The D.C. Council nearly unanimously confirmed Peter Newsham as the permanent chief of the Metropolitan Police Department Tuesday.
The Council voted 12 to 1 in favor of Newsham, who has been serving as interim police chief since last September. At-large Council member David Grosso was the only council member to oppose the measure.
Council members said they backed Newsham because of his long-term experience in the department and his transparency in dealing with the Council, but some said they had reservations about how he handled arrests during protests on Inauguration Day.
Ward 8 Council member Trayon White, said he voted to confirm Newsham because he has been responsive to the Council’s suggestions and concerns about MPD.
White said he grew up in D.C. and did not always have positive interactions with city police, but he was satisfied with how Newsham handled situations as interim chief.
“After the hearing I started to sit down and try to figure out Chief Newsham’s philosophy of policing and I can say that I am satisfied with all his answers,” he said. “In those couple of weeks, I had to call him on numerous occasions about issues in our community, and he’s been nothing but responsive, and that’s what we need.”
Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans said he supported the confirmation because Newsham had a wealth of experience in MPD and he was accessible to the public during his tenure as commander of the Second District.
“Promoting from within is always my first selection,” he said. “Promoting from within the department gives others the notion that they can aspire to get to a higher position.”
Grosso, who voted against the confirmation, said he is committed to working with Newsham, but said he wanted a police chief who supports community leaders that promote public safety within their neighborhoods.
“I want a cop who is a visionary and can think outside the box,” he said. “I do vote no today because I do not see that.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser nominated Newsham, who had been serving as interim chief, to become the permanent police chief in February. He has led the department since last September after former Police Chief Cathy Lanier’s left the department to become the head of NFL’s security.
Since he was nominated, the D.C. Council has held three hearings on Newsham’s confirmation before Tuesday’s vote.
Newsham has served in the department for 27 years, working for 14 years as the assistant police chief under Lanier. He also served as a commander of the Second District – which includes Foggy Bottom, the assistant chief of the Office of Professional Responsibility and the assistant chief in charge of ROC-North, according to MPD’s website.
As interim police chief, Newsham oversaw the reorganization of officer patrol areas into sectors to improve community relations and has vowed to add 360 more officers to the department by the end of this year.
Ava Gondeck contributed reporting.