Interim Director Brian O’Hara

Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara was tapped by the Honorable Mayor Ras J. Baraka as the City of Newark’s Public Safety Director in April 2021, leading the Division of Police, Division of Fire and Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. With oversight of more than 1,960 employees, comprising 1,100 sworn police officers, 650 firefighters and over 350 civilian employees, Director O’Hara also manages a budget exceeding $200 million.

Previously, O’Hara served as Commander of the Accountability, Engagement, and Oversight Bureau of the Newark Police Division. This Bureau comprises the Office of Professional Standards (Internal Affairs), Consent Decree and Planning Division, Training Division, Firearms Range, Community & Clergy Affairs Unit, Technology Unit, Compliance Unit, All Force Investigation & Tracking Team (AFIT), Risk Management Unit, Advocate Unit, and the Candidate Investigations Unit.

Since 2017, Public Safety Director O’Hara has been deeply committed to the implementation of Newark’s consent decree. The consent decree is a court order which mandates the Newark Police Division to reform various aspects of its community engagement, civilian oversight, complaint intake, discipline, use of force, property and evidence management, and stop, search, and arrest practices. In this role, he worked closely with former Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose and former Police Chief Darnell Henry, and has implemented the “CommUNITY & Cops” town hall meetings throughout the City to seek community input and to respond to community concerns around consent decree reforms through facilitated discussions.

Director O’Hara has been a Newark police officer since 2001. He began as a patrol officer in the West District, Vailsburg Task Force, and Safe City Task Force. As a sergeant, O’Hara was a field supervisor in the North District, Safe City Task Force, and Traffic Division; and later served in the Office of Policy and Planning. As a lieutenant, O’Hara was the Executive Officer of the 2nd Precinct, and a Special Assistant to former Police Director Samuel DeMaio. O’Hara served as Commanding Officer of the Metro Division and of the Consent Decree & Planning Division.

Director O’Hara earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers-Newark, where he received the Richard J. Hughes Award. He completed the program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is a graduate of the 240th Session of the FBI National Academy, and of the 54th Session of the Senior Management Institute for Police at Boston University. He is a certified public manager and police academy instructor.

Outside of the Newark Police Division, Director O’Hara is an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Kean University and is a published author. He is married to Sergeant Wafiyyah O’Hara and he is the proud father of two sons.