Mayor Bowser names interim DC police chief to replace Contee

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has named Ashan M. Benedict as interim D.C. police chief Friday, replacing the departing Robert Contee.

Benedict will serve as interim chief while Bowser will conduct a search for someone to fill the position permanently.

“I know that he is going to do a fine job in making sure that we’re deploying our men and women on keeping the District safe while the interim search is ongoing,” Bowser said at a news conference, after wrapping up an interview with WAMU about public safety.

Benedict has been with the police department as assistant chief of police to Contee since April 2021, managing the day-to-day operations of the department, Bowser said in a news release.

“I think it’s important to bring some stability and consistency to department operations,” Benedict said, adding that he doesn’t want the job permanently.

For the permanent role, Bowser said she’s looking for someone who is a “leader and crime fighter.”

Benedict previously worked at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in a number of major posts such as the special agent in charge at the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

At ATF, he investigated gun violence, drug trafficking and violent crime.

Benedict was part of the ATF’s response to a number of events such as the Sept. 11 attacks at the Pentagon in 2001, the Beltway Sniper investigation and the Navy Yard active shooter, the release said.

Additionally, he was the on-scene incident commander in response to the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021.

Benedict has a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Fordham University and a Master of Arts degree from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School in D.C., the release said.

Contee had been leading D.C. police since late 2020 and announced his retirement from the force in April to join the FBI. His last day with D.C. police is June 3.

WTOP’s Cheyenne Corin contributed to this story.

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Tadiwos Abedje

Tadi Abedje is a freelance digital writer/editor for WTOP. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Northern Virginia. Journalism has been his No. 1 passion since he was a kid and he is blessed to be around people, telling their stories and sharing them with the world.

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