Peter Newsham

Former DC Police Chief Begins Job in Prince William Amid Protests Over His Hiring

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Former D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham began his new job leading Prince William County, Virginia, police Monday amid protests over the county's decision to hire him.

A series of protests in Prince William County have expressed fury about the hiring of Newsham as chief of the Prince William County Police Department.

Resident Aida Campos said she doesn't feel the job Newsham did in the District is right for Prince William County.

“There's already such a terrible foundation here when it comes to being pulled over,” she said. “There's so much anxiety in the community because of the profiling."

Newsham said he's spent the past month reaching out to minority groups to hear what they need from his department and wants those conversations to continue.

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"If you have concerns with me personally, you have concerns with the way that the Prince William County Police Department provides police service here in this county, let's sit, let's talk, let’s figure out a way we can have some common goals and move forward," he said.

Newsham said one of his top priorities is to hire more officers of color to better reflect the county, where nonwhites are the majority of the population.

Campos says that's not enough.

"I don't think that, you know, changing the color of skin of a police officer is going to improve policing," she said.

Newsham agrees, saying a diverse staff is a start but earning the community's trust will take a lot more work.

“When we do have interactions with our community that everybody who's watching believes that those interactions were unbiased, that they were just, that they were constitutional," he said.

Newsham said changing a culture and stigma is a slow, steady and deliberate process.

Some people in the community think that process would have started sooner had the county hired a person of color as the chief.

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