Portland police Chief Mike Reese announced Tuesday he will retire at the end of the year, and Mayor Charlie Hales has named Assistant Chief of Operations Larry O’Dea to take his place.
Reese didn’t take questions about his decision, but he alluded to two changes that are coming at the police bureau. The first is a major overhaul of the bureau’s use of force and crisis intervention policies under a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. The second is an upcoming police budget that will include staffing changes. Reese says a draft of that budget will come out in January.
“This is a natural time for a transition to a new chief who will oversee the implementation of these changes in the Portland Police Bureau,” Reese said.
Reese said he was proud that during his tenure, the bureau reduced the use of force by its officers, hired more women and minorities, and built a new training center.
Reese led the bureau through a period of public scrutiny and reforms. In 2012, a Department of Justice civil rights investigation found that the police bureau had a pattern of using excessive force against people with mental illness.
He guided the city’s law enforcement strategy during large, sometimes tense demonstrations organized by members of the Occupy Portland movement in 2011.
In a legal settlement approved this summer, the Portland Police Bureau agreed to change its policies, practices, training and supervision. It will fall largely to Reese’s successor, Larry O’Dea, to implement those changes.
O’Dea promised the reforms would move forward in a seamless transition. “I was also a part of the city’s negotiations with the Department of Justice and I fully support achieving the goals in the settlement agreement,” he said.
Reese joined the Bureau in 1994 and was appointed chief by former Mayor Sam Adams in 2010. O’Dea has spent 29 years with the Police Bureau. He says his priorities will include community policing and recruiting more diverse officers and leaders for the bureau.
“Every community member should be able to look at the bureau and see someone who shares their same culture and background,” he said.
The city says this will be the first smooth, planned transition between police chiefs in twenty years.