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Portland Chief Danielle Outlaw Hired To Reform Philly PD As New Commissioner

Portland Police Bureau Chief Danielle Outlaw has been selected as Philadelphia’s new police commissioner.

Philadelphia, PA – Portland Police Bureau Chief Danielle Outlaw has been selected as Philadelphia’s new police commissioner.

Chief Outlaw, who has led the Portland Police Bureau’s 1,000-member force for just over two years, was among 31 candidates vying for the Portland police commissioner position, The Oregonian reported.

Eighteen of those candidates are members of the Philadelphia Police Department, which is comprised of 6,500 sworn members and 800 civilian members.

She will replace former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who resigned in August, the Philly Voice reported.

“While I am new to Philadelphia, I am not new to the challenges of big-city, 21st century policing,” Chief Outlaw, 43, said on Monday, according to The Oregonian.

“Modern policing is data-driven, but the paramount factor is not so easily quantified: trust — the trust residents have that their police force will keep them safe and treat them with respect,” she said. “I am convinced that trust can be restored, here and across the nation. I am convinced community-police relations can be rebuilt and fortified through dialogue, transparency, and accountability.”

Chief Outlaw, who made an annual salary of nearly $241,000 as Portland’s first female African American police chief, will start out at $285,000 per year in Philadelphia, The Oregonian reported.

She will also be the first African American female to lead the Philadelphia Police Department.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he selected Chief Outlaw as the city’s next commissioner because she is a reformer, The Oregonian reported.

“Make no mistake: while I have tremendous respect for our officers, the Philadelphia Police Department needs reform,” Kenney declared in a statement. “I am appointing Danielle Outlaw because I am convinced she has the conviction, courage, and compassion needed to bring long-overdue reform to the Department.”

Kenney said that the city is in the midst of “trying times” due to “decades of injustice.”

“With our support, she will tackle a host of difficult issues, from racism and gender discrimination, to horrid instances of sexual assault on fellow officers,” the mayor proclaimed. “These are issues that too often negatively impact women — especially women of color — within the Department. Commissioner Outlaw will implement reforms with urgency, so that racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination are not tolerated.”

While solving those issues, the commissioner-to-be will also “work relentlessly to combat crime, particularly homicides and other violent crime,” Kenney added, according to The Oregonian.

“It was time for an outside look,” the mayor said. “I can tell you that after meeting and speaking with her at length, she possesses the strength and integrity vital to the task ahead.”

Chief Outlaw thanked Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for selecting her to head the Portland Police Bureau, and said it was an honor to have served the city.

“For police chiefs, I don’t think there is ever an ideal time to transition on to our next role in life. However, I am making this transition on good terms,” she said in a statement on Monday. “I leave knowing the Bureau will remain committed to community safety while building trust.”

Wheeler released a statement praising Chief Outlaw for the “positive difference” she made in Portland.

“She came to Portland exceedingly qualified for the position of police chief, and leaves more prepared than ever for her new position in Philadelphia,” Wheeler noted.

Portland Police Association (PPA) President Officer Daryl Turner said that Chief Outlaw “supported the women and men” of the department during her tenure.

“She proved she could make hard decisions by making the tactical changes in the Bureau that enforced the rules for protests and began the process of restoring order in Downtown Portland,” Officer Turner added. “Her accomplishments are all the more significant because they happened at a time when Portland simply could not recruit and retain police officers. And we continue to face the worst staffing shortage in our history.”

“Chief Outlaw had to navigate a history of uniquely difficult political dynamics in regards to policing while leading an organization that was both severely understaffed and under-resourced,” the union president said. “We wish Chief Outlaw all the best and look forward to working with Chief Resch.”

In April, Chief Outlaw told a meeting of Portland city commissioners that there are 120 vacancies in what should be a department of 1,000 officers for the city, KOIN reported.

Out of more than 60 applicants for public safety specialist jobs, only three were able to pass the required background check.

But the head of the police union said in a press release at the time that the officer shortage has less to do with passing the background check than the police bureau’s inability to attract the best applicants because of anti-police sentiment in the city, KOIN reported.

Chief Outlaw also banned U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers from using the city’s law enforcement training facility back in September.

“The use of PPB’s training facility by other law enforcement agencies should be consistent with City values,” Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a press release.

The PPB had signed a two-year contract with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) December of 2018, which allowed agents from ICE and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to lease and utilize the city’s Training Division facility.

The facility includes two firearms ranges, a vehicle operations area, classroom space, and a scenario village training area.

But on Sept. 16, the police bureau was alerted that there was a potential conflict between “city values” and ICE being allowed to lease the facility, according to the PPB press release.

“A mistake was made due to miscommunication during the contract approval process,” Chief Outlaw said in the release.” When the oversight was brought to our attention, we took immediate action.”

The department has already implemented a new process for future contracts “which ensures proper oversight, review, and approval of contracts,” the chief added.

Portland City Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty’s office praised the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) for having alerted the police bureau that ICE shouldn’t be allowed to use the city’s training facility.

The DSA is an openly radical anti-police group that was part of the “Occupy ICE” protests, and aims to “end all ICE activities” in Portland, The Oregonian reported.

“We greatly appreciate the work of DSA to help terminate the contract with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations,” Hardesty’s community outreach coordinator, Matt McNally, said in a letter to the DSA, according to The Oregonian.

“Without you bringing it to our attention, it could have very well gone unnoticed,” McNally wrote. “Our office believes that in no case should a sanctuary city be receiving funding from organizations as diametrically opposed to the values of sanctuary, such as ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations. Thanks to your organization’s work, we can now say that Portland will not be.”

The DSA said that getting ICE kicked out of the Portland police training center was “a small victory in a much larger battle,” according to The Oregonian.

Chief Outlaw will step into her role as the Philadelphia police commissioner on Feb. 10, according to The Oregonian.

Holly Matkin - December Tue, 2019


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