Friday, July 3, 2020

Danielle Outlaw: Not On Vacation And Not Into Sound Bites

By Ralph Cipriano

Every few weeks, a new rumor sweeps through the Philadelphia Police Department about new Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

In May, one of the earliest rumors had Outlaw heading back to the West Coast, to take over as police chief in her native Oakland. Other rumors had an unhappy Outlaw negotiating a buyout, and packing her bags for other locales.

This week, the big rumor was that Outlaw was supposedly out of the office on a two-week vacation sandwiched around the July 4th holiday, when all days off for cops have been canceled for Saturday, because a fresh round of protests is expected in the birthplace of democracy. As a joke, somebody sent around a photo of a milk carton with the police commissioner's face on it, under the caption, "Missing. Have You Seen Me? If found, contact Philly Police."

"Bullshit rumors trying to undermine her," snapped Managing Director Brian Abernathy, when asked about the Outlaw on vacation rumor; he referred further comment to the police department.

But today, instead of having a department flack issue a statement, Outlaw decided to address the latest rumor personally. Not true about that vacation, she stated firmly in a phone interview today. "As you know there's rumors that just run amok" at the Philly P.D. But contrary to rumors, Outlaw said, "I'm here and I'll be working this weekend."

In her first four months on the job, Outlaw has had to deal with an officer getting murdered in the line of duty, a pandemic, and the George Floyd protests that the department clearly was unprepared for. The protests quickly devolved into riots, looting and arson fires that left the city with hundreds of millions of dollars in property damages.

As one crisis after another hit the P.D., Outlaw came under steady criticism from inside and outside the department for not being visible enough on the job, at venues like crime scenes, press conferences, and the front lines when protesters were storming the city. 

As one veteran police commander put it, "A police commissioner is expected to be seen by the troops, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, fighting alongside them. Not sitting in the comfort of her office, which is apparently all she does all day."

Asked about the visibility issue, Outlaw says that mugging for the cameras is not her style. And instead of hiding in her office, she's says she's out and about in the city, but on her own terms.

"I'll drive around and pop up at precincts," she said. "It's not planned. It's more authentic. When I show up I don't travel with cameras, I don't do things for cameras."

About her critics, Outlaw says, "They want cameras, they want sound bites."

"All I know how to do is be me," she says. "I don't do anything for attention's sake." And as far as those rumors about her leaving town, forget it. 

"I genuinely have a love for the community," she said. "This is my home. I've got a family here. Folks got me for good."

Outlaw's visits to local police districts are indeed quiet unscheduled events, with no fanfare. On one such early visit in May, Outlaw told the cops she was there trying to learn the city. One cop was impressed after his one-on-one talk with the new police commissioner. Said another cop after the visit, "She likes people to be real with her and she hopes people do not take her kindness for weakness."

Outlaw herself says she's still learning the city while traveling around town with a face mask on during the pandemic.

"They're still trying to figure out who I am," she said of the rank and file. "I recognize that I'm definitely an outsider, but I'm dealing with far more distractions than I should be." Distractions that she says her male predecessors didn't have to deal with.

The distractions include false rumors about her and anonymous critics like the ones on this blog who call her names like "the little girl" who allegedly runs the department.

I asked Outlaw why the troops are always talking about her.

"There's a lot of people who applied for my job and didn't get it," she says. Similarly, there's a lot of people who wanted to be members of her executive committee that oversees the department, but didn't get that either.

She talked about dealing with "a sense of pettiness that most' folks don't realize they're engaging in. It's disheartening," she said, as well as "a distraction" from "a lot of good work that's going on in the department."

"People are still trying to figure me out," she says again.

Outlaw says she knows that department morale is low, and in the wake of the George Floyd murder, it's a horrible time to be a cop.

"It's not just me," she said, it's the entire department that's "not getting the benefit of the doubt" from the public, as well as the media. But she says she plans to "continue to uplift and positively praise those in the department who are continuing to do the right thing."

Morale in the department is indeed at rock bottom, and Philly cops are leaving at record rates. More than 20 cops resigned, retired or were dismissed on Thursday; another 20 cops filed to leave the department on Friday.

Critics blame Outlaw for the low morale and rip her for firing cops accused of misconduct during the riots, such as Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna, who was indicted by D.A. Larry Krasner, but was terminated before an Internal Affairs investigation was completed. And Chief Inspector Anthony Boyle, who was dismissed after an investigation by Internal Affairs was completed.

There was also the demotion of Deputy Police Commissioner Dennis Wilson, who, in the absence of Outlaw on the front lines, authorized the use of tear gas on protesters who were trying to take over I-676. 

Wilson was demoted in humiliating fashion at a press conference where he had to fall on his sword, and confess that he was solely responsible for the decision to fire tear gas.

But Outlaw defends her recent personnel moves, saying, "We have to hold ourselves accountable. It works best for us as well. . . . ultimately it works the best for everybody."

We were out of time, but I still had more questions. So I sent Outlaw an email asking why all the cops who have recently been demoted or fired have been white males, which took on the public appearance of a purge. Was she trying to make up for historic inequities by purging the department brass of white males?

"Law enforcement, in general, is a white-male dominated profession," she responded in an email. "Doesn't matter the size of the department. Yes, there are historic, pervasive and systematic inequalities within the policing culture. This almost always comes with a sense of entitlement whenever there is disruption to the status quo."

"You've mentioned some personnel . . . that were either dismissed prior to my arrival and/or were dismissed for behaviors that took place prior to my arrival," she wrote. "You also mentioned a personnel transfer that was not punitive in nature."

"With that said, when disciplining, I focus on behaviors," she wrote. "I don't make up the facts and evidence presented to me for determination. An assertion of there being a purge of white, male commanders [in a majority white department] is absurd. This is evident by recent promotions and other discipline decisions I've made."

"We do a lot of things really well as a department but we tend to be weary of what/who we don't know," she wrote. "We'll do even better when we collectively embrace individual accountability and are open to learning more about differing perspectives and the benefits diversity [all kinds] bring to policing."

Lastly, I asked Outlaw via email why she took a knee with protesters, in apparent violation of department policy directives. Those directives for handling protests say that cops of all ranks "shall maintain complete neutrality and objectivity at all times." And that "under no circumstances should the department be made subservient to any group."

"Humbling ourselves [kneeling] to acknowledge the roles we [police] have had in an, at times, inequitable justice system is an act of solidarity and human kindness and not one of division or politics," Outlaw responded. "The sooner we in law enforcement are willing to listen, learn and understand this, the sooner we will be able to work toward mending the broken relations we have with our communities."

"Also, I didn't find wearing a mask with sorority colors to a Divine 9 [all service organizations] event inappropriate. Alpha Kappa Alpha is an organization dedicated to service to ALL mankind."

And with that last question we were done with the interview. For a police commissioner whom this reporter had previously claimed was treated by the Kenney administration as though she was encased in plastic bubble wrap, hopefully it was the start of a dialogue.

That's more than I can say for Mayor Kenney, who usually hides behind paid mouthpieces when he's toppling statues in the middle of the night, or having the cops guard his girlfriend's house, or drive her back and forth to New Jersey.

It's also better than what I've gotten from District Attorney Larry Krasner, who's been stonewalling me for more than 10 months as he lets one dangerous criminal after another out of jail. And gives everybody a pass in Philly who's caught toting an illegal gun. 

The police commissioner gets credit for showing up. Let's hope it's the start of a trend.


  1. Ralph, your persistent efforts to present a crystalized, honest, and clear view of Today's World is refreshing and appreciated.As a Journalist who has covered Great Stories during the course of your Career, it must be rejuvenating and refreshing to wake up every day with the wit and moxie to challenge and examine issues and personalities that shape and define our World.

    The brilliant portrayal and revelations of City Leaders, Past and Present, should give us time to pause and reflect on the dire state of our Society. There is no more poignant examples, as Kenney versus Rizzo.

    How the Mayor of a City who stood at the Gates to protect the City from Insurrection is now replaced by Kenney who's Mantra is to tear down the Gates and support and let the Marauders in.

    Why else would he seek to remove a Statue of a Man who memorializes a Tradition of Law and Order for the Privileged Class he lived to protect and serve. We should be reminded of the Grand Hypocrisy of Protecting the Crime Families who ran illegal bookmaking operations like his favored Son in Law Joe Mastronardo.

    So now an Outlaw Police Commissioner is playing nice and giving you the Opportunity to kiss her fat black life ass because it matters???

    Outlaw would never have passed her lie detector test when Rizzo was Police Commissioner and she has been a supporter of Black Panthers, rioters and insurrectionists from her upbringing and through the start of her Law Enforcement Career in Oakland.

    So Outlaw ADMITS that she has infiltrated her Crime Family into the Neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Will Internal Affairs or a well funded I- Team survey these activities She and her Peeps dig in, under the same protective blanket that Kenney continues to prosper and enjoy.


  2. Ralph, she says that cops aren't getting the benefit of the doubt from the public, yet it seems they're not getting it from her or the mayor either. Her 'got me for good' statement made me laugh. A lot of MUCH more qualified commissioners have said that and they're gone. She's the flavor of the month. She mentions accountability regarding officers that were disciplined. How about Deputy Commissioner Singleton ORDERING officers to take a knee? Not voluntarily ' humbling' themselves for something that they didn't do? These are questions I'd like answered. I give her points for taking the interview and minus points for doing the old Philadelphia two step in her answers.

  3. When someone in this Administration makes you send in questions via email it means they are scared and afraid to let the person answer themselves. When you sent Outlaw the questions she sent them to Mike Dunn in the Mayor’s office. Dunn circulates the questions among a select group of people including Abernathy. When he gets the answers back he crafts answers which everyone has contributed to and then sends them back to Outlaw and then to you. Kenney isn’t going to let her fail by answering questions to which she doesn’t know the answers.

    As far as whether she violated policy by kneeling in support of the protestors, there is no doubt she did. Ask her another question. Is it now permitted for officers to show their support for causes they believe in while they are on duty? For example, can officers take a knee during a pro life demonstration? Can they wear ribbons or other symbols of support for various causes they might be assigned to while working?

    I knew she didn’t have a clue when she changed the policy on nail polish without asking anyone why it existed at all. Here’s why. Officers will start with different colors. Then some will paint their nails with garish colors. Then each nail will have a different color. Then there will be symbols or other writing on each nail. Some cops who already look like slobs and totally unprofessional will look more so. If you give some cops an inch they will soon take a mile. That’s why Commissioner!

    The incident on I-676 is minutes from her office. She had plenty of time to get there and take personal charge of the situation. Where was she? When Timoney was the PC during the political convention he was out with the troops on his bicycle while he continued to run the show. We are paying Outlaw over a quarter million a year. It’s easy to be the PC when nothing is happening. A real PC can only be judged when things get tough. Outlaw failed the test and should resign and head back west. Her continued presence is an embarrassment to both the Kenney Administration and every citizen in this city.

  4. Thank you Ralph for your articles. You are the only true voice reporting factual information not focusing on an insane liberal agenda. I wanted to give Outlaw a chance and stuck up for her when the old boys club was angry at female leadership. She completely let me down. The nail polish I gave her a pass as a mistake. Honestly, the policy was ignored for the most part. The lack of leadership is astounding. I-676 apology was the weak response ever!! The kneeling was complete pandering and humiliating for the hard working cops out there. She has completely divided the department on race and that is sad. It is clearly evident when white bosses are now held to standard that bosses of color or not. So many stories of comparison with different discipline it would take pages and pages to cover. She should be on the front line with a helmet and a night stick. Then she may recover some respect. Part of the problem with an outsider. I asked myself what was I thinking trying to give her a chance. I guess I momentarily forgot that the King of pander picked her. That can never be a positive!!

  5. A fair question to be addressed is the Date and Time for the Naming of

    There should be a Proclamation Forthcoming.

    That discussion must be in play now that Kenney's Stinking Rabble of Protected Looters and Rioters have brought this City National Attention and Disgrace once again, as Whiskey Dick's Orchestrated Plan of Civil Disobedience is in full display.

    It's only Street Theatre, nothing to see here, forget about the Citizens trapped in their vehicles on the Highway in fear of assault while Kenney and His Skank Outlaw Commissioner Revel as they Review and grope each other dancing to the New Philly Sound, watching their Protected Mummers Brigade.

    A Preview of the Kenney Endorsed New Years Parade that will March from the Statue of Christopher Columbus at Marconi Plaza, if still standing, to the newly erected Statue of Louis Farrakhan in place of William Penn on top of City Hall.

  6. Anyone remember that famous line from Gone with the Wind when Scarlett visits Atlanta shortly after the Civil War ended? A carpetbagger was promising two newly freed slaves '40 acres and a mule', imminent voting rights and encouraged them to vote for their 'friends'. Their response 'Gee!'. This scenario has been playing out in every major American democratically controlled city since.


Thoughtful commentary welcome. Trolling, harassing, and defaming not welcome. Consistent with 47 U.S.C. 230, we have the right to delete without warning any comments we believe are obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.