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Sizer Out, Reese In As Mayor Takes Control Of The PoliceOn the morning of May 12, Mayor Sam Adams held a news conference to announce that he was taking control of the Police Bureau from Commissioner Dan Saltzman, removing Rosie Sizer as Chief, and replacing her with Mike Reese, previously Commander of Central and East Precincts. The move came in response to Sizer's own news conference on May 10 accusing the Mayor of cutting too many police officer jobs in his proposed budget. Significantly, the next day, May 11, when the City announced its settlement with James Chasse, Jr's family over his in-custody death (see article), Sizer strayed from the party line of "putting the incident behind us" and talked about how the officers involved had been "demonized." Hours after he was sworn in, Reese was thrust into the spotlight, appearing on the scene where officers shot and killed Keaton Otis, a young African American man with mental health issues (see article).
Here are some concerns we have about Reese:
1--As Commander of Central Precinct, he oversaw and enthusiastically enforced Sit/Lie law version 3.0.
2--He's in a tight-knit group of city leaders that include Mike Kuykendall of the Portland Business Alliance and Commissioner Randy Leonard. Leonard sang backup for the others as their band "The Usual Suspects" played a benefit concert in late 2009 (PPR #49).
3--Within two hours of being sworn in, he met with the heads of the police unions to open lines of communication (Rap Sheet, May 2010).
On June 17, steering committee members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) Coalition for Justice and Police Reform met with Reese to hear his point of view and convey ideas for change. The AMA Coalition noted that Reese could build credibility in the communities who mistrust the police by making one assistant chief job into a civilian position, and hiring a person of color to fill the role. There are no commanders of color at the level he could promote to Assistant Chief. This move would have been significant after Adams failed to consult the community when he picked Reese.
On the July 14 "consent agenda," an item before City Council passed with no public discussion, making the Assistant Chief of Services into the civilian "Director of Services." On July 15, the news came out that Reese had tapped his buddy, bandmate, and fellow Sit/Lie advocate Kuykendall for the job. In a statement, the AMA Coalition called this move "a slap in the face."
On the bright side, Reese was slightly less defensive of officers involved in the Otis shooting than previous chiefs and incidents, refers to police as "peace officers," and says he wants to hear from the community (where Sizer went so far as to shut down the 20 year old "Chief's Forum"). He told the Police Oversight Stakeholder Committee on July 1, "I'm Mike Reese, and I work for [Portland Copwatch's] Dan Handelman." If only.
While the original changes are a great step in the right direction, they do not go far enough. Nonetheless, they prompted interim Portland Police Association Dave Dobler to complain in the April Rap Sheet that the "union" is worried about contract negotiations, budget cuts, grievances and arbitration, "and now the new IPR ordinance regarding 'police accountability'."
Portland Shootings on the Rise
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through citizen action.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.