Philadelphia’s new police commissioner has arrived.
Danielle Outlaw reported for duty before dawn Monday, walking into Police Headquarters about 5:45 a.m. and staying for about an hour before heading back out in her uniform, and telling reporters she was excited to visit officers working in districts.
“Just some face time,” she said of her plans for her first morning on duty. “Get an opportunity ... to know who’s out here, to know who’s out here getting the work done, and for them to have an opportunity to see me.”
She attended a morning roll call at the 26th District in Fishtown, then spent most of the rest of her day in a series of meetings, the department said.
Outlaw, 43, the former chief in Portland, Ore., and a 20-year veteran of the Oakland Police Department before that, was introduced as Mayor Jim Kenney’s choice for top cop at the end of December.
Her installation Monday came after a particularly violent start to 2020: The 41 homicides recorded through Sunday represent the highest year-to-date total in the city since at least 2007, according to police statistics. Last year’s annual homicide tally was also the highest in more than a decade.
Outlaw is the first black woman to lead the 6,500-member department. A native of Oakland, she joined the city’s police force in 1998 after graduating from the University of San Francisco. She spent the next two decades climbing the ranks, becoming deputy chief in 2013.
In 2017, Outlaw left to become chief of Portland’s police department. Kenney appointed her after an extensive and largely secretive search process last year.
She takes over for acting Commissioner Christine M. Coulter, who served in that role for six months following the abrupt resignation of Richard Ross in August. Ross stepped down after a woman contended in a lawsuit that he had retaliated against her for breaking off an affair with him, accusations he has denied.
Coulter returned Monday to the rank of deputy commissioner.
Kenney has tasked Outlaw with addressing a host of challenges, including the city’s ongoing gun violence epidemic, and claims of racial and gender discrimination within the department that were spotlighted following Ross’ resignation.
John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said he and his union members were looking forward to working with Outlaw as she transitions into her new job.
“She was on the job bright and early,” he said. “We welcome her. She’s going to do just fine.”