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September 05, 2023

Danielle Outlaw resigns as Philadelphia police commissioner

The former head of the PPD will leave on Sept. 22 for a new position with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

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Danielle Outlaw resigns City of Philadelphia/Flickr

Danielle Outlaw has run the Philadelphia Police since Feb. 10, 2020, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the city.

Danielle Outlaw has resigned as police commissioner, the city announced Tuesday.

Outlaw is leaving the top job at the Philadelphia Police Department for a new position with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as deputy chief security officer. Her last day will be Friday, Sept. 22, after which First Deputy John Stanford will take over as interim police commissioner.

"It has been my honor and privilege to serve during Mayor Kenney’s administration and alongside each member of the Philadelphia Police Department," Outlaw said in a statement. "The hard work, resilience, and professionalism of our force is truly commendable. Our team has shown incredible adaptability and has worked tirelessly to maintain our pillars of organizational excellence, crime prevention and reduction, and community engagement and inclusion even in the face of adversity. My staff’s teamwork, innovative thinking, and determination have kept the Department moving forward, and for that, I am extremely grateful."

Outlaw has been Philadelphia's police commissioner since Feb. 10, 2020. She was the first Black woman to lead the PPD, as well as the first Black woman to lead the police department in Portland, Oregon. Her exit comes a few months before a new mayor is elected.

She has overseen the Philly police during some turbulent years, including the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and a gun violence crisis that led to 562 homicides in 2021, the most of any year in city history. That number ebbed to 516 last year, and 292 so far in 2023.

Her department also received heavy criticism for its handling of the 2020 protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Philly police sprayed protestors along I-676 with tear gas and rolled into West Philly in armored vehicles, firing rubber bullets at crowds. Some of those protestors filed a class action lawsuit against the city over the police response, securing a $9.25 million settlement earlier this year.

Outlaw and the PPD are currently under fire for presenting a false narrative around the police shooting of Eddie Irizarry, who was killed in his parked car in Kensington on Aug. 14. Police initially claimed that the shooting happened outside the vehicle and that Irizarry "lunged" at Officer Mark Dial and his partner, who has not been identified, with a knife. Surveillance video from a nearby home and internal review of body-worn camera footage later made it clear that Irizarry never left his car and did not lunge at officers. 

"We have nothing to hide here," Outlaw said at a press conference on Aug. 23. "We make mistakes. Unfortunately the information that was released had pretty dire consequences."

Outlaw suspended Dial with intent to fire after he failed to cooperate with internal investigations. The body-worn camera footage of the shooting is expected to be released in the next week.

Outlaw took over the PPD after her predecessor Richard Ross resigned in 2019 amid allegations of sexual harassment and racial and gender discrimination within the department. While Ross was not accused of harassment or discrimination, a lawsuit claimed he failed to do anything to stop it. He also allegedly had an affair with one of the plaintiffs in that suit.

"Commissioner Outlaw has worked relentlessly for three and a half years during an unprecedented era in our city and a number of crisis situations, and she deserves praise for her commitment to bring long-overdue reform to the Department after years of racism and gender discrimination prior to her appointment," Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. "We wish her success in her new position and thank Commissioner Outlaw for her dedication to serve the residents of Philadelphia."

Outlaw's interim successor, Stanford, joined the Philadelphia police in 2002. He previously held leadership roles in Internal Affairs and Public Affairs.

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