Robert W. Clark was appointed Director of the Columbus Department of Public Safety on September 3, 2021. A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Director Clark is excited to return to his home state and take on this role at such a critical time. Clark believes his track record as a leader in innovative and service-oriented policing will help him advance change, build community trust, and keep Columbus residents safe.
Clark brings 35 years of local, federal and international law enforcement experience. In 1989, he began his career at the Youngstown Police Department. He was assigned to the Special Investigation Unit as a Vice and Narcotics Officer and the Community Police Unit downtown. Clark trained officers in identifying and investigating gang activity, often collaborating with the ATF and FBI. His experience led him to the U.S. Department of Justice FBI field office in Los Angeles, CA, in 1995. Clark served as Assistant Special Agent in Charge, managing an annual budget of more than $25 million and leading more than 350 agents and task force officers from 10 agencies, focusing on gangs, violent crime, drug cartels and crimes against children. Clark’s achievements included building a first-of-its-kind virtual homicide library, assembling Operation SOS (Save our Streets) to target gang-related homicides, cold cases and violent crimes, and collaborating with community leaders to build youth outreach and intervention programs in vulnerable neighborhoods. Operation SOS solved 650 cold case murders and violent crimes over six years. Most recently, Clark was the Senior Superintendent for the Trinidad & Tobago Police Service. He oversaw intelligence efforts and helped build infrastructure to upgrade policies and strategies for combating violent crime and improving community relations.
Clark is an avid believer in the power of community service and giving back. He partnered with the LAPD to produce the 2011 Community Impact Program, a comprehensive crime reduction strategy that combined community service with crime prevention efforts. The program led to his founding of New Point Mentoring, Inc. New Point’s team of mentors have served more than 4,000 youth in providing life-building and sustaining skills.
Clark has a deep empathy for those impacted by crime. At 13 years old, he lost his father to gun violence. That tragedy and his lived experience have driven his desire to serve others.
“I’m from the inner city, from public housing, from foster care. And having those experiences really allows me to directly relate to our community. I have a servant’s heart and because of where I’m from and where I have been in my career, I have the ability and the passion to listen to the community, and understand their needs and concern,” he said.
Clark has volunteered with numerous organizations dedicated to combating human trafficking and addiction and also mentoring at-risk youth. Clark has been recognized for his public service through awards and recognition including the Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches Community Service Award, LAPD Inaugural Homer Broome Community Service Award, Justice for Murdered Children Community Leadership Award, FBI Assistant Directors Award, El Salvador National Civil Police Award and Proclamation from the City of Youngstown Award. Additionally, Clark was featured on television shows including the A&E Investigative Series “Untold Stories” and CBS Reality Show “Hunted.”
Clark received his Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from Youngstown State University. Currently he is a doctoral candidate in Organizational Leadership & Social Justice at Adler University.