When the Portland Police Bureau announced a major shakeup in senior staffing June 21—installing new leadership atop the Transit Division and in East Precinct—one niggling piece of uncertainty was the fate of the senior cop who'd been leading the Transit Division, Commander Mike Crebs.
Crebs, the bureau said, would be helping his replacement get up to speed—but there was no further indication about where he might spend his time. It was an unusual limbo, especially since I was told the haziness about Crebs, or his job switch, wasn't because of a discipline issue.
Clarity arrived this afternoon. The bureau has now announced that Crebs will replace Assistant Chief Eric Hendricks in Police Chief Mike Reese's inner circle.
But it gets more interesting. Crebs is ascendant in part because Hendricks has decided to retire after 27 years with the bureau. Hendricks is stepping down, notably, just more than two weeks after the Oregonian reported he's under investigation on accusations he tried to "unfairly influence a police disciplinary proceeding" on behalf of Captain Mark Kruger, the cop who put up a shrine to Nazi-era German soldiers.
Crebs will take over Hendricks' portfolio overseeing internal affairs, budgeting, records, and the training division. Having Hendricks oversee IA, which handles discipline, might have been problematic given the accusations, lobbed against him by the Portland Police Commanding Officers Association. The mayor's office has opened a human resources investigation.
In a statement announcing the move, Reese praised Hendricks.
"Assistant Chief Hendricks has dedicated his professional career to improving the Portland Police Bureau and public safety during his 27 years of service to our community. I am grateful for his strong leadership and steadfast support as an assistant chief the past three years."
Dana Haynes, spokesman for Mayor Charlie Hales, says Hales "applauds" Crebs' promotion. He also said, in a response to questions whether Hendricks was retiring on his own and not because of the investigation, "to my knowledge, yes."
Asked if Hendricks would face discipline if he hadn't retired, Haynes says, "I believe Human Resources has begun an investigation into the allegations raised by the PPCOA." Sergeant Pete Simpson, a bureau spokesman, says Haynes is correct on all counts. Update 3:45 PM: Haynes says the investigation is still active, after consulting human resources, and Simpson says it will continue if necessary even after Hendricks retires.//end update
The moves mean Crebs is now the third person this year to reign over IA and training—a key post as the bureau fights the Portland Police Association and works with Mayor Charlie Hales' office and the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform over federally mandated police reforms.
Hendricks took the job this year after Mike Kuykendall, Reese's close friend, resigned in a text message scandal that also involved Kruger. Kuykendall and probationary lieutenant, Kristy Galvan, were mocking Kruger over his having been disciplined for his Nazi shrine.
Galvan had accused Kruger of harassing her, after she was assigned to his command, for her part in that investigation. Hendricks is accused of telling Kruger he'd help his case by not showing up at a Police Review Board hearing on Galvan's claims. Kruger was cleared by the city but is now facing a fresh investigation after, the O also reported, he was caught posting the letter exonerating him on his office door. Kruger has since been moved from East Precinct to the Drugs and Vice Division.
Hendricks had been overseeing special units, like drugs and vice and family services and gang enforcement, before Kuykendall stepped down. Reese promoted Commander Donna Henderson to fill behind Hendricks. With Henderson and Crebs newly minted in Reese's inner circle, that leaves Larry O'Dea, in charge of patrol, as the only remaining standby.