With the announcement about her pending retirement as the Chief of the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department, the National Capital Region is losing more than an exceptional public safety leader. It is losing one of its biggest, most notable and certainly most resilient game changers. In a city where dysfunction has any number of zip code residences, Cathy Lanier was a stable and steadfast leader the entire region looked towards to know everything was going to be okay. Her presence in front of television cameras, radio microphones, local town halls, and even political or legal hearings conveyed confidence, competence and skill.
While her remarkable 10 years in one of the toughest jobs in the country is not without its critics and imperfections, you don’t just serve three different mayors like she did and not take a moment to marvel at the leadership she has shown to all of us. Her personal story of being a young teenage mother who decided to become a beat cop is impressive enough, but when that same individual demonstrates the skills, competence, and instincts to deal with multiple jurisdictions, intelligence agencies, and an unlimited armada of extraordinary politics and egos from every conceivable corner, how can you not be in awe?
I had the fortune to work with her briefly prior to her becoming DC’s Police Chief when she was doing counterterrorism and intelligence work with members of the law enforcement community for the DC area. It was obvious then that she was a person on the move and could make big things happen, even with less-than-cooperative partners whose egos seemed more prized to them than building effective relationships.
Her move to become the vice president of security for the NFL may be a surprise, but it’s a phenomenally smart move by the leadership of America’s favorite sport. After a decade leading coordination and security efforts for the Nation’s Capital, how could she not be the right person to lead coordination and security efforts for America’s game? It does not take a rerun of the 70s classic film Black Sunday to recognize the exceptional target any of the NFL stadiums and teams have on them.
The NFL has been more than proactive in safeguarding its teams, players, venues and spectators, and I can’t help but think that all of those efforts step up a notch when you bring one of America’s best cops to the NFL beat.
There are a lot of people you like to see move on in their careers for lots of reasons. While I’m sorry to see her leave, I take comfort in the fact that her talents and skills will be used to safeguard a “national” beat in safeguarding the NFL from the range of security risks it has upon it.
Thank you Chief Lanier for making DC a safer, more secure community, and thank you again for stepping into another big job and safeguarding America’s game for years to come.