Image courtesy of Metropolitan Police Department
By Patrick D. Lewis
The District of Columbia Council unanimously confirmed Pamela A. Smith as the new Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on November 7, 2023. Smith had been Acting Chief since her nomination for the position by Mayor Muriel Bowser in July of this year.
Before her time at MPD, Smith served in the United States Park Police for 24 years. This job included assignments in patrol, canine, bomb squad, and as an instructor and served in San Francisco, New York City, and Washington D.C. She was promoted to Chief of the Park Police in 2021.
Prior to her promotion and confirmation, Smith also served as Assistant Chief over MPD’s Homeland Security Bureau (the unit responsible for tactical and specialized operations) and, before that, as the department’s Chief Equity Officer.
“Today I am honored and humbled to be standing before you as the chief of police,” Smith told the City Council following her confirmation.
Smith told the Council that she plans to engage with the youth among other security measures as a way of preventing crime – according to MPD carjacking statistics, 66% of arrests for motor vehicle theft have been juvenile suspects. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday, declared a public emergency in D.C. to address both juvenile crime and the opioid crisis, which represents a coming to terms with the failure of prior DC Government attempts to deal with juvenile-driven crime. Smith also said that she plans to order officers to patrol more visibly, will consider reorganizing police districts and units, and wants to increase recruitment efforts.
“My everyday focus is to drive crime down across the District of Columbia. One of the first things I do is always look at the data, I try and analyze exactly what’s happening in particular areas across the District of Columbia. I meet with my team to make sure we are providing and putting resources in places where they need to be.”
Smith also explained that keeping DC safe is a communal effort.
“We can not do this work alone, and community involvement and a whole-government approach to these problems we see are very vital,” Smith said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but my promise to the community is we will continue doing that work, to serve and protect our citizens, fostering trust and community relationships, and ensuring the safety of every visitor, business, and resident of the District of Columbia.”
The confirmation also affects CUA and especially the Department of Public Safety, which works closely with MPD.
Kirk McLean, Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Emergency Management and Chief of the Department of Public Safety at Catholic University, said, “The confirmation of Chief Pamela A. Smith is timely. I will continue to put my best foot forward in partnering with Chief Smith and her command staff as we collectively work to keep the Catholic University community safe.”
Chief Smith’s confirmation comes as crime is still rampant across the District. 152 crimes were reported in MPD statistics from October 14 to November 14 in the three Police Service Areas (405, 502, and 504) that surround campus, including 7 shootings/stabbings, 17 robberies, and 53 motor vehicle thefts, as well as multiple incidents on campus itself.