The Council of the District of Columbia has confirmed Peter Newsham as Washington’s new police chief, voting 12 to 1 to make the veteran the 30th leader of the District’s crime-fighting force since the department was formed at the start of the Civil War, says the Washington Post. Newsham, 52, has been serving as acting chief since Mayor Muriel E. Bowser chose him to fill in for Cathy L. Lanier, who retired in September after serving for nearly a decade. In February, Bowser named Newsham to lead the police force.
Three council members who supported Newsham, including former mayor Vincent C. Gray, expressed reservations. They cited concerns over differing views of policing and the department’s handling of protests, including mass arrests during January’s presidential inauguration. But those council members said they had overcome their initial hesitations. Newsham joined the force in 1989 and quickly rose through the ranks, earning a law degree along the way. His confirmation comes as the city is experiencing a crime drop, particularly in assaults and robberies. Challenges remain in reducing homicides and continuing to engage residents. His five-year contract has an annual salary of $253,817.