When Larry O’Dea took the reins of the Portland Police Bureau, he promised to usher in a new era of trust between police and the community, specifically when it comes to officer involved shootings.
“The challenges that we really face as a profession is building trust within all parts of the community,” O’Dea told OPB’s Think Out Loud in 2015. “When I got hired 28 years ago, it was really during the height of violent crime … the height of gun violence in the city of Portland. Now, we’re at a 40-year low in crime. And so, you look at your strategies different,” O’Dea said.
Now, after 30 years on the job, O’Dea is retiring amidst accusations that he withheld key information after he shot his friend during a hunting trip this past April. According to Harney County Sheriff David Ward, the statement O’Dea gave did not match the series of events described by the victim.
“Based on the interview with the victim, he found out there were conflicting statements, and we determined the incident needed to be further investigated,” Ward told OPB.
The Harney County Sheriff requested the assistance of the Oregon State Police. That agency, along with the Oregon Department of Justice, Portland Police Bureau and Portland Independent Police Review, are all investigating the incident.
Hales expressed his disappointment in the “trial by media” surrounding the shooting investigation saying, “I’ve been very disappointed by the trial by media that’s occurred in Chief O’Dea’s incident. I’ve asked Portlanders to wait for the outcome for the official investigations. I’ll continue to wait on passing judgment until I have all the facts. I am still waiting on the outcome of those investigations, which I expected to be confidential and swift. They’ve been neither.”
Mayor Charlie Hales, who serves as the Portland Police Commissioner, announced O’Dea’s retirement, which effectively is a resignation. “O’Dea recognizes the strain on the bureau and the need to move forward. He’s acting in the best interest of the city,” Hales said.
Hales announced that Portland Police Captain Mike Marshman will be appointed Chief of Police, effectively immediately. “Mike Marshman will bring stability to the bureau,” Hales said. “He’s the right leader for the Portland Police, right now.”
Marshman replaces acting police chief Donna Henderson. The Oregonian reported Monday that Henderson will retire at the end of the week.
Through his lawyer, O’Dea denies any wrongdoing. In a statement to OPB, Derek Ashton said that he was confident the investigation would clear up any accusations of wrongdoing.
“Larry has always placed the security, health and well being of others above himself while focusing on the greater good for the citizens he served and the Portland Police Bureau,” Ashton said. “With those priorities in mind, he has decided to retire.”