D.C. top public safety official Chris Geldat resigns amid controversy

Chris Geldart is Washington, D.C.’s deputy mayor for public safety and justice after a personal trainer accused city officials of assaulting him, and questions have been raised over whether he violated cabinet members living within city limits requirements.

DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced she had accepted his resignation Wednesday afternoon.

“I regret to say that I have accepted the resignation of Deputy Mayor Chris Gerdart,” Bowser said in a news conference. “But I’m proud of the work we’ve done together over the past few years.”

She declined to say what prompted Geldart’s resignation, saying only that “all the issues raised distracted him and my work.” Bowser said the decision to resign was a “joint” decision and the two had a “face-to-face” conversation. .

DC public safety deputy mayor furloughed after assault allegations

Geldart’s departure was first reported by NBC4. “I don’t want to interfere with the vital work of the district government’s public safety agency,” he told the news station.

He did not respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment.

Geldart has been on leave since early last week, when police said the personal trainer swore in a criminal complaint that Geldart grabbed him by the neck on Oct. 18 in the parking lot of Gold’s Gym in Arlington. 1.

Geldart is scheduled to appear in court on Monday for an arraignment hearing on criminal charges.

Bowser said City Administrator Kevin Donahue will oversee the D.C. public safety agency until the city hires a permanent replacement. Donahue replaced Gerdat when he was put on leave last week.

Bowser’s office initially downplayed the assault allegations, saying in a statement that “it sounds like something that happens to a lot of people.” The mayor said Wednesday that she had not seen video footage of the attack when her office made comments.

Video of part of the encounter showed personal trainers Dustin Woodward and Gaildart fighting side-by-side as Gaildart pointed aggressively at each other before Gaildart approached Woodward. Woodward claimed the deputy mayor had strangled him. Footage shows Gerdat appearing to push Woodward before pushing his arm away.

“The reaction was severe,” Bowser said. “But…it’s nothing.”

According to Woodward, the altercation began when Gerdart’s car door slammed into Woodward’s car in the parking lot.

“Just a lot,” Woodward said in a statement, referring to Gerdat’s resignation. “I’m not necessarily happy about his resignation. There’s a bunch of mixed emotions out there.”

Shortly after the incident, Geldart came under scrutiny over his residency rights. A statement from Arlington County police about the incident said Geldat lives in Falls Church, Virginia, which raised concerns among community leaders that the deputy mayor was violating Washington, D.C. laws. According to regional regulations, senior appointees in the executive branch must become city residents within 180 days of their appointment and maintain that status during their tenure.

Bowser has previously said she knew that Gerdat had a house in Virginia where his family lived and that he was allowed to own a second home. On Wednesday, she said Gerdat “claims to be settled in the district” and stressed that she wants her cabinet members to be “true” residents of the city.

Geldart has served as deputy mayor for public safety and justice since early 2021, a role that involves overseeing the city’s police force, emergency and fire response, prisons and other agencies charged with keeping Washington residents safe. He previously served as head of the Department of Public Works and the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C., and was praised by the mayor for his role in the city’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2017, he resigned as head of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington amid allegations he used the office for the benefit of “close acquaintances.” The city’s ethics committee ultimately dismissed the investigation, citing insufficient evidence.

“Chris has been a very capable and effective public servant,” Bowser said Wednesday.

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