Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier will resign next month to take over as head of security for the National Football League, ending her 26-year career on the force, the last decade as its first permanent female leader, the Washington Post reports.
Lanier, 49, who rose from the patrol ranks, had an unusually long tenure heading a major police force. She said the unique job opportunity in professional sports prompted her decision. “She’s built a fantastic force, professionalized the force, built a force that the community trusts which is going to be a lasting legacy,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Bowser will name an interim chief and begin a search for a new leader of the 3,700-member department, which has shrunk in size over the past several years. Lanier headed a big city police department far longer than most other chiefs, whose typical tenure is three to four years.
“This is the nation’s capital,” Lanier said. “What’s more important than being responsible for public safety and security than the nation’s capital? Where do you go from here right? When I thought about the NFL, it’s America’s favorite sport and what’s more important than making sure America’s favorite sport is safe?” Supporters say Lanier’s connection with the community helped Washington avoid the turmoil that has embroiled policing in the past few years, including in nearby Baltimore and most recently Milwaukee, where deaths in police custody and shootings by officers have led to unrest. She has frequently clashed with the police union, which complained she had a harsh management style that drove off many rank-and-file officers. Some of her crime-fighting tactics, such as erecting roadblocks in high-crime areas, came under fire.