The president of the Portland Police Association, the union representing rank and file officers, unexpectedly resigned Tuesday citing “a serious, isolated mistake related to the Police Bureau’s investigation into the alleged hit-and-run by Commissioner (Jo Ann) Hardesty.”
Hardesty was briefly implicated in the March 3 collision after a caller mistakenly identified the city commissioner as the driver of a vehicle that hit her. A Portland Police Bureau officer leaked the information to conservative media outlets and the Oregonian/OregonLive.
Hardesty was swiftly cleared in the investigation, but the leak prompted Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to launch an investigation into its origins.
PPA’s press release didn’t clarify what former President Brian Hunzeker’s mistake was but said that it was not driven by malice.
“He has held himself to account by resigning his position as PPA President effective immediately,” the statement reads. “The PPA’s Executive Board has accepted his resignation.”
In a statement, Wheeler said he appreciated the call for accountability but expressed alarm at a lack of specifics surrounding Hunzeker’s resignation.
“While I appreciate Mr. Hunzeker’s self-described act of accountability, I demand he give a full and transparent accounting of what he did and what his motivations were to Commissioner Hardesty and the public,” Wheeler said. “I call on him to do so immediately.”
The officers union has appointed Hunzeker’s predecessor, the recently retired Daryl Turner, as his temporary replacement.
Turner could not offer specifics of what mistakes Hunzeker made that prompted his resignation.
“It’s an ongoing investigation and we can’t talk about it,” Turner said.
Hunzeker has only been on the job for five months. His resignation comes at an inopportune time for the police union, as he has been a regular presence at union contract negotiations with the city. Those negotiations brought the union and Hunzeker into direct opposition with Hardesty over the new independent police oversight board passed by voters in November — a measure Hardesty sponsored.
The police bureau did not announce any discipline against Hunzeker on Tuesday.
“Officer Hunzeker remains an employee of the Portland Police Bureau, and will receive an assignment within the bureau to be determined,” the bureau said in a statement.
Hardesty said she learned of the resignation from the PPA press release and that she doesn’t know any more details.
“I do know that Mayor Wheeler and I agreed that the scope of the impending outside investigation into the Portland Police Bureau will not only get to the bottom of this specific politically motivated leak but will also look into potential political and racial bias, as well as potential ties to white supremacists within the Portland Police Bureau,” Hardesty wrote in a statement.