in his new role.

“I’m very excited for Elvin. While he’s just across Eight Mile, we will continue to be friends. I will continue to be his mentor. I said —  jokingly — earlier that I think we’re just going to break down the barrier between Wayne and Oakland County and the city of Detroit is going to absorb Southfield,” Craig said with a laugh.

Zorn thanked Deputy Chiefs Brian Bassett and Nick Loussia for serving in the roles of acting chiefs while the city sought to fill the position.

“(Civil service) is noble. It is important. Everything we have in our society doesn’t work without people being of service to each other,” Zorn said. “We’re all connected. We need to take the time to just learn and better understand each other.”

Lawrence, Southfield’s former mayor, took to the podium to congratulate Barren.

“I just want to say to everyone in this great city: this is a partnership. He has the title of chief, but he is the chief of the police of the city of Southfield,” Lawrence said. “Every last one of us is now his partner.”

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

Barren also oversaw a yearly budget of $137 million and over 1,100 police officers. He had 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.

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

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

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’s Office Cmdr. Donafay Collins and Detroit Police Department Cmdr. Charles Mahone for the position.

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

Barren is 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.

He has completed the Leadership in Counterterrorism Program sponsored by the FBI.

He previously served as the Deputy Chief of Neighborhood Policing Bureau-East for the Detroit Police Department. In that position he commanded Detroit’s largest bureau, overseeing day-to-day operations of five precincts, as well as the Downtown Services Division, Gaming Operations and the Metropolitan Division, which includes the Tactical Response Unit, the Special Weapons and Tactical Response Team, the K-9 unit, the bomb squad, traffic enforcement, the mounted division and aviation.

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