On May 19, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that she has named Ashan M. Benedict as the interim Chief of Police at the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Incumbent Chief Robert J. Contee announced that he was leaving the force to take a role with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last month. His departure is slated for June 3, at which point Benedict will assume the role until a permanent Chief is appointed.
At an April press conference following Contee’s announcement, District officials appeared to downplay the possibility of an interim chief, saying they hoped to have a permanent chief appointed prior to Contee’s departure. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said the District would launch a nationwide search for the next MPD chief.
The Office of Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Lindsey Appiah is leading that search.
At that April press conference, Appiah said the goal was 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 at the conference, it would be as part of the process.
The Mayor’s office has apparently struggled to fill many interim roles with permanent appointees. DC statute forbids funds from the District budget to be used to pay an interim Director who has served in their role for more than 180 days.
Observers such as Dcist’s Martin Austermuhle have noted that Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection (DLCP) Director Shirley Kwan-Hui, appointed Oct. 1, 2022, has been in office for 230 days. It has been 296 days since Dr. Sharon Lewis was appointed Interim Director of DC Health on July 27, 2022.
The same DC Code evidently applies to Benedict’s appointment as Interim Chief.
Benedict has served as the Executive Assistant Chief of Police at MPD since April 2021 when he was appointed by Chief Contee. As the Executive Officer of the MPD, he has been responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the department.
Before joining MPD in 2021, Benedict served at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in several major posts, including as the Special Agent in Charge of the DC Field Division. He was the on-scene Incident Commander for ATF’s deployment at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Benedict lives on the Hill with his family.