The Portland Police Bureau’s new chief, Chuck Lovell, was sworn in Thursday morning.
Lovell addressed local journalists in a media briefing, alluding to some of the changes he’d like to see in the bureau going forward.
“I have some ideas and thoughts of things I would like to see be different,” Lovell said. “But, I think right now, we’re really at a place where we need to hear from community. We need to really come alongside each other and talk about what things make sense.”
He continued: “In a very general sense, I believe that community policing, which really started here in Portland, it’s time for it to come back in a way where people in their communities know their police officer, where an officer has accountability to a community because they have to show up every day.”
Less than a week into his new position, since former Chief Jami Resch resigned Monday, Lovell has taken over the bureau's top position during massive demonstrations in Portland demanding changes to policing.
Some of those changes have already began. Last week, Portland Public Schools announced it would end its contract with PPB for school resource officers in its buildings. Shortly after that announcement, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he was ending the school resource officer program in three city districts.
Wheeler also announced Tuesday the elimination of two specialty PPB units — the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which investigates shootings, and the Transit Division, which provides law enforcement for the region's public transportation agency, TriMet. Both units have been criticized for disproportionately targeting people of color.
Lovell said Thursday that officers with the Gun Violence Reduction Team will be reassigned in the bureau.
“The calls that they go on will still need to be answered, and we’ll have to figure out internally the best way to manage those calls for service going forward,” Lovell said.
Lovell also discussed the idea of defunding police forces around the country, something that many Portlanders have called for. Wheeler announced earlier this week that he would be directing $7 million from PPB to communities of color.
Lovell said he expects Portland City Council’s vote Thursday afternoon on the city budget to be impactful to PPB in some form and that he has been advocating for the police bureau.
“I don’t think any police chief wants the police defunded,” Lovell said. “The citizens of Portland, citizens of cities and towns and counties throughout the country need police services. There are things that happen that need to get responded to and investigated. Crime doesn’t stop because of a pandemic or mass protests.”
He added: “At the end of the day, people need good police service, and I think that’s what the real call is for — police service that is just and meets the needs and expectations of the community.”
Lovell said he hasn’t had a chance to have an in-depth conversation with Wheeler yet, but he expects to do so soon.
“I do know he wants a Portland Police Bureau that is aligned with serving the public,” Lovell said of Wheeler. “He believes in the city. He believes in this police bureau.”