Friday, May 15, 2020

Where's Danielle Outlaw? Rumor Mill Has Her Leaving Town

By Ralph Cipriano

While Philadelphia's new police commissioner remains conspicuously out of sight, rumors are sweeping the department that she may be quitting, supposedly to head back to the West Coast.

The rumor mill had Outlaw returning to her native Oakland, where she previously served as deputy chief, from 2013 to 2017. And where on Feb. 21st, an independent commission fired Anne Kirkpatrick, Oakland's first female police chief, and they're still looking for a permanent replacement.

When asked about Outlaw's rumored departure, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department, Officer Eric McLaurin, responded, "We have no information pertaining to that." At a press briefing earlier today, managing Director Brian Abernathy didn't put out any fires when he stated that he was not concerned about Outlaw leaving "at this time." A top elected official also heard the rumor but said it wasn't true.

A spokesperson for the Oakland Police Department could not be reached. But a spokesperson for the Oakland mayor's office, who described Outlaw as "one of my favorite people of all time," said she hadn't heard the rumor.

Back in Philadelphia, John McNesby, FOP president, wasn't buying it. "She's not going anywhere," he said. "Bad rumor."

On Dec. 30th, after an extensive, nation-wide search, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the appointment of Outlaw, the former chief of police in Portland, Ore.

Outlaw, 43, became the first black woman to lead the city's police force, drawing an annual salary of $285,000.

It was a big jump that Outlaw was making from a department with just 877 members in Portland to the fourth largest police department in the nation in Philadelphia, with 6,750 sworn members. Sources say at first she felt overwhelmed by the job, and many of the troops wondered whether she was in over her head.

She arrived in the city on Feb. 10 flashing a charismatic smile, and seemingly filled with optimism. But, as fellow cops and reporters soon discovered, she came East with no discernible plan for how to deal with Philadelphia's biggest law enforcement problem, a surging crime rate, especially gun crimes.

"It takes a lot to turn a ship, and turn the tide, but it certainly can be done." Outlaw told the Inquirer when she first took office. But when asked by Dann Cuellar of 6ABC about how she was going to handle an epidemic of gun violence in the city, she basically responded that the problem existed well before she got here and would continue long after she was gone.

She got off to a shaky start. On her first day on the job, Feb. 10th, when Outlaw was making the rounds meeting and greeting the troops, several officers mentioned to her that her signature black nail polish was in violation of official police department policy, which stated, "only clear nail polish is acceptable while in uniform."

The next day, Outlaw responded by sending out her first official order, which effectively did away with the clear nail polish directive. The police commissioner's message was addressed to "all commanding officers, districts/units." The subject: a new "amendment to directive 6.7, 'uniforms and equipment.'"

Henceforth, the commissioner stated, in the uniforms and equipment directive, the section that states "only clear nail polish is acceptable while in uniform" was hereby deleted. Outlaw wrote that her "general message shall supersede Directive 6.7" until such time as "the directive is amended to reflect this change."

"Commanding officers will ensure all personnel are made aware of the contents of this general" message," the police commissioner wrote. She ordered that her general message should be read "at all roll calls for three [3] consecutive days."

Signed: "Danielle M. Outlaw, Police Commissioner."

After Big Trial reported the policy directive, Outlaw was greeted on social media with support from some female cops, but mostly derision from male cops who basically said the whole thing was a joke that reflected poorly on the credibility of the rookie female police commissioner.

Also on her first day on the job, TV cameras filmed Inspector Sekou Kinebrew chauffeuring Outlaw around town. Some cops were offended by TV footage of the tour that showed Kinebrew opening the passenger door for Outlaw, and then closing the door behind her.

One veteran cop responded to the display of chivalry on camera by saying, "What the fuck was that? Is she the queen? Are they dating?"

After an initial spate of public appearances, Outlaw retreated to her office at police headquarters, where she issued daily policy directives. And after the coronavirus hit, she began working partly from home. And she stayed out of sight. Unlike previous police commissioners, she became a desk bound administrator who shunned the spotlight and avoided the TV cameras.

Another rookie move by the new police commissioner -- although she greeted the troops on her first day on the job, she waited 40 days before meeting with her command staff. By the time she got around to meeting the brass, she knew she screwed up.

She began the meeting by saying she was sorry she met with the officers first, and that she realized it was a big mistake.

On March 17th, she sent around department-wide email, saying that as of 4 p.m., because of the coronavirus pandemic, Philadelphia police would no longer be making arrests for all narcotics offenses, theft from persons, retail theft, theft from auto, burglary and vandalism.

In addition, there would be no more arrests for all bench warrants, stolen autos, economic crimes such as passing bad checks and fraud, and prostitution.

According to the message sent out that day to all police chief inspectors, staff inspectors and police captains, cops who "encounter persons who would ordinarily be arrested for these offenses" instead were instructed to temporarily detain the suspects, identify them and then release them, subject to the issuance of future arrest warrants.

After she sent out that email, Outlaw got upset when somebody leaked it, first to Big Trial, and then to other media outlets. At a subsequent press conference called to explain the new policy, Outlaw complained that the leaking of her memo was "disrespectful" and posed a "huge distraction" that "created undue fear . . . and alarm in a time of crisis."

To many of her fellow cops, however, once again, Commissioner Outlaw came off as inept and  naive.

Said one cop at the time, "She leaked her bullshit plan about not locking anyone up during COVID-19 to the entire Department, via email, and then she wondered how it was given to the news media within seconds."

"Hello?" the veteran cop said. "What fucking world are you living in? It was public the minute you hit 'send.'"

The next time the press and public saw Outlaw was at a joint March 31st press conference held with the mayor, when both officials publicly ripped District Attorney Larry Krasner for basically giving a free pass to every criminal caught illegally carrying a gun in the city of Philadelphia.

"There has to be teeth, there has to be consequences" to illegally carrying a gun in the city, the police commissioner said. "We can't see a revolving door." Especially when there's been "a spike in shootings."

But that was one of her rare public appearances. After that, she was seldom seen. Some veteran cops began referring to Outlaw behind her back as "MIA." Others called her the "scared little girl running this department." 

Meanwhile, the crime rate is surging, the murder rate is at a record pace, and lots of people in the police department are wondering, where's the commissioner?

"There is NO respect for her," one veteran cop griped. "She has off-put almost everyone, except for the black females. They see themselves in her, so they love her.  That's about all she has going on for her."

Even some of Outlaw's initial supporters have expressed public disappointment over her lack of visibility. 

On April 28th, Inquirer columnist Jenice Amstrong, a fellow black female who's down with the struggle against racism and sexism, said she tried to score an interview with Outlaw, but didn't even get a courtesy response back from the police department.

Big Trial has gotten a similar run-around when seeking to interview the police commissioner.

"I'm rooting for her success," Inky columnist Amstrong wrote. "But we hardly see her. Previous commissioners were always familiar faces at the scene of major homicides at all times of the night . . ."

"We're used to more from our commissioners," David Fisher of the National Black Police Association told Armstrong. "I welcomed her and I was in support of her." But, Fisher said, "It's hard to support someone who is invisible."

Meanwhile, Outlaw is not even a visible presence at virtual meetings.

A couple of days ago, they had a virtual meeting of city officials known as a "shooting meeting" where they discuss recent incidents of gun violence in the city. The meeting was run by Deputy Police Commissioner Melvin Singleton, and it included top officials from the D.A.'s office, the attorney general's office, the FBI, ATF, DEA, the police department, prisons, probation, etc.

Everybody was on camera to discuss gun violence except for one official -- Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. Not only was she not seen at the virtual meeting -- she also wasn't heard for most of the meeting, letting Singleton run the show.

Last night, with the rumor mill still swirling, Inspector Sekou Kinebrew, commanding officer of the Police Department's Office of Media Relations/Public Affairs, sent over an email that emphatically stated, "To be clear, Commissioner Outlaw is not departing the Philadelphia Police Department."

Kinebrew also attempted to rebut anonymous criticism of the commissioner contained in this story by saying that in recent months Outlaw has had a strong virtual presence among police commanders and community leaders.

"On April 30th, Commissioner Outlaw held a series of virtual meetings with commanders of all ranks," Kinebrew wrote. "Moreover, last week, the commissioner held a series of virtual meetings with internal and community stakeholders to discuss violent crime and the Department's response to it."

"Additionally, with regard to last week's inter-agency 'shooting meeting,' your article erroneously reports that 'Everybody was on camera to discuss gun violence except for one official -- Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw,' " Kinebrew wrote. "In truth, Commissioner Outlaw was present for the two-and-a-half hour meeting, and was the very first speaker. In fact, the meeting was conceived and convened as a direct result of her vision."

"It is my sincere hope that you will update your article to include the corrections that I have provided to you in this correspondence."

"Respectfully, Sekou."

So there you have it folks. In Philadelphia, the big news flash is that the police commissioner is still here. 


  1. Wow,such an empty article. Nothing happens in this city overnight. I'm trying to figure out why did the few comments from the Police men who didn't get the job,make this a real story. You must need some attention. If a man had gotten the job, would any of this have been of any body's concern due to her arriving around the end of April and ran smack into a pandemic. Two and a half months and you call her names. Your sexist horns are showing. Only God can turn things around in two and a half months. She is due the respect of time like every other man that has had the commissioners job in this City.

    1. This has nothing to do with race or gender. This has to do with the poor managerial skills and decision making of Kenney. She may have been a great cop and Commissioner but we won't ever know because it was obvious that Jim Kenney tugged on her puppet strings and wanted to call the shots. Everything he does, he errs. His back is up against the wall right now if this true. He can't appoint Christine Coulter as Acting Commissioner because he already blew her off for the permanent spot. He let Joe Sullivan go who would have been a great choice. He used the"affair" excuse to "allow: Rich Ross to leave and he was great. He was Ramsey's choice and Ramsey was exceptional. Agai . If this is true, Kenney won't know which way to turn.

  2. What are you talking about???? She should’ve never taken the job. She knew about the huge crime problem in this city months before she got here. A qualified person would’ve been smart enough to at least make an effort at fixing some of our violent crimes. A real leader is on the front lines with the troops to show they care not hiding in the basement. Ross wasn’t perfect but he made himself visible to show he cared. For victims as well as the cops handling the mess. Great pick mayor. Maybe he should call his heroes MeekMills and Malcolm Jenkins for their new pick. Thanks for visiting Ms. Outlaw but you better hurry or you’ll miss your plane.

  3. She's a disgrace a CI small deserved that job before she even deserved tobstepnfootbin philly . She's Dougherty and kenneys Puppet . She never even swore in publicly. Imagine that the only PPD Commish to not swear in publicly... Bye Felicia ....i know I wrote her and emailed her and didn't even get the common courtesy of an automated response ..BYE

  4. This is on Jim Kenney. This has been a bad hire since Day 1. Either she fooled him so bad in the interview or his was just hell bent for election to make this fit his woke progressive agenda.

  5. Joel Fitzgerald is available we hear. Oh wait... Did Kenney even give him an interview? Or Branville Bard? Both of these guys have extensively more experience!! Oh I forgot....They are both not Black females like sooooo many people wanted!!

  6. Philly is NOT Portland Oregon!!! I hope she see this thru 💪🏾, but u gotta be tough & have heart, balls!!

  7. I’ve been screaming about this for over a month and screaming why haven’t the big news agencies 6ABC, 3CBS, and 10NBC or 29FOX picker this up or questioned why she wasn’t public. I even had a back and forth with Ralph a month ago about this exact topic. I don’t wanna hear that she’s getting unfair criticism because she’s a woman. That has nothing to do with anything. That’s just a bullshit excuse if anything. This girl should have never even been hired. She was nowhere near qualified to run a big department like this. Portland and Oakland’s PD’s are not even half the size of Philadelphia. She’s just waiting until they have a replacement and she’s out. If you couldn’t see the writing on the wall your blind. At one point I was tweeting her and Kenney and asking where she was. Of course I got no answer but it was fun anyway.

  8. Bard and Fitzgerald would likely have been too effective against crime! Perhaps, as home grown talent, they would have clashed with our DA.

  9. Where the hell is Outlaw today? Not in the city where everything is crashing down, that's for damn sure! It's a disgrace! They should have kept Chris Coulter as the cop who would run this city. Coulter was always on the front line. Philly should be ashamed of themselves. At least the so called mayor should be! Pathetic! Such a waste of tax payer money!

  10. Where were both Kenney and Outlaw the night that our city was destroyed. What a disgrace. They show up after the fact and make excuses. Both of them should be fired.


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