PHILADELPHIA — The first black woman named to lead Philadelphia’s troubled police department pledged to be a “conduit” between the community and police and to address the racist and sexist tensions dividing the force.
Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney named Portland, Oregon Chief Danielle Outlaw to the job on Monday, four months after the last commissioner resigned abruptly in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Recent lawsuits have accused department brass of ignoring complaints that female officers were being sexually harassed by colleagues and supervisors and making it difficult for them to keep nursing when they return from maternity leave.
“My sons are 21 and 18. I understand the fear that’s out there in our communities of the police. I understand the mistrust. I understand also, on the other side, why we do what we do in law enforcement,” Outlaw said at an afternoon press conference at Philadelphia City Hall.
“If I have to be the conduit, I’ll be the conduit,” she said.
About 22% of the city’s 6,500 officers are female, as is more than half of the city’s population.