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DC Police Chief Contee to 'retire' from department, takes FBI job

Contee says his last day will be June 3.

WASHINGTON — D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III is leaving the Metropolitan Police Department to join the FBI. 

Contee is well-liked in the department, and the news came as a surprise to many.

Contee, a D.C. native, joined the department in 1989 as a cadet and was a sworn member of the force three years later. In December 2020, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser nominated Contee for the role as chief. He took over just days before the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. 

At the time, 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. 

Contee said that his last day will be June 3.

"Director Christopher Wray of the FBI has appointed me as assistant director of the FBI, and I will be moving on to a new opportunity that I'm very excited about," Contee said in a video statement. "In this new opportunity, I will have the privilege of working with law enforcement agencies all across our nation as the assistant director of the Office of Partner Engagement where my responsibility will be to ensure that the FBI is fully supporting local and state and federal agencies all across our nation."

>Contee released a video announcement about his decision to leave:

Mayor Bowser's office released the following statement after WUSA9 reported Contee's departure:

Chief Contee was sworn in four days before January 6, 2021. Since his first week on the job, and over the past 33 years, he has been making Washington, DC incredibly proud. He’s a son of DC who grew up in Carver Langston, joined the Metropolitan Police Department as a cadet at 17 years old, and now he’s ready for his next chapter. On behalf of our city, I want to congratulate Chief Contee on his retirement and thank him for his service to DC — for leading MPD with passion and purpose. He has pushed our criminal justice system to do more and be better. He has led MPD through an incredibly challenging time for our country – from the pandemic to January 6th and navigating the effects of a shrinking department during a time when gun violence is exploding across the nation. He has been a phenomenal ambassador of what it means to be a police officer in DC – brilliant, compassionate, and determined to build a DC where all people feel safe and are safe.

“We know that the Chief has a motto: Excellence is transferable. And we know he will leave behind a team of leaders and officers ready to continue serving DC at the highest levels.”

There is no word yet on who will lead the department in the interim. Bowser and Contee are expected to appear together at a press conference Thursday. 

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Robert Contee joined MPD in 1989, when he was still a senior in high school. He's been with the department ever since. Now, as D.C.'s acting police chief, he's ready to be a different kind of leader to start tackling the District's increasing crime rates. (Published in 2021)

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