Assistant Chief of DC Metro Police Gains Deeper Perspective on Global Affairs in EMIR in DC Program
November 3, 2022
The executive assistant chief of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department is pursuing an executive master’s degree in Maxwell’s D.C. program.
For more than 25 years, Ashan Benedict worked in federal law enforcement for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), where he was involved in responses to many major crises, including the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernadino, California. As head of the ATF office in Washington, he led the bureau’s deployment at the U.S. Capitol during the riots on Jan. 6, 2021.
In the spring of 2021, Benedict began a new chapter in his career when he was invited to join the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., as executive assistant chief of police—the second in command overseeing a department of more than 4,000 individuals, with a particular emphasis on suppressing violent crime. His new position is very much focused on the city itself but, he says, also has a much broader scope.
“We’re unique in that here is the nation’s capital, with the Supreme Court, White House and U.S. Capitol,” he says. “Every government’s embassy is here, and we have visitors from across the world. People come to exercise their First Amendment protected rights, and we help them do so safely. It’s best to know what the issues are related to Russia, China, Iran, Ukraine, our Five Eyes partners...All of that comes into play.”
These dynamics inspired Benedict to deepen his perspective on global affairs—by enrolling in the Maxwell School’s executive master’s in international relations program, offered in Washington, in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“Just having a good understanding of how we can best protect the citizens and visitors of this nation’s capital is really what drew me to the Maxwell program,” says Benedict. “Very specifically, it was the partnership with Maxwell and CSIS that took me over top as far as picking a graduate program. It is in person, working in conjunction with a well-respected think tank, and it’s nonpartisan.”
Benedict is now juggling his work for the Metropolitan Police Department with his studies, and he’s impressed by the deep experience of all involved in the graduate program. The faculty are “writing briefing papers and advising the executive and legislative branches on issues,” he says. “That’s really important to me. They’re practitioners; right now, for instance, we have Secretary [Ryan] McCarthy, the former Army secretary, teaching a class.” Fellow students have a wealth of professional experience that they share too, he adds, such as a classmate who worked with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Even in the midst of the program, Benedict says he is applying knowledge from his international studies—about the Russia/Ukraine war, for instance—to his daily work. “To know the ins and outs of that particular conflict and how NATO factors into it, and to be able to talk to folks here in front of the White House—it’s extremely important to put all of that in context,” he says.
“There’s almost a daily protest in front of the Cuban Embassy, or at the Chinese Embassy over the suppression of the Uyghurs...Our deployment is going to rise and fall based on the nature of what’s happening in the world at any given moment. So, I’m applying what I’m learning in real time.”
All of these experiences have also deepened Benedict’s ties to Washington, where his family has had a home for 20 years.
“We’ve had a very close connection with the community while we raised our kids together, but now this position with the police department draws me even closer,” he says. “Just getting out there and talking to folks about community policing, how we strategize, how we deploy—it’s eye-opening for my neighbors, my friends who live in the city, co-workers who come in and out of the city. I think it helps make the connection stronger with law enforcement and the community.”
By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers
Hear more from Ashan Benedict.
Published in the Fall 2022 issue of the Maxwell Perspective
Washington, D.C., is home to a thriving academic program and the greatest concentration of Maxwell School alumni outside of New York. Read their stories.
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Graduate student Heather Fischer is the senior advisor for human rights crimes at Thomson Reuters Special Services.
Hugo Brousset ’13 works with the World Bank’s Partnership for Economic Inclusion, focusing on social protection with a global scope.
Teena Curry '07 M.P.A. is now a private enterprise office for USAID and says her Maxwell courses and humanitarian work with the Peace Corps prepared her for the public service role.
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