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Bowser Begins National Search to Replace D.C. Police Chief

The official heading the search for a new Washington, D.C., police chief says the city hopes to announce its choice from a national search "shortly after" Police Chief Robert J. Contee retires from his post in June, the Washington Post reports. Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice Lindsey Appiah, tapped by Mayor Muriel Bowser to lead the search, is considering internal and external candidates in the wake of Contee's notification on Monday that he would leave to take a job at the FBI as assistant director of the Office of Partner Engagement, a role that involves building relationships with federal agencies and law enforcement officials across the country.

Contee presided over the department through the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and its fallout, the tail winds of the coronavirus pandemic, and clashes with the D.C. Council over issues such as how many officers should be on the force and whether police belong in schools. He also battled persistent surges in violent crime, with more than 200 killings in both 2021 and 2022. As of Thursday, homicides were up by 16 percent compared with the same time last year; violent crime was up by 7 percent, and property crime by 29 percent. Contee has made it clear that he was frustrated by what he has called the criminal justice “ecosystem” in Washington. He has argued that his officers arrest people only for the courts to release them back to the community without adequate support; and he has come out in favor of stringent sentences for violent offenders at a time when members of the city council were pushing for a revised criminal code, which Congress blocked, that would have lowered the statutory maximum penalty for some crimes.


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