She’s ready to hit the ground running!
Pamela Smith got her start in law enforcement in 1998, working for the United States Park Police and serving in field offices in New York, Georgia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., WUSA 9 reports. She served for 24 years in that capacity, climbing the ladder to become a sergeant in 2009 before being appointed Chief of Police for the US Park Police in 2021, making history as the first Black woman to ever hold the title. She went on to serve as Assistant Chief of the Homeland Security Bureau (HSB), overseeing the Special Operations Division and the Joint Strategic & Tactical Analysis Command Center. Smith then served as the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Chief Equity Officer, before most recently being named as the next police chief of the nation’s capital.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Smith’s nomination this week. If confirmed, she will be the first Black woman police chief to lead the city, a historic accomplishment she said she doesn’t take lightly.
“Make no mistake about it: On this day, I am proud, I am humbled and I am excited to work alongside this team…This historic moment is not lost on me. I join a legacy of strong African-American women who lead public safety in the District of Columbia…I am confident that with my experiences, both outside and inside of MPD, I bring a fresh perspective, a different kind of energy, a different level of passion to what I am going to do,” said Smith at a city press conference.
Breaking barriers and blazing a trail! 🌟 Today, @MayorBowser appointed Pamela Smith as the Chief of the DC Metropolitan Police Department, making her the first African American woman to hold this prestigious position. pic.twitter.com/rTeUzVL7XV— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) July 18, 2023
D.C. Council members recently passed emergency legislation aimed at combating violent crime in the city. As of July 17th, there have already been 133 homicides, up 18% from the same time last year, with violent crime up 36% overall in comparison to last year. Crime involving youth is also on the rise, something Smith said she hopes to tackle by “lead[ing] from the front” with “boots on the ground.” She’s looking to formulate an “all government approach” to youth crime that will not only involve city officials but also parents and the impacted communities in an effort to galvanize leaders across the city.
The search for a new police chief began last month after Robert Contee III announced his retirement to take a job with the FBI. A nationwide search ensued, Smith chosen out of a slew of qualified candidates. In her new role, Smith hopes to revitalize the city with new energy and serve as an inspiration for young Black girls everywhere.
“No matter where you come from, no matter the challenges that you face or the adversity that is in your way, if you choose to serve in law enforcement, you become an integral part of any community. I stand here today as someone who as a child, I had no hopes, I had no dreams. They were far beyond my reach. But I believed that all things are possible, and I stand in this place because of what I believe in,” Smith said.
No word yet on when the DC Council will conduct a confirmation hearing for Smith but we are very proud! Congratulations Chief!
Cover photo: Pamela Smith set to make history as first Black woman police chief of Washington, D.C./Photo Courtesy of NBC Universal, Inc.