Updated: Jun 18
Police chief jobs are open in Chicago, New Orleans, Louisville, Charleston, S.C., Washington, D.C., and New York City unexpectedly joined the search after its commissioner announced her departure. Baltimore’s police commissioner left June 8. When the mayor quickly filled that position with an internal promotion, it threw another police executive in the mix of candidates available for cities competing to hire replacements at a critical time for law enforcement, reports the Washington Post. Departments are struggling to fill depleting front-line ranks in a pool of scarce recruits while confronting violent crime. They are trying to reimagine traditional policing models after social and racial justice protests prompted by the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. “It’s a real challenge to find someone who meets the goal of dealing with crime while also reforming a police department,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum, which helps cities search for police leaders. “There are very few people who can do that.”
The Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents police agencies from the largest cities in the U.S. and Canada, said the turnover of police executives continues a trend in which leaders of 69 of 70 of its U.S. members have departed since January 2020. Dallas Chief Eddie Garcia, president of the association, said officers from every rank need to evolve, noting complex challenges for any new chief in regaining public trust, earning recognition for sacrifices officers make and resolving a “national staffing crisis.” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser launched a nationwide search after Robert Contee announced in April he planned to retire as police chief and take a job with the FBI. The mayor promoted the 34-year veteran in January 2021, saying he was the only person she had considered for the job. Reports have circulated in Baltimore that the city’s police commissioner, Michael Harrison, hired in 2019 from New Orleans, where he had been police superintendent, was interested in the D.C. job. Harrison has denied those reports.