New Flint mayor appoints sheriff candidate as police chief

Published: Nov. 11, 2019 at 6:09 PM EST
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(11/11/2019) - At his swearing in ceremony Monday to become Flint's newest Mayor, Sheldon Neeley began choosing his staff.

He announced the appointment of Phil Hart as the interim City of Flint Police Chief.

His pick may be a familiar face for some.

Hart announced earlier this year he'll be running in the Genesee County Sheriff's Race.

But for now, Hart is ready to take on the challenge of leading the Flint Police Department.

"I think there needs to be a realignment of services in the City," he explained. "I myself am a resident of the City of Flint; and myself, many of my friends, we've discussed the fact that you don't see patrol cars out, do you feel safe, what happens if your house is broken into, you know. And so, I want to address the basic safety principles that everybody has."

Hart said he was a little surprised Neeley asked him to take the job; but, the two have known each other for some time.

Hart served as MSP's Post Commander in Flint when Neeley was a City Councilmember.

His police career started at the Clio police station before joining MSP. Hart said he's worked on a number of task forces across the state, including one with the FBI. With the federal agency, he was appointed to a public corruption task force here in Flint.

Hart has also been the jail administrator for Genesee County. And more recently, he was thee Undersheriff for Saginaw County.

When asked about the challenge of having so few officers in the Flint Police Department, Hart said he already has a plan.

"It's not the number of officers, it's the type of work, the patrol that we do, the type of services that we offer," he explained. "Yes, I think we can do it with the numbers that we have. You can always use more. I mean I won't lie to you, I've never worked with an officer or commander who doesn't say we need more. But, we can do it with what what we have, we just have to realign our priorities."

Because it's an interim position, Flint City Council does not get a vote. Hart expects to start Tuesday.

Again, by taking this job, Hart is not giving up his fight for Genesee County Sheriff. He is still hoping to be on next November's ballot.

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