WASHINGTON — The chief of DC Police is leaving his post after more than three years in the position to become the police chief of another local department in Virginia. Peter Newsham will become the Prince William County chief of police in February 2021, according to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.
“We are happy to welcome Chief Newsham to Prince William County and the level of expertise he brings to the position," Prince William County Executive Chris Martino said.
Newsham is replacing Prince William County's former chief, Barry Barnard, who retired July 1.
According to a press release, Prince William County received 50 applications from 16 states and Washington, D.C.
"Chief Newsham distinguished himself throughout the intensive recruitment process," the press release said.
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.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has always stood behind Newsham and named him chief in 2017, released a short statement Tuesday following the announcement.
"We thank Chief Newsham for 31 years of service to the residents of the District of Columbia," Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement. "During his time as Chief, he led the department through a time of great change and challenge for our city and our nation, and we appreciate his distinguished service to the District. An interim Chief will be announced soon."
Chief Newsham has faced increasing 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.
"I have not supported this chief in that role for some time now and I kind of weirdly felt bad for the people in Prince William County, because I know his leadership style is not going to serve them well," Grosso said Tuesday after the announcement of Newsham's new job. "He has led a police force that has divided our city more than it has united our city."
Chairman of the DC Council Phil Mendelson said he saw Newsham's exit as an opportunity for the District.
“I am as surprised as everyone else at the news of Police Chief Newsham’s decision to leave MPD,” Mendelson said. “I am sorry to see him leave, yet this presents an opportunity to try new approaches to law enforcement and new strategies to fight violent crime. We’re losing a good cop, but sometimes a fresh face can be a good, too."
Mendelson said the Council would work with the mayor to find Newsham's replacement.
Newsham holds a bachelor's degree from the College of the Holy Cross and a law degree at the University of Maryland School of Law. He is a member of the Maryland Bar.
"The DC Police Union wishes Chief Newsham the best in his new role as Chief of PWC Police," DC Police Union Chairman Gregg Pemberton said in a statement. "Chief Newsham has led a storied and decorated career serving the District of Columbia and its residents for over 30 years. His contributions to the MPD will not be soon forgotten."
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