Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw is resigning to become a deputy security chief at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, ending her three-and-a-half-year run as the first Black woman to lead the police force. Her tumultuous tenure was marked by unprecedented challenges, including pandemic shutdowns, record levels of gun violence and homicides, mass protests that her department responded to with heavy-handed tactics, and significant staffing shortages amid waves of retirements and resignations, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Outlaw’s last day will be Sept. 22. Top deputy John Stanford, will serve as interim commissioner, said outgoing Mayor Jim Kenney. Stanford is a two-decade department veteran whose experience includes stints overseeing Internal Affairs, and serving as department spokesperson.
Outlaw said her departure was voluntary, but it comes just months before Kenney is set to leave office. Outlaw acknowledged that stepping aside now gives “whomever the new mayor is the opportunity to select their commissioner.” She believeds the timing was right because gun violence has begun to fall from its record-setting heights. The city’s year-to-date homicide tally is 20% lower than last year, although still higher than most other recent years in city history. Still, Outlaw said she believed the reduction is the result of the department and its roughly 6,000 employees remaining dedicated to driving down crime. “We’re really beginning to see the fruits of our labor,” Outlaw said. “We — not just me, all of us — have really endured some challenging times.” The police department has continued to face criticism, most recently over a case in which an officer fatally shot 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry in his car. Police initially provided an inaccurate account of what happened, forcing Outlaw to walk back the details other commanders had provided. She later moved to dismiss the officer who opened fire, Mark Dial, for failing to cooperate with the police investigation into the incident. Mayoral nominee Cherelle Parker is heavily favored to be the city’s next chief executive, and she had demurred when asked if she’d keep Outlaw. After rising through the ranks in her hometown of Oakland, Cal., she became chief of police in Portland, Ore., in 2017.