Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announced she will leave her position amid a year marked by homicides and gun violence.
Outlaw will vacate her office on Sept. 22 in order to take over as the deputy chief security officer of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
“Commissioner Outlaw has worked relentlessly for three and a half years during an unprecedented era in our city and a number of crisis situations, and she deserves praise for her commitment to bring long-overdue reform to the Department after years of racism and gender discrimination prior to her appointment,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a statement reported by Fox News. “We wish her success in her new position and thank Commissioner Outlaw for her dedication to serve the residents of Philadelphia.”
“As weak gun laws in Pennsylvania continue to allow illegal and legal guns to infiltrate our city, the Commissioner and her team have stayed focused on new approaches to manage the gun violence crisis,” he added.
A California native, Outlaw became the city’s police commissioner on Feb. 10, 2020.
According to Philadelphia Magazine:
She started her job with much fanfare, arriving from Portland, Oregon, to become the first Black woman to lead Philly’s force. She was tasked with cleaning up in the wake of numerous departmental scandals, from the mishandled sexual harassment claim that toppled the former chief, department lifer Richard Ross, to the 300-some officers found to be posting racist content on social media.
But not long after Outlaw, 45, started, she found herself in a crucible of COVID, fury over her department’s violent response to protests, and anguish over the police killing of a civilian. In the span of a few months, she went from being the subject of adoring think-pieces about her hairstyle and fingernails to having major media outlets call for her resignation. Before she got to set her agenda — before we got to know who she is as a cop, as a person — the world fell apart, and we all retreated to our bunkers.
As violent crime increased, doubt about Outlaw’s future with the city grew.
Outlaw and Kenney have been criticized for authorizing the use of tear gas during protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020.
“The city eventually settled more than $9 million in lawsuits brought by hundreds of protestors,” reports Axios.
By Sept of 2023, more than 290 homicides had been recorded in Philadelphia and gun violence was a much debated topic ahead of the city’s mayoral and council races.
The Philadelphia controller’s office noted that the majority of the homicide victims were Black men and approximately 47% were between the ages of 18 and 30. There have been 980 nonfatal shootings this year.
First Deputy John Stanford will serve as the interim police commissioner in Philadelphia until Outlaw’s replacement is selected.