By Ngakiya Camara | WURD Radio
WURD was joined by Philadelphia’s Commissioner Danielle Outlaw for a conversation regarding her rise in ranks as well as her intention to reform Philadelphia’s Police Department.
Outlaw emphasizes that, in not coming from a family legacy of policing, she held many of the same stigmas regarding police as most Black communities do. As a sophomore in High School, however, her friend would ‘dare,” her to sign up for a career exploration program which exposed her to the life of police officers responding to calls and complaints throughout California. By the time she got to college, she was already part of the Police Cadet program, part of LAPD’s elaborate plan to, “develop a pipeline,” between students and the policing unit, offering her $10 an hour to be out in the community, volunteer, interact with the police and learn the complex inner workings of the police department there. And while becoming a police officer was never Outlaw’s true intention, becoming a single mother truly changed her perceived trajectory by the end of her college career, and she was encouraged to join the forces by considering medical and financial benefits once she graduated.
Going from working as an officer in Oakland PD, to the first African American woman to hold the Chief of Portland office, and now being Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner, Outlaw has learned so much from her long standing career, but admits that she is still learning everyday. Admitting that the civil unrest of 2020 and the rise in police distrust was one of those crucial teaching moments for her, Outlaw stresses that her job is to continue community outreach as well as to, “reform,” long-standing policies which threaten the safety of our community.
Not only has the department, “pledged a commitment to [their] reform,” by getting rid of no-knock warrants, ending choke-hold policies, and rolling out early-intervention systems even before George Floyd’s murder, but Outlaw states that the Philadelphia Police Department strives to move forward in 2021, “with renewed purpose and intention,” in mending, “misconnections,” or overall total distrust for police in the Philadelphia community.
Claiming police to be much more than law enforcement officers, but, “psychologists, social workers, sociologists, counselors, therapists, teachers, mentors,” and more, Outlaw hopes that police will soon gain the actual interpersonal skills to manage all of these jobs and thus reinstill any faith into the system.
Listen to the interview below: