Efforts to choose a successor to Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who is leaving next month, are beginning with an early focus on the department’s assistant chiefs, reports the Washington Post. Officials said most of the attention so far has been on selecting an interim leader to take over when Lanier leaves next month to oversee security for the National Football League, ending her nearly decade-long tenure as chief. To fill the position permanently, Mayor Muriel Bowser is inclined to name a chief from within the department, citing a “deep bench” of candidates. She also said she would entertain applicants from elsewhere.
Authorities will not hire a national search firm. The nominee must be confirmed by the D.C. Council. Sgt. Matthew Mahl, chairman of the D.C. police union, said the group has not yet backed a candidate. “We want to see who puts their name in the hat and what kind of candidates we have,” he said. Mahl said the two biggest issues for the rank and file are morale, which he described as low, and the pace of departures of officers and mid- to high-level supervisors. The department has about 3,750 officers, the lowest number in a decade and about 600 below authorized strength. Police officials have blamed a retirement bubble from a hiring surge 25 years ago, but Mahl said the departures include officers quitting well before retirement age. A Bowser administration official said city leaders are concerned that high-ranking police officials could follow Lanier out the door.