Meet Danielle Outlaw, Philadelphia’s First Black Female Commissioner

Danielle Outlaw was the first African American woman to be Portland’s police chief. Now, she’s set to make history in Philadelphia.
Danielle Outlaw was the first African American woman to be Portland’s police chief. Now, she’s set to make history in Philadelphia.
Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer (AP)

The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has finally appointed a sister to run the showand she plans to bring some real law and order to the police department.


Danielle Outlaw is Philadelphia’s first African-American female police commissioner.

The 45-year-old Oakland, Calif. native is a Pepperdine University alum and law enforcement veteran with more than 20 years’ experience under her belt.

She previously served as the police chief of Portland, Ore., becoming the city’s first black to have acted in that role.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced Outlaw’s appointment Monday as the city police department’s new head, noting how he sees a need for change in the division.

“While I have tremendous respect for our officers, the Philadelphia Police Department needs reform,” he said in a statement. “I am appointing Danielle Outlaw because I am convinced she has the conviction, courage, and compassion needed to bring long-overdue reform to the department.”

Illadelphia’s police department has recently been plagued by multiple scandals. including claims of sexual harassment, sexual violence and racismresulting in numerous firings, an arrest and the abrupt resignation of the city’s black police commissioner, Richard Ross.


The mayor promised to support Outlaw in tackling “a host of difficult issues” including racism, gender discrimination and instances of sexual assault within the department.

“These are issues that too often negatively impact womenespecially women of colorwithin the department,” Kenney said. “Commissioner Outlaw will implement reforms with urgency, so that racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination are not tolerated.”


The proud and active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority acknowledged her historic achievement at Philadelphia City Hall on Monday.

“I do not take lightly that I am a first here. I understand what I represent, I understand who opened the doors for me and I understand it’s my obligation to hold the doors open behind me to ensure that we’re not in 2020 still talking about firsts,” she said.


She has her work cut out for her; running a police force of 6,500 officers in Pennsylvania’s most populated city, and the 6th-largest in the country.

Outlaw is expected to assume the position with the Philadelphia Police Department in early February.


Perfect timing for Black History Month.



Lately of the Portland Police Department, where it was believed she was hired mostly for optics.
Teressa Raiford, a local activist said the following:

“She was hired because we had protests focused on black lives,” says Raiford, pointing to the national coverage of Portland’s Black Lives Matter rallies. “The city’s response was to say, ‘We have a black chief of police, so we aren’t racist.’ The representation was important, but she didn’t show up for the Black community.”