Bowser says DC councilman who asked her to fire police chief is ‘lame duck’

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser used the term “lame duck” Thursday as she brushed off a councilmember’s call for her to fire the District’s police chief.

Councilmember David Grosso, who is not running for reelection this year, said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham should be removed from his post because he thinks Newsham has a pattern of unfairly cracking down on protesters, not striving to find ways to better serve the Black community and lashing out at council members when something goes wrong for him.

“Chief Newsham has regularly engaged in an adversarial, rather than collaborative, relationship with the council,” Grosso said.

Bowser was asked about Grosso’s comments, and she said she stands by the chief.

“He’s leaving the council,” Bowser said of Grosso. “He has a few more months, and I wouldn’t want to see him use this lame duck period to make the District less safe.”

Newsham responded by implying that Grosso has been narrow-minded in dealing with the police department.

“Councilmember Grosso has often said that he wants to work collaboratively,” Newsham said. “I guess his idea of collaboration is he only wants to collaborate with people who think like him.”

In calling for Newsham’s firing, Grosso said there was “credible evidence” that Newsham “has not been truthful” about D.C. police being involved in the June 1 chemical-aided clearing of protesters at Lafayette Square.

Newsham has repeatedly denied that his department was involved, but the ACLU claims otherwise and is suing the department over the incident.

Tensions have been growing between Bowser’s administration and the council over the council’s recent efforts to slash the police department’s budget, which Bowser said would make the District less safe.

The council voted this week to pass a D.C. budget that includes a $15 million cut from the police. The vote was the first of two required votes before the budget is formally approved.

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Nick Iannelli

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