politics

New Portland Police Chief Jami Resch Introduces Herself

By Rebecca Ellis (OPB)
Portland, Ore. Jan. 6, 2020 11 p.m.

In the six days since Jami Resch was sworn as Portland's newest police chief, requests for interviews and meetings with the new chief have flooded the bureau.

She’s getting around to them.

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Portland Police Bureau's new police chief, Jami Resch, made her first public remarks Monday, Jan. 6, 2019.

Portland Police Bureau's new police chief, Jami Resch, made her first public remarks Monday, Jan. 6, 2019.

Rebecca Ellis / OPB

“I ask for patience,” Resch told reporters at a Monday press conference. “I am new to this role, and before I can accept some of the invitations already coming from the community, I will need a little time to settle in.

“But I make a pledge that I will try to be out in the community as much as possible."

Portland's new chief was sworn in last Tuesday, just a day after former Chief Danielle Outlaw resigned to become Philadelphia's police commissioner.

Related: New Portland Police Chief Sworn In Amid Stir Over Outlaw's Departure

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In her first public remarks, Resch outlined some of the challenges the Bureau faces. Some issues cropped up recently — like a yet-to-be solved-series of shootings on New Year’s Eve — and some have plagued the bureau for years, such as a critical staffing shortage.

The press conference also gave Resch a chance to get some basic biographical information on the record. She told reporters she’s originally from Montana but grew up around Beaverton and attended Beaverton High School. She graduated from the University of Portland with a bachelor's degree in allied health sciences and a minor in psychology, thinking she’d become a doctor. But in 1999, the Police Bureau was making a big recruiting push to hire 80 officers, known as Operation 80. Resch threw in an application.

“In all honesty, it was something that I did almost to see if I could,” she said. “I had never been on a ride along. I had never shot a gun. I'd never done anything related to police work.”

As Resch recounted, she found her groove, steadily rising through the ranks over the last two decades. Since 2016, she’s moved from lieutenant to captain to assistant chief of the investigations branch. This May, she was named deputy chief.

Related: Danielle Outlaw Is Out As Portland Police Chief

Some have criticized the speed with which Mayor Ted Wheeler decided to promote Resch after Outlaw announced plans to leave. Unlike Wheeler’s search for a police chief in 2016, which took more than two months and involved candidates from across the country, this decision was made in a matter of days.

But Wheeler said Monday that he wanted someone he had a history of working with, and that Resch had proven herself during her short tenure as deputy chief.

He said she has played a significant role in bringing the bureau into compliance with the U.S. Department of Justice settlement agreement regarding the bureau’s treatment of people with mental illness, in the upcoming contract negotiations with the Portland Police Association and in budget discussions.

“I made an executive decision because I've had my eye on Chief Resch for quite some time as the deputy chief,” he said. “I've already developed a working relationship with her. I know what she's capable of.”

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