Hours before Police Chief Mike Reese put the finishing touches on a sprawling command structure shift spurred by high-level retirements, moves made unbeknownst to reporters at the time, the clear sense of change in the air somehow sparked a rumor that it was Reese himself who was being replaced, asked by Mayor Charlie Hales to step down.
That wasn't true. Reese and Hales were instead working on a shuffle, released this morning, that installed new leadership atop East Precinct, the transit police division, family services, and drugs and vice (while also affecting the city's work with the feds on mental health and use of force reforms). But phones blew up in both official's offices, and elsewhere, as word leaked to reporters.
"It didn't happen. It's not going to happen," Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes, told me yesterday.
Sergeant Pete Simpson, Reese's spokesman, quickly replied that it was "untrue." And the Mercury even reached out to Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner, who called the rumor a potential "hoax" and said he'd met with the chief not long before the rumor emerged.
So who started it? Simpson said he "wouldn't begin to know." But Haynes had some thoughts: "I think I know who's spreading it around. It's after-action by a union trying to get a little traction."
He didn't say which union. Besides the PPA, the Portland Police Commanding Officers Association and AFSCME also represent police bureau employees. (Though, the city is trying to decertify the PPCOA—angering city unions in the process).
Not that the rumor should overshadow the actual changes, which Reese made in close consultation with the mayor, say both Haynes and Simpson.
Sara Westbrook, a captain at Central Precinct who ran the bureau's new Behavioral Health Unit (a federally inspired reform) and worked on crowd control, will be promoted to commander of the city's massive East Precinct. Where she won't have to work with controversial Nazi Germany army enthusiast Captain Mark Kruger, who is moving from East under a bit of a cloud to lead the Drugs and Vice Division. Kruger, exonerated on a harassment charge, is under investigation again for posting the letter on his door.
"Certainly there is an ongoing investigation with respect to Captain Kruger," Simpson says. "But the moves themselves are just for the needs of the bureau. There's not a disciplinary factor to any of them."
A detailed release explaining the changes is after the cut. Simpson says he doesn't think the turnover will affect planning on federal reforms, which is in a "lull" while a federal judge referees between the city and the PPA.
Today, Thursday June 20, 2013, Chief Mike Reese announced several upcoming command changes to the Portland Police Bureau. These command promotions and changes follow two retirements in the Bureau. East Precinct Commander Mike Lee is retiring after 22 years of service and Tactical Operations Division Captain Ron Alexander is retiring after 19 years of service.
Promotions include the following personnel:
Captain Sara Westbrook, currently assigned to Central Precinct, will be promoted to Commander and assigned to East Precinct. Captain Westbrook is a 27-year-veteran of law enforcement, 19 with the Portland Police Bureau and eight with Thurston County and Tumwater (WA) Police Departments. Captain Westbrook was instrumental in creating and commanding the new Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) for the Portland Police Bureau. Captain Westbrook has also been on the Board of Directors for JOIN for more than three years.
Captain Kevin Modica, currently assigned to the Family Services Division, will be promoted to Commander and assigned to the Transit Police Division. Captain Modica is a 31-year law enforcement veteran, 27 with the Portland Police Bureau. Prior to joining the Bureau, Captain Modica spent four years as a Deputy with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.
Captain Modica has previously served in the Youth Services Division, Personnel, the Tactical Operations Division, Gang Enforcement, the Portland Office of Emergency Management, Detectives and the Gang Resistance Education and Training Program (GREAT). Captain Modica is on the National Policy Board for GREAT, is a Fellow candidate at the Georgetown University Juvenile Crime Prevention Institute, attended the JFK School of Government for Crisis Management, the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University, and is an instructor at the Oregon Department of Safety Standards and Training (DPSST).
Captain Modica has received many awards including the Dennis Darden Officer of the Year Awards, two Distinguished Service Medals, and the MLK Lifetime Achievement Award. Captain Modica is also a member in good standing in the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE). Captain Modica is a high school and AAU girls basketball coach at Riverdale High School. Captain Modica has three daughters: Lauren, 30, is an actress in Portland; Rachel, 27, is a teacher in New York; and, Naomi, 23, recently graduated from the University of Oregon.
Current Transit Police Division Commander Mike Crebs will remain in place to assist Captain Modica during a brief transitional period, due to the complexities of managing the multi-agency Transit Police Division.
Other personnel moves include:
Captain Pat Walsh will transfer from the Chief's Office/DOJ Compliance Coordinator to the Tactical Operations Division.
Captain Mark Kruger will transfer from East Precinct to the Drugs and Vice Division.
Captain Ed Hamann will transfer from the Drugs and Vice Division to the Family Services Division.
Captain Dave Hendrie will transfer from the Traffic Division to East Precinct.
Captain positions in the Traffic Division, Central Precinct and the DOJ Compliance Coordinator will be filled at a later time.
"We are fortunate to have such strong leadership in the Police Bureau and I anticipate a smooth transition as these moves occur," said Chief Mike Reese. "I want to thank Commander Mike Lee and Captain Ron Alexander for their years of service and commitment to the community."