Akron Mayor, Dan Horrigan, has announced that the City's Police Chief, Steve Mylett, is retiring, and leaving the department as of January 1, 2024.
In a press release, Horrigan says Mylett, who was chosen to lead the Akron Police Department in 2021, plans to leave policing for a job in the private sector.
“I want to thank Chief Mylett for his outstanding, dedicated service to our community through a very trying time,” said Mayor Horrigan. “I know Steve to be a man of honor with the utmost care for the communities he has served. Akron was lucky to have him at the helm, and I am grateful to have had him by my side through the last two years. I wish him and his family the best in their future endeavors.”
“It is with great difficulty that I make this decision to step away, but I do think the time is right based on many different factors,” said Chief Mylett. “I am proud to end my 35 years in policing here in Akron. I want to thank Mayor Horrigan for the privileged opportunity to lead the men and women of the Akron Police Department. I also want to thank the APD employees for welcoming me into the Department and for the exceptional work they do every day – I am proud to be called a member of this agency. Additionally, I want to thank the Akron community for embracing my family and I as we settled in this beautiful city.
“This past year has been very difficult for many, many people, and the road ahead to regain what was lost will be no easy feat. However, I hold tremendous optimism for the future of this city, and I know everyone in this city wants a safe and secure Akron in order to raise our families and to live in peace. Together, we can achieve our vision.”
Mylett's departure comes after a particularly tumultous period of time for the Akron Police Department, as the city erupted in repeated protests and some violence after police shot and killed Jayland Walker, on June 27, 2022.
Police said at the time, and a State Bureau of Criminal investigations inquiry confirmed, that Walker fled a traffic stop, pulled into a parking lot, ran from police while wearing a ski mask, then turned and made what police interpreted as a "threatening" gesture.
Eight police officers then opened fire, Walker died in a hail of bullets, and it was only after he was shot, that police discovered his gun was still inside his car, and he was unarmed when they shot him.
The City is now facing a multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit filed by Walker's family, who contend that police violated Jayland's civil rights, despite the fact that the special grand jury convened to look into the matter, decided not to return any criminal indictments against the officers involved in the shooting.
Mylett faced extensive criticism from some members of the community for his actions after the shooting, including never publicly revealing the names of the officers involved, because they and their families have been the targets of numerous death threats. In the weeks just after the shooting, Mylett also told officers to remove their name tags, and to only display their badges and identification numbers to citizens, also, he said, as a means to protect officers from harm.
How police responded to public protests, was also a source of controversy, when police used tear gas to disperse a big crowd on Copley Road in West Akron, on April 23, 2023 .
Mylett's response at the time, was that his officers were justified in their response because some protesters were throwing rocks and bottles at them. But, the city did then later agree to limit the use of such crowd dispersal agents, and to change their tactics when dealing with non-violent protesters, in response to a temporary restraining order filed by the Akron Bail Fund.
Mayor Horrigan says he plans to work with presumptive Mayor Shammus Malik's transition team regarding a search for the next police chief. The next Mayor will have the opportunity to lead a search and select the next head of the Akron Police Department.
Meanwhile, Malik, who is running unopposed in November; had this response:
"I want to thank Chief Mylett for his service to our community over these last two years, and I wish him well in his next steps. In the coming weeks, our transition team will work in partnership with Mayor Horrigan’s administration to begin a search process for the next chief of the Akron Police Department, which will be open to internal and external candidates. "
"Safety will be my administration’s top priority. A central goal of my administration will be making sure the Akron Police Department is an effective, forward-focused organization, able to respond to calls for service while also prioritizing proactive, community-based policing. That means building trust through transparency and accountability, and also focusing on retention and attraction of officers to ensure our safety forces have the training, support, and work environment they need to be successful. I look forward to working in partnership with every member of the Akron Police Department, as well as our entire community, to create a safer Akron."