The police chief of Portland, Oregon, Danielle Outlaw, has been announced as Philadelphia’s next commissioner of the police department, the first African American woman to hold the position.
Outlaw has served as Portland’s chief of police since 2017 and is the first African American woman to have acted in that role, as well.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced Outlaw’s appointment Monday as the new head of the city’s police department.
Kenney said he appointed Outlaw because he sees a need for change in the department.
“While I have tremendous respect for our officers, the Philadelphia Police Department needs reform,” he said in a statement Monday. “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.”
Speaking at Philadelphia City Hall on Monday, Outlaw acknowledged her position as the first female African American commissioner.
“I do not take lightly that I am a first here. I understand what I represent, I understand who opened the doors for me and I understand it’s my obligation to hold the doors open behind me to ensure that we’re not in 2020 still talking about firsts,” she said.
What she will focus on as commissioner
The mayor said his office will support Outlaw in tackling “a host of difficult issues” including racism, gender discrimination and instances of sexual assault within the department.
“These are issues that too often negatively impact women – especially women of color – within the department,” Kenney said. “Commissioner Outlaw will implement reforms with urgency, so that racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination are not tolerated.”
Outlaw also expressed a pointed focus on reducing gun violence and supporting community members equitably.
“I will work relentlessly to reduce crime in Philadelphia – particularly the insidious gun violence that plagues too many communities,” she said. “And I will do so in a way that ensures all people are treated equitably regardless of their gender identity, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.”
Her commitment to building community relationships
While speaking Monday, Outlaw emphasized the importance of rebuilding the relationship between Philadelphia police and the residents they serve.
“I am convinced there can be humanity in authority; they are not mutually exclusive,” she said. “That was true in Oakland and in Portland, and I know it is true here in Philadelphia.”
In her more than two decades serving on police forces, Outlaw has frequently advocated for her idea of humanity in authority. In 2018, she discussed the topics in a TEDxPortland talk, “Policing in America: The Road to Reconciliation.”
She has also spoken at multiple venues about building community relationships after controversy, as well as topics such as investigating use of force, race and policing, and women in law enforcement.
Outlaw is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Human and Civil Rights Committee, as well as the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
She is expected to begin her new role with the Philadelphia Police Department in early February.