Mayor Steven Reed has named veteran law enforcement officer Ramona Harris as the interim police chief of the Montgomery Police Department while the search continues for someone to fill the role permanently.
Harris has been with MPD for more than 18 years and has worked her way up the ranks to police major.
“I am humbled and honored to serve in this capacity, leading this department, with other leaders, grow and help the community in Montgomery,” Harris said in a news conference Friday.
The Montgomery Police Department has never had a Black female police chief, making Harris the highest-ranking African American female officer in department history with her interim status.
The city’s police department has seen one previous female officer attain the level of interim chief. That happened when then Deputy Chief Mable Pierce assumed the role for a time in 2004.
Harris acknowledged her status but said there have been females in leadership roles in the department for some time and noted that the department is looking for excellence in its officers regardless of their gender.
“What we look for is excellence and performance, regardless if you are male or female,” Harris said.
Harris could seek the position, which Reed said it could take three to six months to fill, but noted that even if not selected as the chief, she will continue working in a leadership role within the department to make the community safer.
“We will do everything that it takes to make this city happy, make this city safe and we are a safe city. And we will continue to give you all a safe city,” Harris added. “I put emphasis on the word safe city because I know violent crime is up across the county right now, but here in Montgomery where we all call home, we will make this city safe for you.”
Reed announced Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley’s resignation on June 8.
When asked about the chief’s resignation, Reed told WSFA 12 News it was time to make the move because the city didn’t see improvement in crime data and there wasn’t a clear plan on reversing the current trends.
Reed also commented on the rumors surrounding the internal environment of the department saying there needed to be a strong internal leader to manage it.
Complaints about leadership and allegations of bullying and cover-ups within the department recently led to current and former officers bringing their concerns to the City Council in April.
Finley has been police chief since January 2015, having been brought in under then-Mayor Todd Strange following nearly 30 years with the Atlanta Police Department where he served as deputy chief and field operations division commander.
Following Finley’s resignation, MPD Chief of Staff Zedrick Dean was tapped to serve as acting chief until the city’s announcement of an interim chief.
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