In a surprise move, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced Aug. 16 that she will become the National Football League’s new senior vice president for security in September. When she steps down in two weeks, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) will appoint an interim successor and launch a nationwide search for the permanent replacement.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is leaving the department to work for the NFL. (Courtesy Photo)

The departure of Lanier to a new job has District residents thinking about her tenure and who her replacement should be. D.C. Council member Kenyon McDuffie (-Ward 5) said he is looking forward to that process. “Given the national focus on community-police relations, it will be important that our next police chief come with a breadth of experience and leadership to continue to move the department forward,” he told the AFRO.

There is widespread speculation in the community on who should succeed Lanier. On NewsChannel 8’s NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt on Aug. 17, Ward 8 community activist Philip Pannell endorsed the department’s Assistant Chief Diane Groomes. “She knows the community well,” Pannell said.

Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kathy Henderson has her choice, too. “I think Assistant Chief Lamar Greene should get the job,” she said. Greene heads the department’s homeland security and special operations divisions. “He has the capability to lead the troops well and he gets along with the citizens.”

Greene is not the only possible candidate getting support. Cinque Culver, the president of the River Terrace Community Association in Ward 7, said he favored Commander David Taylor. “I think Commander David Taylor should be the next chief,” he said. “I don’t know anyone else who could do a better job. He has done a great job at the Sixth District. The Sixth District covers Northeast and Southeast quadrants of the city and is located primarily in Ward 7.

Lanier, a lifelong Washington, D.C. area resident, joined the police force in 1990 and steadily progressed through the ranks until D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty tapped her as the first female police chief in the District’s history in 2007.

Lanier has been a popular figure in the District with a NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll in September 2014 showing a 74 percent approval rating and even with the spike in crime experienced in 2015, {he Daily Caller’s Nov. 18, 2015 edition reported a 61 percent positive rating.

“Cathy Lanier was a good police chief overall,” Culver told the AFRO. “She was very responsive to community leaders and we appreciate her presence at forums and community events. She was a good and compassionate lady.”

Culver admired the way Lanier used data in her crime fighting techniques, often bringing charts, slides, and digital tools in her presentations to the community.

While Lanier has been praised for technological upgrades, improving the police department’s overall public image among District residents and visitors, and taking on tough situations such as 2010 South Capitol Street shootings that left five people dead and nine injured, many of whom were teenagers and September 2013 Navy Yard shootings. Her critics point out her skirting the law and police-union agreements in the implementation of the “All Hands on Deck” procedures that require officers to be on duty for long hours for a few days without any administrative recourse, and her harsh punishments for police personnel whom were deemed not to be in her favor.

D.C. Council member Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) told the AFRO that he wants the next chief “to focus on community policing. We want the next chief to push our officers to do their very best,” he said.