I was on the verge of cutting my impending vacation short, so as not to miss Commissioner Randy Leonard's upcoming report on the state of Portland's police bureau. The report was due to Mayor-elect Sam Adams on September 9—right in the middle of my two weeks sojourn. (Great timing, guys!)
Given Leonard's recent power scuffles with Police Chief Rosie Sizer—and his potential takeover of the bureau under Adams' mayoral tenure—the report was no doubt going to be a doozy.
Lucky for me, Leonard sent out a draft of the report on August 28, following records requests from this paper and others. (The more likely motivation for releasing a draft, however, was to pressure Mayor Tom Potter and Sizer to comment on the damn thing ASAP, so Leonard can get to work on the final version. Mission accomplished: Just hours after Leonard released the draft, Potter released his comments.)
And as "dooziness" goes, the report did not disappoint. Though Leonard starts off on the right foot, lauding Portland's cops as being "among the most professional, creative, and progressive police officers employed by any city in the United States," he quickly digs into management and leadership issues that he says are squashing morale at the bureau.
The 16-page report details things like the "diluted" vision of community policing, "poor internal communication" that "[results] in a decision making process that lacks street officer input," and an "almost exclusively reactive" media relations and public outreach strategy.
He also tackled problems with "minority community engagement" and racial profiling—two areas the department needs to take more seriously. Leonard notes that while not everyone agrees that racial profiling exists, "even the perception of racial profiling is a problem for the City."
In closing, Leonard sums it up: "In my view, if the management of the Police Bureau addresses internal issues such as low morale, lack of internal coordination, outdated hiring processes, poor communication, and inflexible budget development and execution, then the Police Bureau's ability to combat external challenges such as increased gang activity, drug-related crimes, and prostitution will improve."
Potter, not surprisingly, stood up for Sizer, and attacked Leonard's report. "Overall, I am concerned with the tone and depth of any report that makes such sweeping statements about a number of important issues, including such difficult-to-quantify issues as morale."
Given the mayor's intense comments, Adams has extended Leonard's final due date—until, thankfully, after I return from vacation. See ya in a few weeks.