Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw took a clear opportunity Wednesday to squash a surging rumor that she would soon be resigning her Philadelphia post and packing her bags to become the new top cop in New York City.
As Philly’s biweekly virtual gun violence briefing was winding down, Outlaw answered a direct question about her possible departure, saying, “It’s a rumor that’s just out there, and it’s wild and it’s out of control.”
Outlaw is reportedly on New York Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ short list to lead the New York Police Department. Though she denied speculation that she would be announcing her resignation today at 3 p.m., Outlaw’s words did not do much to close the door on a future move.
“I appreciate the honorable mention — and it’s quite flattering, quite frankly. But I will tell you, I am still continuing to focus on my work here. And obviously, if I had information to share, I would share it, but I’ll leave it at that. Their process is their process, and for any additional information, I think folks need to reach out to the folks in New York,” Outlaw said.
When asked if she had interviewed for the position in New York, Outlaw declined to comment, citing a respect for the NYPD’s process.
WHYY News reached out to the NYPD for comment on whether Outlaw had been chosen to lead its force, but was subsequently referred to Adams’ spokesperson, who did not immediately respond.
If Outlaw chooses to leave Philadelphia, her tenure as the first woman of color to serve as police commissioner will have been short. Her first day was Feb. 10, 2020 — just one month before Philadelphia reported its first positive case of COVID-19.
Outlaw came here by way of Portland, Oregon, and was hired to replace former Commissioner Richard Ross, who stepped down after facing a federal lawsuit accusing him of having an affair with a subordinate and not acting when she complained about sexual harassment she experienced at the hands of another officer.
Since then, Outlaw has become a polarizing figure in Philadelphia, and faced calls to resign for her handling of the summer 2020 protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis. Under her supervision, protesters on I-676 as well as those marching in West Philadelphia were tear-gassed.
Now, Philadelphia is confronting worsening gun violence that has taken more than 500 lives this year alone.
If she decides to leave, we’ll hear it from her, Outlaw said.
“Honestly, if I had something to share with you, I promise you I would. I don’t have anything to share with the public,” she said.
Saturdays just got more interesting.