D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser named Peter Newsham as the new police chief on Thursday morning at a press conference.
Newsham, 52, has served as interim police chief for the last five months, NBC Washington reports.
Under former police chief Cathy Lanier, Newsham served as assistant chief. For Bowser, part of the reason for picking Newsham for the position is because it preserves continuity within the department.
“As interim chief, Peter Newsham has been reliable and consistent,” Bowser said. “Last month, Chief Newsham oversaw the very successful presidential inauguration, as well as the Women’s March on Washington … With the eyes of the world on us, our officers stepped up to the plate and performed.”
Lanier also approved of the pick.
“I recommended Pete Newsham for the interim job because I knew he was the best choice heading into the inauguration,” Lanier said. “I feel the same way about him getting the nomination to be the permanent chief. I have worked with him for more than 25 years and I know he has what it takes to do the job. His selection is good for MPD and good for the city.”
During the press conference, Newsham pledged to tackle the problem of insufficient police officers and said he would look for “good and talented people.”
D.C. is currently hemorrhaging police officers, even as the local homicide rate is increasing over the last few years. According to the city, around 4,200 officers are needed to effectively police the streets. But at the end of 2015, there were only 3,800 officers.
The city council has so far unsuccessfully tabled measures to increase bonuses for officers thinking about retiring or quitting the force, leaving open the question of how Newsham is going to not only retain officers, but attract new blood, as well.
In the past, Newsham applied for the position of police chief in numerous other cities, one of those being Phoenix, Ariz. While he was a finalist in all three, he did not ultimately receive any offers.
Newsham, who has been with the police department for 28 years, still needs to be approved by the D.C. City Council to officially take on the position. It’s expected the approval process will go smoothly.
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