Danielle Outlaw is the first Black woman ever to become Philadelphia’s police commissioner. Her recent appointment came just a few months after the department started dealing with several controversies including the involvement of its former commissioner in sexual harassment scandals.
Outlaw, who is from Oakland, previously served as chief of police in Portland, Oregon since 2017. She is now the first Black woman ever to lead the Philadelphia police department, and the second woman overall, following Christine Coulter, who served as the acting commissioner since August.
In August, former commissioner Richard Ross, who is also Black, was forced to resign when a lawsuit surfaced accusing him of ignoring sexual harassment claims of an officer against a fellow officer. He was with the department in the last 30 years and was the commissioner since January 2016.
Aside from the several cases of gender and racial discrimination and harassment in the department, the crime rate and poverty level also continued to increase, pushing the authorities to appoint a new police commissioner in hopes to curb it.
“I am very qualified to make the jump,” Outlaw said in her introductory press conference. “The issues remain the same. I am very experienced in each of them.”
Outlaw was chosen from 31 candidates, 18 of which were from the Philadelphia force. When Mayor Jim Kenney announced her appointment, many have been glad that the city chose a woman of color for the job.
“Most of us are very encouraged,” Philadelphia city councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell told the Philadelphia Inquirer about her fellow council members. “They’re especially happy that she’s a woman — and happy of course that it’s an African American woman — but especially happy that she’s a woman.”