Acting police chief’s nomination unanimously approved by DC Council’s public safety committee

Acting police Chief Pamela Smith’s nomination to become the permanent leader of the District’s police force has been approved by a key D.C. Council committee. The nomination now heads for a final vote by the entire council next month.

The Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety on Tuesday unanimously voted to approve Smith’s nomination for the position.

Before calling the committee to a vote, Ward 2 Council Member Brooke Pinto reflected on how the police department is at a “turning point,” and comes at a “critical time for the department and the District.

“As we face a significant increase in both violent crime and property crime and MPD simultaneously suffers a hiring and retention crisis. Our communities are crying out for help, for more police, more security, more opportunities and more accountability.”

Referring to the fact that the District surpassed 200 homicides in 2023 last month, Pinto said “the new chief must be ready to confront the issue of violent crime head-on, while remembering to comfort the family and friends of these victims.”

Pinto concluded that she believes Smith “has the ability, the experience, the temperament and the commitment that is necessary to do this work and lead this department successfully.”

Pinto later into confirmed in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that the full council vote to approve Smith’s nomination is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Smith made a case for her confirmation in front of the committee on Sept. 27, discussing rising crime numbers and her priorities for the department.

The acting police chief boasts more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement across the country, much of it with the Park Police, where she started in 1998 as a patrol officer and rose through the ranks before being appointed as chief of police in February 2021.

Smith left the agency in April 2022 and joined the D.C. police department as chief equity officer, later becoming an assistant chief in charge of homeland security.

Bowser swore in Smith as the Metropolitan Police Department’s acting chief in July before nominating her to lead the city’s police force. If confirmed by the D.C. Council as Robert Contee’s successor, Smith would be the second woman and the first Black woman to permanently run the agency since its founding in 1861.

Emily Venezky

Emily Venezky is a digital writer/editor at WTOP. Emily grew up listening to and reading local news in Los Angeles, and she’s excited to cover stories in her chosen home of the DMV. She recently graduated from The George Washington University, where she studied political science and journalism.

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