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DC Mayor picks 31-year veteran, Robert J. Contee, to become city's next police chief

This comes after the announcement of the departure of current D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham.

WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser officially nominated 31-year police veteran, Robert J. Contee, as the city's new police chief on Tuesday during a news conference.

According to the Washington Post, Contee is a native Washingtonian and grew up in Northeast D.C. He joined the force as a cadet while still in high school and has been with the department since. 

During a news conference Tuesday, Contee shared how his background shaped his leadership and determination to serve the community he has spent decades working for. As the child of two parents who battled cerebral palsy in a drug and violence-stricken D.C. neighborhood, he said his experiences growing up in the District have embedded perseverance, humbleness, and hard work in everything that he does.

"In all that I do, I aim to do it in the spirit of excellence," Contee said.

Contee said his goal is to ensure that members of the department show compassion for the people they serve while prioritizing a laser focus on crime in the community. He also said under his leadership the department will work on inclusive strategies and focus on community engagement.

"In our city, there is much work to be done," Contee said. "We will keep trying until we will get it right."

This comes after the announcement of the departure of current D.C. Police Chief Newsham. He is set to leave the Metropolitan Police Department and become the Prince William County chief of police in February 2021 after serving the District for more than three years, according to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. 

Newsham will be replacing Prince William County's former chief, Barry Barnard, who retired July 1. 

Newsham has been a part of the police department since 1989 and was sworn in as chief of police in 2017 after Chief Cathy Lanier retired. Prior to that, he had served as the assistant chief of police since 2002.

Chief Newsham has faced increased pressure from the DC council over the past year, with some members taking issue with his handling of deadly police shootings, the recent protests and a murder rate that's increased every year during his tenure. 

Outgoing Councilmember David Grosso penned a letter to Bowser over the summer calling for Newsham's resignation. Chairman of the DC Council Phil Mendelson said he saw Newsham's exit as an opportunity for the District. 

Bowser said she made the decision to look within the police department to appoint someone to assume the role of police chief even though she made efforts to do a nationwide search. She said she did not interview other candidates for this position. 

She said her focus was to find solid and steady leadership and to not prolong a human resources process. 

Contee is expected to take over Police Chief Peter Newsham's position as Acting Police-Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in January until confirmation by the D.C. Council, the Post said.

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