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DC Police Chief’s Retirement Presents Challenge For Bowser Amid City Violence

REUTERS/Larry Downing

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Washington, D.C. Chief of Police Cathy Lanier is retiring in September after a decade of service, presenting a challenge to Mayor Muriel Bowser who must find a replacement amid growing concern over crime in the city.

Lanier maintained popularity throughout her tenure, beginning in 2007, as a trusted figurehead in D.C. leadership and crime prevention. The annual homicide count for the District dropped significantly for most of Lanier’s tenure, falling from a high of 186 in 2008 to a low of 88 in 2012. The homicide rate spiked 54 percent, however, in 2015 and is only 10 percent lower so far this year. Homicides have tripled this year in Ward 3, reports The Washington Post.

Bowser’s future nominee will have to withstand review from the D.C. Council, which is expected to be tough on the mayor following a number of failed nominations over the past year. The District’s popular schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced in June she will leave her post in September, leaving another critical vacancy for Bowser to fill. (RELATED: DC Medical Director Drops BRUTAL Resignation Letter, Calls Out Officials)

“The stakes are incredibly high for the District of Columbia to ensure that we have the highest-quality chancellor as well as a police chief, given the critical role these two play,” Council member Kenyan McDuffie told The Washington Post.

Bowser’s nominee to lead the city’s mental health services resigned after one month in April, following reports questioning his past experience and effectiveness. Dr. Jullette Saussy resigned her post as medical director of D.C.’s fire department after only seven months in the position, blasting the District government’s “highly toxic” safety culture.

If the appointment process bleeds into 2017, Bowser may face even greater challenges getting her chosen nominee through the Council. Former Mayor Vincent Gray, a Bowser foe, took back his seat in Ward 3 from Bowser ally Yvette Alexander in the Democratic primary earlier this year, and is a vocal critic of the mayor on the issue of violent crimes.

Bowser wants to pick someone from within the Metropolitan Police Department to replace Lanier instead of embarking on a national search. The mayor praised Lanier for her service as Chief of Police and 26 years of dedication to the MPD. Lanier is leaving for top security position with the National Football League.

“She believes in the power of building relationships with communities as the best way to deter and solve crime,” Bowser said in a statement Tuesday. “Cathy Lanier has made the District of Columbia a safer and stronger place to live, work, and play.”

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