Philadelphia hires ‘Outlaw’ as next police commissioner

PHILADELPHIA — The next commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department will be coming from Oregon.

Mayor Jim Kenney (D) appointed Chief Danielle Outlaw of the Portland Police Bureau to replace Richard Ross, who resigned in August.

“Over these past four years, no single appointment has been as important and as carefully chosen as the selection of Danielle Outlaw to be our next police commissioner,”

Mayor Kenney said during the Dec. 30 announcement.

He credited Outlaw for being

“extremely successful challenging the status quo and adopting novel approaches to policing. Outlaw implemented crime strategies tailored to the needs and challenges of individual precincts, resulting in decreases in crime rates.

“Under Danielle Outlaw’s leadership, the Portland force made its greatest strides at achieving use-of-force reforms under a federal consent decree instituted prior to her tenure. This included new policies to address excessive force against those suffering from mental health issues, and under her watch the Portland Police Bureau has received national and international recognition for work in community trust building, crowd management, response and constitutional policing.”

Former Chief Danielle Outlaw, Portland Police Bureau

Outlaw started her police career in her native Oakland, Calif. She worked her way up over 20 years to become deputy chief of police.

Then, she served more than two years in Portland.

Outlaw explained during her introduction,

“While I’m new to Philadelphia, I am not new to the challenges of a big city or 21st century policing. I encountered and dealt with the issues of employee health and wellness, equity, contemporary training, crime, fair and just prosecution, community trust, homelessness, substance abuse, police accountability, and innovation and technology, just to name a few, as I worked various assignments and rose through the ranks in Oakland, California. And I directly addressed these issues while leading the police force in Portland, Oregon.”

Then, she described how she’ll work to improve police and community relations in Philadelphia.

“Modern policing is data-driven but the paramount factor is not so easily quantified, and that’s trust: The trust residents have that their police force will keep them safe, and treat them with dignity and respect. I am convinced that trust can be restored, here and all across our nation. I’m convinced that community policing or community police relations can be rebuilt and fortified through dialogue, transparency and accountability,” Outlaw delineated.

District Attorney Larry Krasner (D) wrote in a statement,

“As an outsider to Philadelphia, you are well positioned to act during a time of needed reform on the ideals you have expressed. We are hopeful that your deeds will match your words and you will push for justice, because we all know that justice makes us safer.

“I look forward to working with you, Mayor Kenney, and your Department to make criminal justice reform in Philadelphia a reality.”

State Rep. Jason Dawkins (D), leader of the House Democratic Philadelphia Delegation, welcomed Outlaw’s appointment.

“Her credentials as an experienced officer and chief, along with her impeccable character, make her well suited to lead and reform a department that has been plagued with issues of racial and gender discrimination and sexual harassment,” Dawkins said on behalf of the delegation.

“It is long past time that a woman, notably a woman of color, be given the opportunity to lead the law enforcement actions and efforts of Philadelphia and work toward the reforms that are most needed,”

he added, mentioning gun violence, nuisance establishments and reducing overall crime.

Many observers had expected the new commissioner to come from within the Philadelphia Police Department’s ranks.

City Managing Director Brian Abernathy announced there were 31 candidates for the commissioner position, including 18 within the department.

Philadelphia Police Acting Comm. Christine Coulter, incoming Comm. Danielle Outlaw

One of them was Christine Coulter, who served as acting commissioner over the past four months. She will return to her previous position of deputy commissioner of organizational services.

Mayor Kenney thanked Coulter

“for her “unwavering leadership over the past four months.. (She) brought stability to the department during a really difficult time.”

“She’ll leave the city better than she found it,”

Coulter said about Outlaw on KYW-TV.

Outlaw, 43, will be the first African American woman to hold the Philadelphia commissioner post, as she was in Portland.

Former Police Comm. Richard Ross, from Philadelphia Police Dept.

Mayor Kenney had said he was disappointed when Comm. Ross resigned.

In August, Kenney wrote about Ross in a statement,

“He’s been a terrific asset to the police department and the city as a whole.”

However, “New allegations of sexual harassment as well as gender and racial discrimination among the rank and file have recently been brought to my attention. While those allegations do not accuse Comm. Ross of harassment, I do ultimately believe his resignation is in the best interest of the department.”

Outlaw has already resigned her position out west, and is set to begin as commissioner in Philadelphia on Feb. 10.


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