Nov 22, 2023 - News

Meet Philadelphia's new police commissioner

Kevin Bethel

Kevin Bethel. Photo: Courtesy of the Philadelphia School District

Kevin Bethel is expected to be named Philadelphia police commissioner at a news conference Wednesday, according to reports.

Why it matters: It's Mayor-elect Cherelle Parker's first appointment since winning the general election earlier this month.

Driving the news: Bethel, a former city police deputy commissioner, takes over the nation's fourth-largest police department as it struggles with staffing shortages while also trying to contain a sweeping gun violence epidemic.

  • Parker will officially introduce Bethel on Wednesday. The move comes after she considered several candidates, including interim police commissioner John Stanford, per the Inquirer.

Zoom in: Bethel served as chief of school safety for the School District of Philadelphia, where he focused on implementing a data-driven approach to youth gun violence and diversion programs that reduced the number of students arrested for offenses committed at school.

  • Before that, he spent decades rising through Philadelphia's police department and served as former commissioner Charles Ramsey's right-hand man.

What they're saying: Parker's camp declined to comment to Axios. She previously said that she wanted someone in the role who knew their way around the city and had the support of rank-and-file officers, per the Inquirer.

  • Parker pledged during her campaign to hire hundreds of cops and embrace tougher police tactics, such as stop-and-frisk and possibly deploying the National Guard in Kensington.

Plus: The city school district declined to comment about who would replace Bethel, as Parker hasn't officially announced her choice yet.

Flashback: The incoming mayor was always expected to tap a new top cop. However, the position opened in September after Danielle Outlaw abruptly resigned to take a job with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

  • Stanford has served as interim police commissioner since then, navigating the department through difficult circumstances, including the killing of a police officer at the Philadelphia International Airport in October.

What we're watching: Bethel must work with a new police union president to rebuild any strained relationships with the rank-and-file.

  • It remains to be seen how his commitment to restorative justice will influence his leadership of the police department.

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