As a crime wave grips Philadelphia, the Republican mayoral nominee says he is not surprised by the resignation of the city’s police commissioner.
“It’s about time,” David Oh told Fox News. “I just felt she was very hamstrung here with an administration that was strained in its relationship with its own police officers.”
Danielle Outlaw announced her resignation Tuesday in a statement with Mayor Jim Kenney’s office after more than three years of service. Oh said the police commissioner faced a number of challenges from the outset, including the COVID-19 pandemic; the nationwide protests that ignited after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020; the subsequent movement to defund the police; weak-on-crime policies and rhetoric from the mayor’s office.
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A disturbing upward trend in homicides has plagued Philadelphia in the last several years, peaking in 2021 with 562 victims, according to data from the Philadelphia Police Department. Last year, the city recorded a slight decline of 516 victims. There were 499 homicide victims when Outlaw took over in 2020 and 277 victims when Kenney assumed office in 2016.
“I think she tried to do a good job, but after three and a half years, the morale in the police department is low and that morale has to be raised in order to deliver the level of services that we need to deliver in this city,” Oh said.
“I think the police force themselves need to know the police commissioner as someone who is straightforward, who is not someone who is going to bend or tolerate misconduct from the police but is going to have their backs when they are doing their best and when they’re doing what’s right,” he added.
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Oh said that the mayor’s policies that are “disagreeable” to the police “made her job challenging.”
“She had the unenviable job of basically not having real power over her police department and having to nonetheless be the one who delivers the bad news,” Oh said. “There was a lot of bad news for police officers coming out of the Kenney administration, and she’s the one who delivered it.”
The mayor signed legislation in 2021 to limit traffic stops for minor violations such as vehicle registrations, broken lights or using a car without an official inspection sticker. The former Philadelphia deputy commissioner, Joseph Sullivan, critiqued the policy, telling Fox News that traffic stops took as much as 80% of illegal guns off the street at one point.
Outlaw is the first Black woman to hold her position, representing the 6,000-member police department, the Associated Press reported.
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Oh said he worked with Outlaw on several occasions and found their interactions “extremely positive.”
“I did appreciate that she was, in my opinion, very responsive and trying to do a good job,” Oh said, mentioning frequent instances in which Outlaw met with community groups concerned about violence and hate crimes.
Oh said he hopes the next police commissioner is a Philadelphia native with established connections in the city, citing Outlaw’s background as the former leader of the Portland Police Department in Oregon as a disadvantage.
“She’s not from Philadelphia, so she actually never had a chance to develop a reputation or personal relationship with her police force,” Oh said. “I think what Philadelphia needs is a police commissioner who is very familiar with the city itself and is respected by both the police officers themselves and the public.”
He added that he has someone in mind who he would like to take over as police commissioner should he win the mayoral race in November.
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“They are a very experienced police officer respected by the public and the officers, and they would be on board with what I want,” he said. “I want to have the enforcement of laws returned to the city of Philadelphia, and we would start by communicating to people that laws are going to be enforced.”
He said his administration would pay special attention to the crime in the Kensington neighborhood and crack down on retail theft, prostitution, public defecation, open-air drug dealing, illegal dumping and illegal vehicles.
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First Deputy John M. Stanford will step up as interim police commissioner after Outlaw’s last day in her role on Sept. 22.
Outlaw said it was an “honor and privilege” to serve in her position.
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“The hard work, resilience, and professionalism of our force is truly commendable,” she said in a statement released by Kenney’s office. “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 did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Kenney’s office declined to comment.
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