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THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2015 — On the other side of the world from his birthplace in Mogadishu, Somalia, Khalid Abdi at today’s swearing-in ceremony became the Portland Police Bureau’s first Somali-American police officer.
“Portland’s Somali community has been so active in our public safety efforts,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “It’s important that we think about the relationship between our police officers and the 600,000 citizens of Portland. As we diversify the Police Bureau to better reflect all Portlanders, it’s an honor to congratulate our first officer from that community.”
Joined by his family, friends, and Portland’s African community, now-Officer Abdi was one of seven new police officers sworn in at today’s ceremony. Five officers were promoted to sergeant, and two officers were promoted to detective.
The Somali community’s primary organizing group, the Somali American Council of Oregon (SACOO), contributes to a range of Police Bureau initiatives, and is an active among Portland’s immigrant outreach organizations. City officials working to combat gang and youth violence have looked to the SACOO’s East African All-Stars basketball team as a prime example of successfully providing young people an alternative to gang involvement.
Like many young Somalis in Portland, Officer Khalid Abdi is a recent immigrant to the United States.
Officer Abdi was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. He moved to Cairo, Egypt, in 2001, where he attended middle school. His family emigrated from North Africa, settling in Portland in February 2006.
He attended Wilson High School, and was a member of the high school’s track and field team. He graduated in 2009, and headed to Portland State University to study criminology.
Officer Abdi majored in Criminology and Criminal Justice at PSU, achieving membership in the national criminal justice honor society, Alpha Phi Sigma. In September 2014, he graduated as an honor student from PSU with a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice and minor in Psychology.
Officer Abdi is trilingual, fluent in Arabic, Somali, and English.
Before joining the force, Officer Abdi interned with Police Bureau. He was assigned to the Strategic Service Division (SSD), where he helped with human trafficking data.
“I would like to thank Sgt. Greg Stewart and the entire SSD staff for allowing me to be part of their family while I was there,” Officer Abdi said. “I would like to give special thanks to Officer Natasha Haunsperger and Officer Tim Evans for their continuous support throughout this process.”
In his free time, Officer Abdi likes to spend time with his family, play soccer, and watch his favorite team Chelsea Football Club take on the English Prime League.
The Portland Police Bureau's Strategic Services Division has partnered with the Criminology and Criminal Justice program at Portland State University (PSU) to create a new website designed to inform Portland residents of longer term crime trends; to show the geographic distribution of crime in the city; and to reveal temporal patterns in criminal offending. The overall goal of the project is to provide residents and visitors with the critical information needed to accurately assess their risk for victimization.
The website was developed by current and former PSU students, a Criminology Professor, and crime analysts from the Police Bureau. The project offers Criminology Master's degree students an opportunity to intern with PPB crime analysts and develop skills in GIS crime mapping and data analysis. The students will be updating the website annually to ensure that the public has access to the most recent data possible.
This website increases the transparency of police data by having it analyzed and reviewed by an external partner, said Sergeant Greg Stewart of the Portland Police Bureau. "At the same time, it allows us to better inform the public about crime trends and patterns in the city. From our perspective it is a win-win. The Police Bureau has a long-standing commitment to working with community organizations, and this project demonstrates the potential gains from such partnerships."
"People in our community often do not know that crime in Portland has declined considerably since the mid 1990's," said Dr. Kris Henning, Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice at Portland State University. "They turn on the local TV news, read our local newspapers, and watch crime-based reality shows and see a lot of crime. This makes it seem like things are more dangerous now in aggregate than ever before. The students and criminal justice professionals working on this project believe that access to better, more contextualized crime data is key to accurately assessing our risk and combating excess fear of crime. That is what we hope to achieve with the new website."
"Portland Police have been working with the community to increase transparency and accountability, and this is another tool in that toolbox," said Mayor Charlie Hales, commissioner in charge of the Bureau. "This is a tool for the public and the media to better understand how crime looks in our city so they have the information to hold us accountable. I don't quote Ronald Reagan very often, but 'trust but verify.'"
The public is invited to explore the website, found at: http://www.pdx.edu/crime-data/
THURSDAY, FEB. 19, 2015 — In a 3-2 decision, the Portland City Council today voted to join the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. Mayor Hales said it was a difficult decision — 51/49 in his mind. In this video he discusses his decision. Below, find a transcript of Mayor Hales' remarks at City Council.
Mayor Hales introduces the Joint Terrorism Task Force agenda item:
"Let me first set the stage ... We wanted to set this up as two clearly articulated alternatives for the council given, to my mind and I think in all our minds, that the current arrangement that we have had for our work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on terrorist issues has not been satisfactory, in that we didn't have the level of participation that some asked for, we didn't have the level of clarity and communication back to the city that I would expect. So we tried to put this on the table before the council in an obvious and clear dichotomy, and then let the community give us their opinions.
"We have certainly heard from a lot of people on this issue. I heard some strong feelings. I have to tell you, this is probably the most one of the most difficult decisions for me to address while I have been on the council this term. The first time around, when this came before the council, I voted against participating. There are very good reasons for that opinion. In fact, there are things that still weigh strongly in my mind towards not participating. There's also now some very strong and compelling arguments on the other side.
"I want to take the prerogative of the chair and in a moment take up first, No. 197, which is the memorandum to participate. I believe in my own mind, after weighing all this, that we should participate, but that we should with some very clear caveats and understandings among ourselves. I'll go ahead and make my statement now at the outset rather than waiting to the ends when I vote.
"As I said, there's strong feelings on both sides of this issue. In my own heart and my own mind there are two words that I think my dilemma about this issue have evolved around. One is ashamed, the other is appalled.
"I'm ashamed as an American that we have been involved in wars without justification, in prisons without trials, and in torture. I hate to even say those words. I don't have too much trouble making decisions in this job, but sometimes I'm up late at night, and lately when I have been up late at night, I have been watching Ken Burns' series about World War 2. The moral clarity that we as a country had at the ends of that war contrasts so appallingly with what we have done lately in the world, that it makes it very difficult for me to contemplate cooperating with the federal government because I think much of what has been done unfortunately in the last several administrations has cost us moral authority in the world and violates principles that I really believe in as an American. So I am ashamed. And many federal agencies have been complicit in those wrongs, including the FBI.
"The other word is appalled. I'm appalled by the radical evil that is loose in the world today. I'm appalled at what has happened to innocent people. We were all appalled on September 11th when our country was attacked, and that was an attack by terrorists on symbols of American power that murdered a lot of innocent people. Maybe there were some of us here in Portland who could have thought then, well, that was an attack on the symbols of American power. It may not affect us here in Portland. But most recently, the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen and Boston are incidents in which people, we call them terrorists, attacked their own communities and murdered their neighbors. And I think any conceit that we might be exempt from that radical evil here is unfortunately removed by what happened in those places.
"So that's the dilemma that faces me, and each of us as members of this council. I know we have all agonized over this decision. We have also heard from the community about the downside of participating in any kind of arrangement with the FBI because again, the fear, legitimate fear, based on historical injustice and recent mistakes and misconduct in this and other federal agencies. We have heard from the Muslim community on both sides of this issue, some who see the value in joining and some who don't want us to join, and a real cry for us to develop a sound relationship with this in each of the communities in our city. So I think we have all heard and taken to heart those concerns.
"A couple of things pulled me toward the reluctant decision that we should participate in this partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which we already do on many other fronts. We have cooperative arrangements with the FBI on child exploitation, on human trafficking, on bank robbery, on gangs. We work with the FBI constantly. That's natural and normal thing in a metropolitan area with a state line close by. The same thing is true, of course, in other areas of criminal activity like terrorism.
"So the question is, will we be safer if we share information or will we be less safe because people will fear our relationship with the FBI? I think there's some things that we can do in this arrangement and some people that we can rely on that again make this a marginally justifiable decision.
"One is I have complete confidence in Larry O'Dea as my police chief and as our police chief and as somebody who reflects Portland's values. This man is all about the relationship between the police bureau and our community, and I do believe that he completely reflects our values about civil liberties and trust as the basis for policing. So I know that I can rely on him.
"Then I have asked him for some things if we were to make this decision and he's enthusiastically agreed this is what we should do. That is if we decide to join the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the chief of police and I are going to sit down with the officers who would be assigned to this work and personally instruct them in what is expected and required of them if we do. One is that they will follow the law and they will follow our policies as a city and that they will follow the values of the community that they serve. If there ever comes a moment when their values and those instructions conflict with working in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they are not only encouraged they are required to come to the chain of command for which they work, the chief of police, the city of Portland, and the police commissioner for the city of Portland, and to let us know that there's a conflict between what they are being asked to do and what Portlanders would want them to do and how they would want them to do it. That their performance as a Portland police officer and their future as a Portland police officer will be assured by sticking to our values if there's ever a conflict. I believe that if we give those instructions to the right officers that they will be followed.
"Secondly, you've heard my criticism and I have heard a lot of people's criticisms of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I do believe that Greg, the current special agent in charge of Portland, is a man of integrity, someone who will be honest with me. I have met this man, I have spoken with him, I have questioned him closely. I believe he personally, not talking about the organization, talking about him personally, I believe that he personally is someone who will be truthful with me and who is a person of integrity. If you can't believe that in any business, then you're going to have a difficult time doing your job. So I believe that we can rely on that.
"Further, we're going to make sure there are safeguards in place and they are here in terms of our officers seeking legal advice from the city attorney about Oregon law, about our city attorney periodically training these officers, and about me as the commissioner in charge of the police bureau under a nondisclosure agreement getting much more complete information about what our officers are doing. My standard will be if I'm not sure that our officers are performing in ways that we as a city would want them, then I'll come back to this council with the opposite resolution and ask that we withdraw.
"But I think given what's loose in the world and what's been the harm that's already done to innocent people in places like Boston, that as your police commissioner this is the right decision for me in good conscience to make. So that's why I will support on this controlled basis for now with these people this arrangement. So that's my suggestion to us as a council for what we do today."
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 10, 2014 — Mayor Charlie Hales on Tuesday talked to approximately 50 people involved in "Don't Shoot Portland," a group that has been organizing protests in Portland in the wake of theFerguson, Mo., and Staten Island grand jury decisions not to indict police officers who killed unarmed black men.
The mayor invited key organizers to talk about policy action items for an hour, but the group showed up with about 70 people, chanting in City Hall. Hales allowed Teressa Raiford, a primary organizer, to select groups of people to talk directly with the mayor in his office's conference room for an hour and a half. The group live-streamed the conversations online.
Mayor Hales and his staff said despite the unplanned large group, the discussions were respectful and productive.
"The most important issue highlighted by these initial conversations," Mayor Hales said, "is that all of our institutions have a role in, and have a choice in, either perpetuating or eliminating the racial inequities that persist in our nation."
Below are action items Mayor Hales identified in conversations, and notes on the groups' primary issues:
RESPONSE TO PROTESTS:
MULTNOMAH COUNTY EQUITABLE POLICIES:
PORTLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS:
RESPONSE TO PROTESTS
Mayor Hales: “There were a few very specific concerns about handling of particular free speech events during the past weeks’ series of events. Complaints regarding these incidents have already been filed with the Independent Police Review, and the Auditor’s Office is investigating. Overall, I am very pleased with the many hours of strategic response from the Police Bureau, creating a safe environment for demonstrators and the general public.”
Don’t Shoot Portland:
Mayor Hales: “We need to clarify that we are 100 percent committed to implementing the DOJ settlement agreement both in spirit and letter. The appeal pertains to a portion of the judge’s order that came after the settlement agreement; the order adds vague participation by the judge. We are seeking clarity on the judge’s role — all the while implementing the terms of the agreement. We continue to move ahead with major police reform in training, managing, documenting and evaluating use of force. We continue to invest financial and personnel resources to achieve the reforms laid out in the document. The appeal of the judge’s order — not the agreement — has absolutely no impact on the implementation of these reforms.
“When the form becomes available this week, community members may apply to become at-large members of the Community Oversight and Advisory Board. We are looking for a diverse group of people to closely review police activities and tell us where we have been successful and what we need to do more work on.”
Don’t Shoot Portland:
PORTLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS:
Mayor Hales: “Portland Public Schools has done tremendous work in reducing overall rates of out-of-class suspensions and expulsions. There’s still work to do in addressing disparate numbers based on race and students with special needs. A community member suggested PPS take on a model like our Gang Impacted Family Team program, providing wrap-around support services to parents and children of who are having significant struggles in the schools. That’s useful insight, and possibly a way we can assist the school district.”
Don’t Shoot Portland:
FRIDAY, DEC. 5, 2014 -- Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Bret Barnum and photographer Johnny Nguyen had one thing in common on a chilly afternoon at a demonstration: They both asked 12-year-old Devonte Hart if he was OK.
The boy, holding a sign advertising “Free Hugs,” had tears streaming down his cheeks.
Nguyen, a 20-year-old Portland Community College student, captured the moment when Sgt. Barnum cashed in on the free hug. He was moved to hug the child for the same reason he’d hug his children, who are Devonte’s age: “You do what’s human,” Barnum said Friday morning.
Barnum and Nguyen met with Mayor Charlie Hales on Friday. Nguyen delivered his first prints of the photographs, and the photographer and sergeant signed them. One print will be displayed in the mayor’s office. The other will be delivered to President Barack Obama next week, via a Portland business owner who serves on a presidential commission.
Nguyen told Mayor Hales as he was editing his take, he was moved to share the image: “There are images of all the violence out there. But I knew there are other images out there. I think I went out subconsciously looking for that image.”
Barnum told Mayor Hales that in the context of Devonte’s mother’s reaction (read it here:https://www.facebook.com/jen.hart.79/posts/10152358416736261:0), “tears come to my eyes when I think of her story, and that hug, and that moment.”
Hales expressed gratitude for Devonte’s big heart, for Barnum’s kind response, and for Nguyen’s compassionate eye. “In this business we don’t get a lot of good news,” he said. “This gives us all some hope.”
FRIDAY, DEC. 5, 2014 -- The Oregonian today explained the last step to outfitting our officers with body cameras: Amending privacy legislation at the state level.
"I've budgeted the funding, the Police Bureau is preparing a request for proposals for hardware," Mayor Charlie Hales said. "We're working with stakeholders on details of the legislation, and are ready to go as soon as the Oregon Legislature acts."
EXCERPT FROM THE STORY: "Portland police want to outfit officers with body cameras in the next fiscal year. ... But first, police say, they need state lawmakers to adopt an amendment to Oregon's eavesdropping law.
The law requires anyone who audio-records a conversation to tell all parties that the conversation is being recorded. An exception was approved for law enforcement when using dash cameras, providing the officer is in uniform and displaying a badge, unless a reasonable opportunity exists to tell people they're being recorded.
Portland police will push lawmakers to extend the exemption to body cameras, according to the city's legislative agenda.
The city also wants the Legislature to curb the public release of body camera recordings and footage. City officials said they're concerned about footage taken inside private homes or that involves 'traumatic and sensitive interactions with citizens.'"
FRIDAY, DEC. 5, 2014 -- Street Roots, the homeless advocacy newspaper, praised Portland Police Bureau walking beats in a recent editorial.
"I'm thankful for the validation from Street Roots regarding the walking beat patrol," Mayor Charlie Hales said. "My vision for the future: Walking beats in every neighborhood."
From editor Israel Bayer: "With more than 2,000 interactions with people experiencing homelessness and the general public, the 10 police officers only wrote 21 citations this summer. The officers made just over 200 arrests, mostly for outstanding warrants. We will take those odds any day of the week.
Being able to find the right formula that doesn’t criminalize any one group of people in public spaces is a real breakthrough for Portland."
THURSDAY, DEC. 4, 2014 — Mayor Charlie Hales recently convened a work session on managing the homeless population on sidewalks and in parks to brief City Council on the Portland Police Bureau’s work toward relationship-building as policing.
Hales, commissioner in charge of the police bureau, in the summer joined a police walking beat on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, and was impressed with the evident relationships those police officers had built with the homeless population and business owners. Hales plans on growing the police-community connection, with a vision of a walking patrol in every neighborhood.
“As Sir Robert Peel said, ‘The police are the public and the public are the police,’” Hales said. “That’s our guiding principle.”
At the meeting, Hales asked police, outreach organizations, and others to share with the rest of Council their experiences with the pilot programs.
“Street Roots wants to say the walking beat has been great success. It can be national model for police bureaus across the country, which are looking for formulas that may work to solve these problems. In 15 years been doing this work, this is the best program I’ve seen.”
“I deeply applaud Central Precinct’s work. This is something that, at Janus, we’ve been striving for for at least a decade—this level of partnership. It’s not a matter of shifting back to community policing, it’s a matter of putting the right officers with right training out of the street. I deeply respect all the men on the police foot patrol.
“For me, and I’ve doing street outreach for over 13 years, it’s like having a whole ’nother team of street outreach workers out there. Their level of empathy, compassion, the way they’re engaging young people experiencing homelessness should be applauded. And I agree with Israel: This should be a national model.
“All of us who do this work, we know it’s a process of coming back over and over again, and building trust to the point people actually believe that your offer of services is an offer of ongoing support and relationships that go beyond recommendation to a service that’s already very full.
“We at JOIN have had a relationship with police for close to 20 years. This approach to the work has been present, but now it’s organized and it’s getting support at the highest levels of the Police Bureau.And it’s going to make a world of difference—it did this summer in the pilot area, not just in addressing these problems, but also in bringing to community attention to them.
“It didn’t solve the problem of camping, and of people generating complaints; we still have thousands of people living personal private lives out on the street.
“What changed was the way the officers tasked with responding to that were engaging people. It wasn’t just, ‘this is the impact you’re having on the neighborhood.’ It was recognizing, ‘asking you to move has an adverse impact on you,’ and addressing that.”
For the walking beat pilot program, Sgt. Deland wanted a team of officers who volunteered for the duty; 12 did. Since the success of the program, more officers have e-mailed him, interested in joining, he said.
“We welcomed an entire community of people back to Portland after they’ve been told, ‘we don’t want you here.’ We invited them back in and said, ‘We want good people here. We want good people invested in community.’ We talked to them about how they present themselves, and they responded in droves.”
DeLand said the officers this summer led by example. For instance, he said, “Uniformed officers picked up garbage this year.”
One day on Hawthorne, he saw that someone had knocked over the newspaper boxes in front of Bagdad Theater, leaving a mess of newspapers strewn across the sidewalk and in the street. He walked over and started picking them up. A person sitting at a table put down his beer to help. The traveler asking for change in front of the building got up to help. The three found a business with a recycling bin to toss the papers. When DeLand walked back along the stretch, people at the tables outside the Bagdad raised their beers.
“We brought a scalpel to this broad brush problem—that’s the change we made this year. We dealt with people on an individual basis, with the families they create for themselves, with tribes, as they call themselves.”
DeLand pointed to an example another speaker had, of a sign on the porch saying, “If you’re going to sleep here, please leave by dawn and clean up after yourself”; people have done just that. “That’s the experience we’ve had with people,” he said.
“That’s the vast majority of people. If you present the issues and how they can help, they’ll be responsive to that. Only a handful of people haven’t been,” he said.
He pointed to the Waterfront Park cleanup, when 100 travelers worked shoulder-to-shoulder to clean up garbage in the park.
“Invite them to be part of the solution rather than being part of the problem, and they’ll jump at the opportunity.”
FRIDAY, NOV. 7, 2014 – Portland City Commissioners will enter negotiations next week with a team led by Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum of the University of Illinois at Chicago to serve as the Compliance Officer and Community Liaison.
Joining the Rosenbaum team will be retired Chief Justice Paul De Muniz of the Oregon Supreme Court.
Also on the team is Dr. Amy Watson, an associate professor at the University of Illinois’ Jane Addams College of Social Work, and a nationally recognized expert on police interactions with people experiencing mental illness.
The City Council will consider the ordinance at its Wednesday, Nov. 12, meeting.
“This is a world-class team, which will make sure the city remains in compliance with the settlement, and works in good faith with our community,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “Adding Justice De Muniz to the team gives this position true gravitas.”
Commissioner Amanda Fritz coordinated the proposed selection of this team, in consultation with Mayor Hales and all Commissioners, after considering public input in the 30-day public comment period required by the Settlement Agreement.
“I was impressed with all three finalists for the position,” she said. “While I share some concerns we heard from community members that a team based in Chicago might have challenges becoming and staying connected in Portland, I believe the active involvement of Justice De Muniz will provide the necessary well-grounded local leadership.”
Rosenbaum is a professor of criminology; law and justice; and psychology at the University of Illinois. He was worked extensively on the issues of police interactions with communities.
De Muniz was the first Hispanic Chief Justice in Oregon, elected to the Supreme Court in 2000, and elected as Chief Justice in 2006. He also served on the Oregon Court of Appeals for 10 years. He attended Madison High School in Portland and Portland State University.
Also on the team are Dr. Geoffrey Alpert, professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of South Carolina; and Tom Christoff of the National Police Research Platform, which assists with the development of survey tools and research methodology in police-community interactions.
The city also is considering hiring a mental health advocate and specialist who will assist a Community Oversight Advisory Board, or COAB, on issues related to mental illness. Recruitment starts in December.
That board, along with the Compliance Officer/Community Liaison – also known as the COCL – are part of the settlement agreement between the city and the Federal Department of Justice to reform police practices in the city. The city, DOJ, the Albina Ministerial Alliance for Justice and Police Reform, and the police union came to an agreement on a settlement earlier this year, and a federal judge accepted the agreement in August.
The city has been enacting a wide array of the reforms, including in the areas of police training and discipline; use of force and use of Tasers; and de-escalation policies. In October, Mayor Hales announced that Assistant Chief Larry O’Dea would be promoted to chief, starting in January. O’Dea has been a leader in enacting police reforms and building relationships with the community.
The naming of the Compliance Officer and Community Liaison is the latest step in years of work to improve police procedures.
The role of the COCL includes auditing, surveying and analysis of the level and quality of the city’s implementation of the DOJ settlement. The COCL also will collaborate with the community to measure success of improvements to police interactions.
Publically aired 9/29/14 Candidate Presentations
Video of the candidate presentations: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/article/50622
Mayor Hosts Meeting with Community Leaders, Future Chief Larry O'Dea
TUESDAY, OCT. 14, 2014 — Last week Mayor Charlie Hales hosted Assistant Chief Larry O’Dea, freshly named as the police chief’s successor, and community leaders to get feedback on community interests.
The Rose Room at City Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 8, was full of elected officials, representatives from nonprofits, and stakeholders in the biking, African-American, faith, immigrant, and other communities.
Themes to the feedback arose. Community members want:
> A clear statement in words and action that O’Dea wouldn’t be the status quo; they don’t want “business as usual.”
> More engagement with the immigrant community, revisiting ideas such as Russian-speaking police officers appearing on Russian Radio 1010 AM, which was touted as successful outreach.
> Diversity in interview panels for entry-level and sergeant jobs, as well as in police outreach activities like the Citizens Academy. The academy is a one-day, day-in-the-life training in which citizens can learn about an officer’s day. Particularly since the bureau’s new training facility will serve as the sole location for the academy—rather than upward of four locations previously—the community requested more outreach to people of color, the immigrant community, and low-income citizens.
For facilitators, a few individual ideas stood out:
Gale Castillo, president of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber: Castillo suggested better outreach to Latinos and other people of color to encourage them to become non-sworn, community service officers. Such entry-level positions provide non-emergency police services, which sets them on the path to becoming sworn officers.
Jonathan Maus, bike advocate and founder of BikePortland.org: Maus suggested using bike patrol units on the Springwater Corridor, where there has been an influx of homeless campers. Maus also asked O’Dea to consider forming a bike theft task force to address what he says is a growing problem.
Avel Gordly, community organizer and former state senator: Gordly encouraged O’Dea and the Police Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit to work closely with the Avel Gordly Center for Healing at OHSU, which provides culturally specific mental health care.
Dr. T. Allen Bethel, pastor at Maranatha Church: Bethel asked for intentionality around the chief’s office appointments. People in the room nodded in agreement when he specified intentionality in appointing people of color.
Mayor Names Assistant Chief Larry O’Dea as Successor
TUESDAY, OCT. 7, 2014 – Chief Mike Reese today announced his plans for retirement from the Portland Police Bureau. Mayor Charlie Hales has named his replacement: Assistant Chief Larry O’Dea.
“Larry O’Dea is one of the most decorated officers in the bureau — 11 medals and 75 letters of commendation,” Hales said. “He shares my goals and aspirations. He has been living the idea of community engagement. He has led the bureau’s equity work. He has the respect of the command staff, the rank-and-file, and the community. He is the right leader at the right time.”
Hales, O’Dea and Reese today will host a press conference about the transition, which is planned for January 2015. It will be the first smooth transition between chiefs in two decades.
The mayor praised Reese’s tenure as chief, citing not only the U.S. Department of Justice settlement, but also the opening last month of the most complete law enforcement training facility in the region. Under Reese’s leadership, the bureau instituted new discipline guidelines, new training procedures, and has hired a more diverse set of new officers in recent recruitments.
“I thank Mike Reese for his leadership and his service,” Hales said. “Mike saw us through the investigation and settlement with the DOJ. This was a key milestone for our city and the community’s relationship with the bureau.”
Reese joined the bureau in 1994 and served as a sergeant, lieutenant, captain and commander. A native Portlander and graduate of Roosevelt High School, he has served as chief since May 2010.
O’Dea will immediately begin leading strategic planning that has long-term impacts for the bureau, including the DOJ settlement implementation, budget, staffing study, promotions, and transition to a new records management system.
O’Dea has served with Portland Police since 1986. He has been a uniformed patrol officer, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain. He has served as assistant chief of services and assistant chief of operations.
He has an executive certificate from the Mark Hatfield School of Government at PSU; a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Portland State University; and an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Portland Community College.
“We have made important strides in diversifying the bureau, in hiring, in training, in discipline guidelines, in de-escalation,” Hales said. “And with Mike taking a well-earned retirement, Larry O’Dea is exactly the right person to handle the big challenges ahead.”
Hales said his priorities for the next chief will include:
● Expanding community engagement. That includes the walking beats re-introduced this year.
● Focusing on equity and diversity issues, including training for officers and continued recruitment of a more representative workforce.
● Critiquing the Police Bureau’s budget, ensuring taxpayers’ dollars are used wisely.
● Implementing the DOJ settlement on schedule.
Among the DOJ settlement’s requirements are consistent leadership and smooth transitions between chiefs. O’Dea participated in all aspects of the DOJ discussions, and understands the nuances of the complex agreement.
O’Dea said he is honored to accept the position of police chief.
“My four primary focus areas are: Community trust and relationship building; diversifying the bureau and bureau leadership; communications and collaboration; and being fiscally smart and responsible,” O’Dea said.
“I am so excited about the direction we’re moving,” he added. “You can see it in the command staff and in the rank-and-file. It’s about relationships with the community. It’s not about the number of arrests; it’s about working on the things that are important to the community.”
The press conference is at noon at the Justice Center in the Wayne Sullivan Room, 14th Floor, 1111 SW 2nd Ave.
Mayor Encourages Public Comment on Candidates for DOJ Compliance Officer/Community Liaison
MONDAY, OCT. 27, 2014 — As the deadline for comment approaches, Mayor Charlie Hales is encouraging public feedback on candidates for Compliance Officer/Community Liaison, or COCL.
The COCL will oversee the city’s compliance with a U.S. Department of Justice settlement agreement outlining police reforms, and act as liaison between the community and City Council, ensuring community thoughts and concerns are heard.
“We have three excellent, highly qualified candidates, and it’s important for people in the community to let us know what they think,” Hales said. “We need the public to trust whoever fills this role to monitor the city’s compliance with the settlement.
“We have made great progress in fulfilling the agreement,” Hales added. “We hope the liaison will bolster public trust as we continue with the process.”
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2011 began investigating Portland Police practices, particularly related to those experiencing mental health crises. The DOJ in 2012 found that the Police Bureau needed to reform its policies and training.
When Hales took office in 2013, he embraced the settlement agreement.
Under his leadership, the bureau started implementing action items in the agreement, before it was approved by a federal judge on Aug. 29, 2014.
Among the changes, the Behavioral Health Unit has been expanded and the Crisis Intervention Team has been enhanced, with officers specially trained to respond to people experiencing mental health crises in precincts across the city.
The Police Bureau has changed its policies on the use of Tasers and on use of force. Officers today practice de-escalation tactics, which has reduced use-of-force incidents from 450 in mid-2008 to fewer than 200 in mid-2014.
“More and more our officers are de-escalating confrontations, responding with thoughtfulness and compassion,” Hales said. “Most of the time you won’t read about that in the papers. But change is happening. A liaison who the public trusts will make certain change continues in the direction the community wants.”
The deadline to comment is Oct. 29.
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Attend the City Council hearing Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 2 p.m. in Council Chambers, City Hall, 1221 SW Fourth Ave.
Hawthorne Walking Beats Change Tenor of Community
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 3, 2014 – For the past six months, Portland Police Bureau officers have been walking beats, an old-fashioned concept that had grown out of style in past decades. The first such walking beats are part of a pilot program in downtown, the Central Eastside and along Hawthorne Boulevard.
Reporter Sami Edge of Willamette Week spent several days in August shadowing the officers along Hawthorne, and talking to business people, customers, service providers and youths who hang out along the commercial strip.
“I was convinced that a return to walking beats would change the way the community interacts with Portland Police,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “Finding a new dynamic between Portlanders and Portland Police has been my priority since I took office. And we’re seeing it on Hawthorne. The officers are great. The community is happy. This is a success.”
Hales’ initiatives in 2013 and 2014 have included shepherding through reforms spelled out in a Department of Justice settlement agreement; a focus on the Office of Youth Violence Prevention; the Enough is Enough campaign to encourage community activism in fighting violence; the Black Male Achievement initiative; equity projects with the U.S. Conference of Mayors; and a three-day equity training for senior, white, male leaders in the mayor’s office and Portland Police command staff titled, “White Men as Full Diversity Partners.”
To see if the walking beats are working, Hales toured Hawthorne on Friday, Aug. 29, speaking with customers, shop owners, street youths and officers, including Sgt. Ric DeLand, who’s been with Portland Police for 24 years.
“We’re interacting with them every day,” DeLand said of the street youths on Hawthorne. “We’re involved in their joys, their breakups, their hangovers, their feuds.”
The idea behind walking beats is to create a relationship between officers and members of the community, before a law-enforcement incident occurs. Central Precinct Police Commander Robert Day has been a strong proponent of the beats.
So has DeLand. “Instead of only having contact with the police when they’re being told they’re doing something wrong, they have daily contact with police, petting their dogs, getting to know their story, connecting them with services, understanding what makes them feel unsafe, letting them know we’re aware of any bad behavior,” DeLand said. “It’s analogous to parenting: Don’t ignore someone until they do something wrong and then punish them. But that’s what we do with law enforcement. It doesn’t make sense. You make everything about enforcement you’re just going to get rebellion. Make them part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”
Hales spoke to several people along Hawthorne, including a street musician who goes by the moniker Rain Bojangles. “Wow. It’s much better here now,” Bojangles said. He plays music on a handmade string instruments and often can be seen near the Powell’s Books on Hawthorne. “We used to have a lot of troublemakers who just made things worse for everywhere. They’re gone now, and that’s nice.”
Bojangles pointed to Sgt. DeLand and added: “He stops and talks to me almost every day. He’s a nice guy. He’s here to help.”
DeLand said the walking beats have allowed his officers to see a new aspect to the houseless community and street youths who frequent the area. “To us, prior to this, they all looked the same,” DeLand said. “Now, instead of painting everybody with a broad brush and trying to stamp out traveling in Portland, we’ve targeted the bad behaviors. That builds credibility with the larger community through word-of-mouth.”
And is there danger, walking a beat rather than being in a patrol car? DeLand laughs. “Of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds dogs I’ve pet — all these ‘vicious’ pit bulls — the only time I’ve been bit was by a 7-pound Chihuahua named Pizza. I made the mistake of petting Pizza while he was sound asleep.”
City Appeal to Clarify Judge’s Role in DOJ Settlement
FRIDAY, OCT. 17, 2014 — Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Amanda Fritz on Wednesday will present City Council with a resolution to authorize the City Attorney’s Office to appeal one condition Federal Judge Michael Simon placed on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement agreement.
The judge approved the settlement — an agreement among the City, Portland Police Association, DOJ, and Albina Ministerial Alliance — on Aug. 29. It followed a 2011 DOJ investigation into the Portland Police Bureau.
Hales and Fritz support the reforms outlined in the settlement agreement. Under Hales’ leadership, the Police Bureau started implementing aspects of the agreement long before Simon approved it. The Police Bureau remains committed to moving forward with reforms outlined in the agreement, and will continue to implement all of the changes regardless of court proceedings.
The purpose of the appeal is to clarify the judge’s role. In his order, Simon wrote that the parties were “to present evidence … as so directed by the Court.” The City’s appeal will ask the court to clarify that broad statement.
“All the parties are committed to this settlement. All parties have agreed to this settlement,” Hales said. “Now we want to move forward, get out of court and get to work.”
Fritz said she’s glad Judge Simon accepted the settlement agreement: “It clearly identifies that the Council is directly responsible for oversight, which ensures that Portlanders know who is responsible and accountable for managing the Police Bureau in conformance with the community’s values. The settlement emphasizes community engagement. I believe that public trust in policing in Portland depends on all Council members demonstrating that we are committed to implementing the Agreement fully. I accept that responsibility. I look forward to collaborating with all Portlanders on this crucial work, especially those with lived experience enduring mental illnesses.”
Hales further emphasized that police reforms would continue as outlined under the settlement agreement: "This appeal does not challenge the settlement that four stakeholders — the U.S. Department of Justice, the City, Portland Police Association, and Albina Ministerial Alliance — agreed to. The City and the Police Bureau are fully committed to the reforms outlined in the settlement agreement. Chief Mike Reese, our next chief Larry O’Dea, and the entire bureau remain dedicated to continually improving the service our police officers deliver to the community. This resolution authorizes a narrow appeal to clarify the judge’s role in the implementation. We all want to move forward, get out of court and get to work.
Update: Coverage from The Mercury.
Portland Police Unveil Training Facility
FRIDAY, SEPT. 19, 2014 – Portland Police unveiled a new training facility on Northeast Airport Way, which is designed to help train law enforcement officers from throughout the region improve.
The 10-acre property was purchased in 2012. It was funded with a $15 million bond measure and came in on time and on budget. The facility is expected to generate revenue when it is rented out to other city and county law enforcement agencies.
An open house is set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the facility, 14902 N.E. Airport Way. It will include tours and an opportunity to participate in the obstacle course.
Better training is a key component of the settlement between the City of Portland and the U.S. Department of Justice. Mayor Charlie Hales said the goal is to train “smart, strong and humane” police officers.
Assistant Chief Larry O’Dea told The Oregonian’s Maxine Bernstein, “In the end, what we’re trying to do is build better decision-makers.”
The facility includes an obstacle course, exercise rooms, two firing ranges and office space for the trainers. The former warehouse also includes a mock street scene with cars and buildings, which officers can use for training scenarios. There are no roofs on the buildings, so trainers can watch from above, and videotape, the scenarios for performance reviews.
“This is unlike anything anyone has, anywhere in the area,” said Commander Robert Day, Central Precinct.
Chief Michael Reese said the facility will allow for far better training than in the past, when officers had to travel as far as two hours each way to take advantage of firing ranges, driving ranges and scenario-based training.
The 10-acre property was purchased in 2012. It was funded with a $15 million bond measure and was finished on time – except for the façade. The night before Thursday’s ribbon-cutting, thieves stole a portion of the façade, thinking it was metal and they could sell it as scrap. It wasn’t; they didn’t; and the thieves were apprehended. Mayor Charlie Hales stood in front of the half-finished façade on Thursday and joked about the quality of Portland’s thieves.
Among the elected officials who helped make the facility a reality were former Mayor Sam Adams and former Commissioner Randy Leonard; both of whom were present Thursday.