Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Danielle Outlaw Makes History as First Black Woman Commissioner of Philadelphia Police Department

Mary Scott
Jan 05, 2020
08:20 P.M.
Share this pen

Danielle Outlaw, a 43-year-old police officer, is making history as the first black woman to become Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department. Outlaw’s feat comes after a similar achievement in another city.


Outlaw has been making a name for herself in the police force for over two decades. After becoming the first black woman to serve as chief of the Portland Police Bureau, she is now set to do the same thing in Philly.


According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Outlaw takes over from another female, Christine Coulter, who has served as the interim commissioner following the controversial resignation of former Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. in August 2019.

Outlaw has been criticized on several occasions by both liberals and conservatives but has never lost the ability to stand by her actions

“I cannot do this alone… I ask each of you for more than your support. I ask for your help, your thoughts, your wisdom, and your ideas,” Outlaw said during an introductory press conference in Philadelphia, per the outlet.


She added:

“Most importantly, your time. Because I do not know what I do not know. This is not an us versus them, one side against the other. We can be supportive of police and we can be supportive of police accountability at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.”


According to Essence, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced Outlaw’s appointment on December 30, expressing the hope that Outlaw will be successful in tackling the issue of Philadelphia Police Department’s marred image.

The city’s PD has been plagued with sexual harassment and racial discrimination complaints, and Ross Jr. reportedly resigned after allegedly ignoring sexual harassment complaints because he’d had an affair with one of the complaining officers.


In a press statement obtained by Essence, Mayor Kenney said:

“While I have tremendous respect for our officers, the Philadelphia Police Department needs reform. I am appointing Danielle Outlaw because I am convinced she has the conviction, courage, and compassion needed to bring long-overdue reform to the Department.”


“With our support, she will tackle a host of difficult issues, from racism and gender discrimination to horrid instances of sexual assault on fellow officers,” he added. “These are issues that too often negatively impact women – especially women of color – within the Department.

As CNN reported, Outlaw also added that, besides executing reforms, she'd also be working hard to reduce gun violence and overall crime, and to support community members equitably.


Before her appointment in Philadelphia, Outlaw spent 20 years on the force in her hometown of Oakland, California, and another two years as police chief in Portland. She also delivered a 2018 TedxPortland talk about Policing in America.

Outlaw is a sociology graduate of the University of San Francisco and has a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University. The 5 ft. 4 cop also reportedly has a tattoo quote that reads: “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”

Per the Inquirer, Outlaw has been criticized on several occasions by both liberals and conservatives but has never lost the ability to stand by her actions and instructions, no matter how unpopular.

Outlaw is reportedly expected to resume her new role as Commissioner with the Philadelphia Police Department in early February.