D.C.’s Leading Lady

Who run the world? Girls! – Beyonce

My latest inspiration stems from a career dream I have to one day (hopefully sooner than later, while I’m still physically able!) work for the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Their “top dog” has been Police Chief since January of 2007. As the only female to ever reach this rank, Chief Cathy Lynn Lanier is an inspiration to all female law enforcement officers as well as young women and teenagers across America aspiring to break the glass ceiling. She has done wonders to help curb the crime and murder rate throughout the city and under her, the force has begun to use body camera’s which help to protect both the officer as well as the individual being questioned, detained, or arrested.

I doubt this post will ever do Ms. Lanier justice, but here is some basic background information on the Chief in addition to her career history.

Personal Life & Education

Cathy Lynn Lanier was born on July 22nd, 1967 in Tuxedo, Maryland (on the outskirts of Washington DC). Dropping out of high school in the 9th grade, she became a teen mom to her son Anthony at just 15 years old.

After becoming a police officer, Lanier decided to go back to school. She received her GED from the University of the District of Columbia. From Johns Hopkins University, she holds both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in management. Ms. Lanier also holds a Master of Arts in national security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. A link to her thesis, titled Preventing Terror Attacks in the Homeland: A New Mission for State and Local Police, can be found at the bottom of this article under related links.

Career Achievements

Lanier joined the police force in Washington D.C. in 1990. Quickly rising through the ranks, only 9 years into her career, when promoted to Inspector she was put in charge of the MPD’s Major Narcotics Branch and Vehicular Homicide Units. The next year (August 2000), Cathy was promoted to Commander-in-Charge of the Fourth District, which receives DC’s most diverse residents award. There are 7 total DC area police districts.

“Chief Lanier was named Commander of the Special Operations Division (SOD), where, for four years, she managed the Emergency Response Team, Aviation and Harbor Units, Horse Mounted and Canine Units, Special Events/Dignitary Protection Branch, and Civil Disturbance Units.  During her tenure as SOD Commander, she established the agency’s first Homeland Security/Counter-Terrorism Branch and created an agency-wide chemical, biological, radiological response unit known as the Special Threat Action Team.” Click here for more info on the quote.

“In 2006, the MPD’s Office of Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism (OHSCT) was created, and Chief Lanier was tapped to be its first Commanding Officer. A highly respected professional in the areas of homeland security and community policing, she took the lead role in developing and implementing coordinated counter-terrorism strategies for all units within the MPD and launched Operation TIPP (Terrorist Incident Prevention Program).” Click here for more info on the quote.

On April 3rd, 2007, Lanier was sworn in by the Council of the District of Columbia as the new Chief of Police. Her 5-year contract was renewed in 2012, expiring in 2017.

  • 1990: sworn in as an officer
  • 1994: Sergeant
  • 1996: Lieutenant
  • 1999: Captain
  • 1999: Inspector
  • 2000: Commander
  • 2007: Chief of Police

“All those marijuana arrests do is make people hate us. Marijuana smokers are not going to attack and kill a cop. They just want to get a bag of chips and relax. Alcohol is a much bigger problem.” – Chief Lanier

Related Links / More Information:

DC.gov Chief of Police

LA Times: From Teen Mom to Top Cop

A Top Cop Who Gets It

Wikipedia: Cathy L. Lanier

Lanier’s Thesis (Sept. 2005)


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