Washington, D.C., Police Chief Peter Newsham is leaving the force to take over the police department in Prince William County, Va., ending a three-decade career in law enforcement in the capital, reports the Washington Post. His departure from one of the nation’s most visible law enforcement posts comes as homicides escalate and Newsham finds himself increasingly at odds with the D.C. Council on how to negotiate changes in policing amid a reckoning over race and social justice. Newsham said he looked forward to a new challenge. “After 31 years, it’s time for a change, and I saw the opportunity in Prince William,” he said. “It’s a county that’s growing, a county that needs good policing.”
“Given all of the turbulence around policing in America, I think this presents an opportunity for MPD to develop new strategies … to help build greater community confidence,” council chairman Phil Mendelson said. Tensions between Newsham and the liberal D.C. Council worsened in the aftermath of demonstrations drawing thousands to Washington after George Floyd’s death. The council approved $15 million in cuts to the police department, a modest trim compared with the steep cuts sought by activists — but one opposed by the mayor, who said it would jeopardize public safety. Council member Trayon White Sr., who has sparred with Newsham, said, “I don’t see no one crying about Newsham leaving.” Newsham said he felt like he has accomplished what he set out to do, and he emphasized that criticism from the council and the public did not factor into his decision.