Sam Adams fires police Chief Rosie Sizer, names Mike Reese to the job
By The Oregonian
May 12, 2010, 12:50PM
Mike Reese has been appointed chief of the Portland Police Bureau by Mayor Sam Adams today.
The last two decades of Portland police chiefs
Adams also took control of the Portland Police Bureau from Commissioner Dan Saltzman. The mayor said he wants to take the Portland Police Bureau in "a new and different direction."
He said the relationship between the police and the city of Portland "is not what it should be."
Adams also said Chief Rosie Sizer's reforms came "in reaction and after failures in the bureau."
Today's announcement follows a tumultuous week, with the mayor and the chief publicly quarreling over the bureau's budget on Monday followed the next day by an announcement that the city had agreed to pay James Chasse's family a record $1.6 million to settle their wrongful death suit against Portland police.
After Saltzman announced the settlement on Tuesday, Adams issued a press release saying it closed "a very troubling relationship" between the Police Bureau and city residents, but that "we need to be more proactive in making additional improvements."
The bureau has been harshly criticized for taking so long to complete an internal investigation of Chasse's death in custody which occurred five months after Sizer became chief.
» The Oregonian's columnist Anna Griffin offers her views on Rosie Sizer's firing.
Sizer reacted to the settlement Tuesday, saying in a statement that she felt horrible about Chasse's death and that the Chasse family deserved compensation. But Sizer also said she's been frustrated because she hasn't been able to speak publicly about the Chasse case due to the lawsuit. On Tuesday, she said the Police Bureau and officers involved had been "unfairly demonized" and called Chasse's death a "horrible accident and not a beating death."
Three officers arrested Chasse, 42, in the Pearl District after one of the officers said Chasse appeared to be urinating in the street. They chased him, knocked him to the ground and struggled to handcuff him.
Medics did not take him to a hospital, saying Chasse's vital signs were normal. But jail staff refused to book him because of his physical condition. Chasse died while being taken to the hospital in a police car. The medical examiner said he died of broad-based blunt-force trauma to the chest. An autopsy revealed that he had 26 breaks to 16 ribs, some of which punctured a lung.
Saltzman said Tuesday that he hoped with the settlement that the city can "begin to heal."
Moving the Police Bureau to the mayor's portfolio is "a permanent reassignment to the mayor's office."
Today on the way to the news conference, Saltzman said he had enjoyed being police commissioner, "but I serve at the pleasure of the mayor."
"I think this is a good time to make this change," Adams said.
Asked if he was disappointed in Saltzman, Adams cited three historic changes under Saltzman:
Inviting federal officials to investigate bias.
Strengthening independent oversight of the bureau.
Staffing up despite budget woes.
The public dispute over the budget highlighted a widening gap between the bureau and mayor.
Sizer held a press conference Monday to blast Adam's proposed budget, saying it would result in the loss of 25 sworn officers and 12 non-sworn officers July 1, when the new fiscal year begins. Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman quickly sided with Sizer, saying he would not vote for the mayor's budget.
Adams said that Sizer had blindsided him with the press conference, saying she and her commanders had given him misleading information.
Sizer said Tuesday that she had kept Adams informed and did not know how he would avoid layoffs and still trim the bureau's budget by $5 million.
After taking office last year, Adams became the rare mayor to hand day-to-day oversight of the city's largest and most complicated bureau to another commissioner, Saltzman. Adams also has kept a low profile on recent police shootings, leaving Saltzman to shoulder public anger.
Sizer joined the Portland Police Bureau in 1985 and was Portland's second female chief after Penny Harrington, who served from 1985-86.
Sizer was appointed acting chief by Mayor Tom Potter in April 2006 and sworn in as chief three months later, replacing Derrick Foxworth who was removed after his sexually explicit e-mails to a police desk clerk became public.
-- The Oregonian