By Officer Daryl Turner - Drugs and Vice Division
Kroeker couldn't escape black cloud overhead
The inevitable has come to pass. On August 29th, Chief Mark Kroeker submitted his letter of resignation to Mayor Vera Katz. Chief Kroeker will be officially leaving the Bureau on October 17th. However, I doubt there will be very many sightings of him since Derrick Foxworth has been named the new Chief of the Portland Police Bureau.
Chief Kroeker came to the Portland Police Bureau on the hopes of making a difference and to change things for the everyday-working cop. He wanted us to have the best working environment possible, the best equipment possible and the best staffing possible. Chief Kroeker wanted the Portland Police Bureau's trademark to be honesty, integrity and professionalism. His first act that I can remember was to redefine the grooming standards of the Bureau and to have them enforced. Many people grumbled about the change but for most it didn't change much. I myself didn't really care one way or another, but it showed that Chief Kroeker was willing to make changes, many of which were needed.
Then came May Day 2000. Protestors got out of hand and were dealt with by Portland cops who were basically told not to let anyone break the law. Protestors were sure that the new chief was more on line with the thinking of Mayor Katz and they were very wrong! Chief Kroeker stood by his troops when protestors who cried police brutality criticized them. He told them "they'd better get used to it."
When the Mayor turned her back on Chief Kroeker and the cops in the Bureau after the protest, Mark Kroeker got a small taste of the worm in the middle of the apple that he had bitten into. Incident after incident the Mayor, media and a small population of citizens maligned the Portland Police Bureau's chief and cops.
Then someone who really had it in for Chief Kroeker somehow came up with audiotapes of Chief Kroeker when he was at a speaking engagement ten years ago. The tapes had him stating his beliefs on homosexuality and on the roles of men and women in a marriage. Chief Kroeker's statements were controversial at best and they angered the gay and heterosexual community in Portland and on the Police Bureau.
Chief Kroeker met with the Mayor, gay and lesbian community groups and gay and lesbian officers to explain his feelings and to express his regret for how the tapes were presented. By this time, Mark Kroeker was living under a dark cloud named Vera Katz and he couldn't get from under it, no matter what he did! But there were also leaks from the Chief's office to the Mayor's office, and to the media. I'm not one to point the finger of conspiracy, but somehow the Mayor was informed of the Chief's every move.
The final straw was the Kendra James incident with the use of deadly force by Scott McCollister. Stories fueled by the media had the community and its leaders calling for Chief Kroeker's head, along with Scott McCollister's. The Mayor made it no secret that she wanted Scott McCollister fired as she sided with a portion of the vocal community. Chief Kroeker attempted to do what he thought was fair by suspending Officer McCollister for an unprecedented 900 hours.
Although the Chief said there wasn't any political motivation, he could not narrow down any laws, policies, or procedures that McCollister violated. The Chief didn't want Scott McCollister fired. However, he felt that the lengthy suspension would satisfy everyone.
Chief Kroeker inherited problems that he did not cause and he sought to correct them as best he could. The pressure put on him by Mayor Katz would be unbearable for most people. However, Mark Kroeker stood up to the pressure because in his heart the cops working for him were more important than his ego.
Chief Kroeker didn't go to the media pounding his chest with his fists when he changed policies or fixed something that needed fixing. He quietly did his job and looked for nothing from the Mayor except the opportunity to run the Portland Police Bureau his way. Chief Kroeker was dedicated to rewarding his officers and supervisors to show that their hard work did not go unnoticed!
Sure, Chief Kroeker made some unpopular decisions and sure many of us didn't agree with the harshness with which he dealt Scott McCollister's punishment. But what chief have we had that hasn't made unpopular decisions from time to time?
The bottom line is that Mark Kroeker is a hard working, honest, intelligent person who cares about his cops, and always stood up when he made a decision and never pointed the finger of blame at anyone else. He knew you couldn't keep everyone happy, even half of the time, but he did what he thought was right. Whatever the Mayor's story is about how things panned out in forcing the Chief's hand to resign, it is obvious that she lacks the integrity, honesty and class that Mark Kroeker has and if she did send her cronies to tell the Chief to step down, then she is in fact a coward in every sense of the word.
Mark Kroeker could have taken other jobs when Mayor Katz asked him to become Chief of Police here in Portland. Even with all the Mayor has put him through, he still did the honorable thing and never outwardly bad mouthed the Mayor. To the new Chief, Derrick Foxworth, who I'm sure will do a good job, just remember under what circumstances that the last two chiefs left Portland. Because Mayor Katz is still the boss for the next year or so.
October 2003 - Vol 34 No. 10