Trending Topics

Meet Danielle Outlaw, Philadelphia’s First Black Woman Police Commissioner

The city of Philadelphia has a new police commissioner, and she’s a Black woman.

On Monday, Mayor Jim Kenney named Danielle Outlaw as the new head of the city police department, making her the first African-America woman to hold the position. Outlaw, former police chief of Portland, Oregon, is now in charge of the fourth-largest police department in the U.S., with 6,300 sworn officers, according to the agency’s website.

Danielle Outlaw

In her new role as Philadelphia police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw said she will work on tackling crime and gun violence in the city. (Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images)

“I think constantly about what it takes to be a police officer,” Kenney said in a statement. “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. After meeting and speaking with her at length, I came away confident that Danielle Outlaw possesses the strength, integrity, and empathy vital to the tasks ahead.”

Outlaw’s appointment concluded an extensive four-month search in which over 30 candidates were considered, including several from within the department.

Kenney wrote that “while I have tremendous respect for our officers, the Philadelphia Police Department needs reform.”

Outlaw is native of Oakland, California, who served on the city’s police force for nearly 20 years before becoming the second female deputy chief in the history of the department. She would continue rising through the ranks and in 2017 became the first Black woman chief of Portland PD.

“I am honored by the faith that Mayor Kenney is placing in me to lead the Philadelphia Police Department,” Outlaw said her own press release, adding that “while I’m new to Philadelphia, I’m not new to the challenges of big-city, 21st century policing.”

“It will be a privilege to serve as Philadelphia Police Commissioner and to serve all who live and work in this great city,” she continued.

Outlaw will take over for interim Commissioner Christine Coulter, who got the role following the resignation of ex-Commissioner Richard Ross back in August. At the time, the department was grappling with multiple scandals, including the surfacing of racist social media posts that cost over a dozen officers their jobs.

The newly-named top cop said she will work on reducing crime in Philly with a specific focus on addressing gun violence. Outlaw said it is also her mission to begin strengthening trust between police and the communities they serve.

“Modern policing is data-driven, but the paramount factor is not so easily quantified: trust,” she continued. “I am convinced that trust can be restored, here and across the nation. I am convinced that community-police relations can be rebuilt and fortified through dialogue, transparency, and accountability.”

Lastly, Outlaw said she plans to serve the city in a way that ensures all residents are treated equally regardless of their race, gender identity, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Outlaw will begin her new role with the Philadelphia Police Department in early February.

Back to top