Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Robert Contee said it has been his highest honor to serve as the Chief of Police.
Contee announced late Wednesday his appointment to serve the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and his subsequent resignation from MPD.
At a press conference Thursday, Contee expressed excitement about his new role with the FBI, but promised to continue to “lead the fight” against crime in the city through his last day on June 3, 2023.
“I have decided after serving this agency for over 30 years that it is time to retire from the Metropolitan Police Department,” Contee said. “It has been my greatest honor to serve as your chief of police since January 2, 2021.”
Contee acknowledged that violent crime and homicides are up versus the same point last year. But Contee said that he is confident those numbers can go down. He cited a decrease in overall crime at the end of 2022, including a 10 percent reducton in homicides, 7 percent reduction in violent crime and a 4 percent reduction in overall crime from about this point in 2022 to year’s end.
Asked when he had been approached by the FBI, Contee said that he had become used to peopel approaching him with job offers. “Someone’s always trying to recruit you,” Contee said. Contee said that the approach from the FBI came up over the last few months. He had a conversation with the Mayor about it, he said, and informed her that he had accepted on Monday.
Director Christopher Wray has appointed Contee to serve as the Assistant Director of the Office of Partner Engagement for the agency where he will work to support local, state and federal agencies across the nation.
Contee referenced his struggles with other parts of the justice system when he was asked if anything would gnaw at him after his departure. “I think that s a city as a community we have to come together about what’s acceptable and what’s not,” Contee said, “in terms of holding people accountable for things that they do in our communities that make our communities less safe.”
But those frustrations didn’t weigh into the decision, Contee said. “I’m a fighter,” he said, “you’re going to have to do more than that to run me out of here,” he said, adding that he hoped he had helped to push the envelope to change the system.
Contee said he had invested in the MPD team and that there are people within the ranks who might rise to the position of Chief. “I’m sure you’ve got some very likely candidates that are standing behind me that the Mayor will strongly conside,” Contee said.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced Thursday in a press conference that the District will launch a nationwide search for the next MPD chief. She thanked Contee for more than three decades of leadership and service in the department.
“Since his first week on the job, and over the past 33 years, he has been making Washington, DC incredibly proud,” Bowser said. “…On behalf of our city, I want to congratulate Chief Contee on his retirement and thank him for his service to DC; for leading MPD with passion and purpose.”
Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Lindsey Appiah will lead the search. She said the goal is to have an expedited search that will put a permanent MPD Chief in place by the time of Contee’s departure. If there is a need for an interim chief, she said, it will be part of the process.
Bowser expressed confidence that Contee’s legacy will continue to serve the District throughout this upcoming time of transition.
“We know that the Chief has a motto: Excellence is transferable. And we know he will leave behind a team of leaders and officers ready to continue serving DC at the highest levels.”
Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.