DC POLICE CHIEF CATHY LANIER

WHY WE LOVE HER AND WHY SHE'S EFFECTIVE



A mother grieving over Thursday's death of her son, Amari Jenkins, fatally shot on the front lawn of St. Luke Roman Catholic Church on East Capitol Street in Southeast, is comforted by D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. 

This photograph and caption appeared in Thursday's edition of the Washington Post and pretty much illustrates why our police chief is admired by all of us.   This is how she operates.  But don't let the fact that she is shown comforting Ms. Jenkins over the death of her son fool you.  Chief Lanier is also an effective officer and administrator and much respected by her fellow D.C. police officers. 

I've attended a few community meetings where the Chief has spoken and I've been impressed with her forthrightness, blunt honesty and her ability to charm the pants off folks when she needs to.  She understands what the term "Community Policing" means, not just a catchy phrase, but an attitude and approach to policing that puts the safety and well-being of the community first ahead of politics and internal differences.  

Illustrative of how she tackles her duties was her performance during the Navy Yard crisis back in 2013 when Aaron Alexis killed twelve people at the historic Naval Facility about a mile from my house.  Watching the local and national news media that day, no one really knew what was going on, how many people were involved, where the perpetrators were despite the presence of at least a dozen Federal and local law enforcement agencies.  


Lanier Talking to Press During Navy Yard Crisis
The national press turned to Lanier who calmly informed the public about what the situation was, including the fact that no one really knew what the hell was going on and the trouble all the agencies were having in communicating with one another.  She was honest, forthright and pulled no punches.  She also has a habit of not suffering press fools who ask unanswerable or dumb questions.   

Recall, if you will, the words and actions of Ferguson, MO, Police Chief, Thomas Jackson, during his press conference the day Michael Brown was shot and left lying in the middle of the street.  It was an exercise in obfuscation and stonewalling.  But then, he was very efficient when it came to showing us the video of Brown in the convenience store that caused the Ferguson mess.  I remember thinking that it was too bad that Ferguson didn't have a Police Chief like ours.

Chief Lanier apparently does not believe that showing human kindness undermines her authority.  Maybe she knows that being tough on crime isn't incompatible with human compassion and understanding.  How many police chiefs around the country need to learn this lesson?  






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