Richmond Times-Dispatch

After 31 years, Washington’s police chief leaves for job in PrinceWill­iam

- BY PETER HERMANN, FENIT NIRAPPIL, MICHAEL BRICE-SADDLER AND JUSTIN JOUVENAL

WASHINGTON— District of Columbia Police Chief Peter Newsham is leaving the force to take over the police department in Prince William County, ending a threedecad­e career in law enforcemen­t in the nation’s capital.

His departure from one of the most visible law enforcemen­t posts in the country comes as homicides escalate in the Washington and the chief finds himself increasing­ly at odds with city leaders on how to negotiate changes in policing amid a reckoning over race and social justice.

The news came abruptly in a news release from the Prince William Board of County Supervisor­s. District Council Chairman Phil Mendelson learned of Newsham’s new job when a reporter contacted him Tuesday night.

In a statement, Mayor Muriel Bowser thanked the chief and said that

“he led the department through a time of great change and challenge for our city and our nation, and we appreciate his distinguis­hed service to the District.”

She said an interim chief will be announced soon.

Newsham said his departure felt bitterswee­t but added that he looked forward to taking on a new challenge.

“After 31 years, it’s time for a change, and I saw the opportunit­y in Prince William,” Newsham said in an interview. “It’s a county that’s growing, a county that needs good policing like any part of [the District].”

The chief said he will stay in his role until after President-elect Joe Biden’s

inaugurati­on in January.

The District will join a number of the Washington area’s other jurisdicti­ons in hunts for police chiefs. Over the past five months, the leaders of department­s in the counties of Fairfax, Arlington, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel all have announced that they were stepping down or retiring.

In the District, tensions between Newsham and the liberal D.C. Council have been growing for some time and became worse in the aftermath of demonstrat­ions drawing thousands to Washington to rally for changes to policing in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapoli­s.

The council approved $15 million in cuts to the police department, a relatively modest trim compared with the steep cuts sought by activists but one opposed by the mayor, who said it would jeopardize public safety.

The council also approved emergency legislatio­n, including a measure requiring the department to publicly identify officers who use deadly force and to post footage of the incidents. Police and council members also feuded over law enforcemen­t tactics used against protesters, including spraying chemical irritants.

 ?? JONATHAN NEWTON/ THEWASHING­TON POST ?? Peter Newsham’s departure asWashingt­on’s police chief came as homicides escalated in the city and as the chief found himself increasing­ly at odds with council members.
JONATHAN NEWTON/ THEWASHING­TON POST Peter Newsham’s departure asWashingt­on’s police chief came as homicides escalated in the city and as the chief found himself increasing­ly at odds with council members.

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