Incoming Dayton Police Chief prepares to lead department through latest period of change

DAYTON — The Dayton Police Department is going through a period of change. The most visible part of that change is in its leadership.

Kamran Afzal will take over as the city’s police chief on December 20.

Afzal is taking over for former chief Richard Biehl, who retired in July. Lt. Matt Carper filled the role temporarily, but did not get the job and that is something Afzal told News Center 7′s Molly Koweek that he was going to be very open about with the department.

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“You know, appreciate what Matt has done for the department for 29 years, what he did as interim chief,” he said.

Afzal will be taking over as the city is trying to implement 142 community recommendations for police reform. Some of the recommendations include starting a pilot program to use trained intervention specialists instead of officers to respond to certain calls, as well as getting all officers outfitted with body cameras.

The new body cameras captured the controversial arrest of Clifford Owensby in September. The traffic stop gained national attention as the video showed officers pull Owensby out his car by his hair. Owensby had told officers he was a paraplegic.

When asked how he was going to work to regain the community’s trust after that arrests, Afzal said he plans to open the department up to different conversations.

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“Addressing the narrative,” Afzal said. “I mean, sometimes it doesn’t look the most pleasant when you’re making an arrest. I don’t know what I don’t know at this point, so I know it won’t be resolved until I get there.”

Afzal said once he gets started, he plans to evaluate the incident and the outcome of the investigation as a starting point.

But in Dayton, speakers have voiced their frustrations over the pace of the police reforms at multiple city commission meetings. Afzal said changes like the city is implementing take time.

“Any time you’re making changes to the organization where you’re fundamentally going to change something, if you are just doing it for the next election cycle and all that, it’s going to fail,” Afzal said. “If you want this to be successful for the next 20 year, it might take a little bit longer initially, but you’d be better off for it.”

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Afzal told News Center 7 that he plans to be in Dayton for a long time to come and oversee these new recommendations implemented.

“I’m getting my aspiration, aspirational sized department, so I think it will be there. We’ll be there for as long as Dayton wants us,” he said.

You can watch the full interview with Afzal here: