Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw is not heading to New York City.
After weeks of rumors that Outlaw was a frontrunner to take over the New York Police Department next year, that city’s mayor-elect Eric Adams told the New York Post on Tuesday that Keechant Sewell, chief of detectives in Nassau County, would instead be his next top cop. Sewell will be the first woman to lead the nation’s biggest police force.
Outlaw had regularly been mentioned by the New York press corps as a top prospect for the job. But when questioned about her candidacy at an unrelated event Tuesday, she said she would not comment on “rumors and speculation.” And during a press briefing last week, she denied that she would be resigning imminently to leave and take the job in New York, calling that “a rumor that just out there, it’s wild and it’s out of control.” Still, she did not deny interviewing for the job or being interested in it.
“I appreciate the honorable mentions and it’s quite flattering, quite frankly,” she said last week. “But I will tell you, I am still continuing to focus on my work here, and obviously if I had information to share I would share it.”
She could not be reached for immediate comment Tuesday night.
Had she been tapped to take over in New York, it would have capped a remarkable career trajectory for Outlaw, 45. Just eight years ago, she was serving as a captain in her hometown of Oakland, a department of about 750 officers. She became chief of police in Portland, Ore., in 2017, before starting as Philadelphia’s commissioner in February 2020, where she oversees about 6,000 officers.
The NYPD employs about 36,000 uniformed officers and 19,000 civilian employees in the nation’s largest city.
Outlaw’s tenure in Philadelphia has often been marked by turmoil. The city set a record for annual homicides in 2021, and more than 4,000 people have been shot over the past two years — a pace not seen in the city in decades. Her department was criticized for its heavy-handed and undisciplined response to widespread protests last spring. And like many law enforcement agencies across the country, the Police Department has been hemorrhaging staff amid poor morale and difficulty recruiting.
Outlaw is the first Black woman to lead Philadelphia’s Police Department, and she was hired following scandals over allegations of racism, sexism, and sexual harassment. She faced other significant challenges almost as soon as she was sworn in, including the fatal shooting of Cpl. James O’Connor IV, and being forced to adjust patrol and investigative strategies amid the pandemic.
Outlaw is one of the city’s highest paid employees, with an annual salary of $285,000.
Staff writer Mensah M. Dean contributed to this article.