cathy lanier*(Via NBC News) – One of the steadying voices that emerged in the wake of Monday’s mass shooting at the Navy Yard was that of Cathy Lanier, chief of police with the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia.

The tough-as-nails commander told NBC News that, as Washington D.C.’s first female police chief, she brings a unique perspective to the job: A certain compassion that stood out as she consoled not only a shaken city but also the grief-stricken families of the 12 people who lost their lives at the hand of 34-year-old former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis.

“Well, I mean, I think women and men do some things differently,” Lanier said. “I think it’s easier to show compassion, not only to my troops but to the people in the community.”

Lanier, 46, who went from being a teenage mom on food stamps to being appointed police chief by the mayor in 2007, told The New York Times — in an interview weeks before the shooting — that she readily gives out her cellphone number to anyone in the community who might need it.

“If they call me in the middle of the night, they’ve got something I want to hear,” she said.

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