“Mayor Bowser Names Peter Newsham as Interim Police Chief”

by Prince Of Petworth August 23, 2016 at 10:07 am 22 Comments

via MPD Bio

From the Mayor’s Office:

“Today, Mayor Bowser announces that a longtime deputy to Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier, Peter Newsham, will fill the position she is vacating on an interim basis effective September 17, 2016. Mr. Newsham joined MPD in 1989 and has served as Assistant Chief of Police since 2002.

“Like Chief Lanier, Peter has deep roots serving the District and believes in the power of building relationships with communities as the best way to deter and solve crime,” said Mayor Bowser. “He has served the people of the District of Columbia for almost three decades and in that time has demonstrated his unwavering commitment to the District and to its residents. He is experienced, smart, compassionate, and most importantly, he knows what it means to walk a beat, to manage a team, and to serve the residents of the District of Columbia. I have known him for more than a decade; he is a police officer of the highest caliber and is extremely qualified to serve as the Interim Chief of Police while we conduct the search for a permanent replacement.”

Newsham has served as Assistant Chief at MPD for 14 years and currently heads the Investigative Services Bureau, which is responsible for investigating violent, property, sexual assault, and narcotic crimes. He previously oversaw MPD’s internal affairs and disciplinary review offices for four years. He also oversaw the northern regional command for three years, which included the Second, Third, and Fourth police districts. Newsham has a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law and is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

A search for internal and external candidates to fill the position permanently has already begun and a job announcement will be published in the coming days. After winnowing the list of qualified candidates, a small group of community stakeholders will be involved in vetting final candidates.”

  • Thunder

    This is a bad sign for serious crime fighting.

    • Kingman Park

      Please elaborate

    • Anon


    • ExWalbridgeGuy

      Who would you prefer serve as interim police chief during a search?

    • ET

      It is common in police, fire, and all sorts of companies and agencies that a ranking executive runs things temporarily until a permanent head can be found. I don’t know that it says anything about how well/bad the process to find a new one will go.

    • Kingman Park

      I guess we’re supposed to take your opinion as fact.

  • Anon

    I’d love to hear what the Anon MPDs think about this. I’m guessing this is just a stop-gap move for the moment?

    • textdoc

      Also, can the readers from MPD refresh our memory as to what it was they didn’t like about Chief Lanier (and which someone was saying the other day was true of the rest of the top brass)? I know the All Hands on Deck days were part of it, but I don’t remember what the other reasons were.

      • Anon

        Abolishing the Vice squads was definitely up there in terms of grievances.

        • Anon

          Keep in mind that the primary people who were objecting to the centralization of the vice squads were the members who wanted to keep operating with less oversight, and were not selected for the centralized units.

      • Annon MPD (2)

        AHODS, pay(COP was a big decider when she testified against us in the arbitration hearing) schedule, changing days off, restricting vacation time, always being scared of being terminated and or other forms of punishment when people “they” (brass) like does the same thing and nothing happens. That’s what I could think of quickly. I’m sure I can think of more.

        • textdoc

          What does “COP” mean here — Chief of Police? So what you’re saying is that Lanier’s testimony at the arbitration hearing carried a lot of weight because of her being Chief of Police?
          (What was the arbitration hearing about?)

        • stacksp

          “Pay, schedule, changing days off, restricting vacation time, always being scared of being terminated and or other forms of punishment when people “they” (brass) like does the same thing and nothing happens.”

          Any industry can almost uses these same factors as to why they do not like their boss. Not to say that they are not valid but they are not unique to being a cop. I would be interested from a pure police strategist perspective what fellow officers did not like about her. People assume that the disbandment of the Vice squads was some great divider but I wonder if that is purely a citizen gripe or if actual officers agree with this sentiment as well

          • textdoc

            This is a good point/good question. Annon MPD (2), Anon MPD, Detective Friendly, and any other MPD readers — can you answer?

    • Anon MPD

      Periods with interim leaders can be really challenging for an organization. Police — in general and in DC specifically — are already facing a lot of challenges; we don’t need any more. Newsham has the experience and temperament to keep things running well while the decision on the next chief is made. Plus, I trust him if an emergency hits.

      • wdc

        Do you trust him to be the next chief? Should *I* trust him? Is he a politician in a police uniform, or is he willing to be unpopular to get things done?

      • Trinidaddy

        Question – as a cop, would you prefer him or Contee as the next chief?

        • Former Shaw

          I have dealt with Newsham a ton back when he was at the District level – he had Shaw for awhile while I was living there. He is no bullshit and extremely professional, I got the sense that the rank and file MPD like him. I will admit that this worries me as usually when someone is interim it does not bode well for them as a permanent replacement candidate, hopefully this will be the exception and not the rule. Truthfully the folks named in the Post article last week named a few good replacement candidates – Newsham, Groomes and Contee all seem like good people and usually have been responsive (Contee interaction for me has been minimal but seems like a good guy). Only one I had heard anything really negative on was the Internal Affairs head and it was that they were too new to MPD…nothing damning by any means. One thing Lanier seems to have done well is get respected cops into many of the big leadership slots in the MPD as a result there are a few great potential candidates. All in all it will be hard for Muriel to “screw the poodle” on this choice but considering some of the pre-Lanier choices I leave nothing as impossible.

  • CarlosPSA403

    I’ve known Peter Newsham from a distance over the years. However, he’s always been responsive to my concerns the few times I’ve emailed him. He comes across as been smart and a professional. I’ve always known he has a law degree from the University of Maryland. I don’t know what his law degree specializes in, but his having a law degree is a plus. I will support this guy Interim Police Chief, and if Mayor Bowser selects him as the COP, he have my support. Some people shouldn’t be hung up on the next police chief’s skin color or race. As someone who’s been involved in public safety in my D.C. neighborhood for 25 years, I want to see someone with excellent social skills keeping a line of communication with the citizenry in the District of Columbia. Also, the next COP should maintain a positive relationship with the police union and the rank and file by improving the morale within the Metropolitan Police Department. I don’t know anything about Assistant Police Chief Contee. I don’t know if Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes would want the job as COP. In my opinion, she looks tired and ready to retire and go off into the sunset to relax from the stress of working in law enforcement for many years.

  • Annon MPD (2)

    I don’t know chief Newcham but I have heard great things about him from co-workers. But, if he or any of the other candidates for the top job have their heads in the clouds like Chief Lanier did, nothing will change. People will still leave, we will still be way below staffing, and moral won’t go up. It will go further down because we (rank and file) will believe the city didn’t look at what we would like, again. My worry is that any of the Chiefs up for the job from MPD will have their heads in the cloud just like Lanier because they worked for her. But hopefully I’ll be proven wrong.

  • Hokielion

    I don’t know him, but this is a big job, and I wish him well. Perhaps he’ll be more responsive to residents’ requests to help with vandalism, loitering, theft, etc. Get this stuff before things escalate into bigger problems. Help us to feel safe in our neighborhoods. Go after repeat offenders and those with outstanding warrants. I believe more can be done.

    • Anon

      Loitering is a constitutionally protected activity. There is no way for police in DC to go after it.

      MPD is very focused on repeat violent offenders and those with outstanding warrants. However, once they are arrested, the court puts all but the most violent offenders back on the street pending trial. Last fall, MPD proposed legislation to ensure that if someone had a prior conviction for a crime of violence (which are enumerated in the DC Code), and was arrested for another violent crime, the judge would have to presume that the arrestee was violent and should be detained pending trial. The arrestee’s lawyer — usually from the Public Defenders Service (which is very strong in DC) — could present facts to rebut this presumption (hence the short hand name of a rebuttable presumption) to argue that the judge should release him or her pending trial.

      This very common sense measure was rejected by CM McDuffie, and instead a measure to pay at-risk individuals (i.e., those that have already committed crimes) a stipend to not commit more crimes was passed. Given that there is so little support for protecting our communities from repeat violent offenders, what makes you think there is any support in the Council or the criminal justice system for going after individuals who repeatedly commit property crimes or disorder crimes?


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