Police Chief Mike Reese has announced his impending retirement from the Portland Police Bureau this morning—an unsurprising development for city hall watchers who'd been waiting for such a decision after a federal judge this summer finally approved a package of police reforms between the city and the US Department of Justice.

Reese, who's led the bureau for a little more than four years, making him one of the longer-tenured chiefs in recent history, will be succeeded for the time being by one of his longest-tenured assistant chiefs, Larry O'Dea. Reese will serve through the end of this year.

All three—Hales, Reese, and O'Dea—will appear at a press conference at noon. An announcement from the mayor's office has touted the "smooth transition" as the city's first in two decades.

“Larry O’Dea is one of the most decorated officers in the bureau—11 medals and 75 letters of commendation,” Hales wrote in a letter to city employees this morning. “He shares my goals and aspirations. He has been living the idea of community engagement. He has led the bureau’s equity work. He has the respect of the command staff, the rank-and-file, and the community. He is the right leader at the right time.”

Much of an announcement from the mayor's office praises Reese's implementation of the DOJ reforms, which have included a new emphasis on de-escalation and changes in the bureau's use of force policies. Reese was praised for increasing diversity hiring. He's also worked in recent years to beef up the bureau's data analysis capacity. Reese also stood firm in the Aaron Campbell shooting, firing Officer Ron Frashour for firing the shots that killed Campbell and defending his stance in an arbitration hearing the city ultimately lost.

But Reese also presided over several personnel and harassment scandals involving high-ranking officers, including the long saga over Captain Mark Kruger, which culminated in a legal deal that wiped away Kruger's discipline for a shrine to Nazi-era German soldiers. Kruger also saw police discipline wiped away in a retaliation case that saw him try to shame an officer who'd complained to the bureau about harassment. Kruger was cleared, but posted the letter saying so on his door. Reese's office, according to an investigation, initially tried to bury the retaliation claims until a whistleblower leaked it to the Independent Police Review in the city auditor's office.

Reese also once flirted with running for political office, considering a mayoral run, even opening a campaign account. That would have made him an opponent of Hales, who became his boss. Reese pulled out before ever really diving in, shortly after he was accused of exaggerating a slow response to a rape claim by his officers to discredit the Occupy Portland movement.

“I thank Mike Reese for his leadership and his service,” said Hales, who signed off on the Kruger deal while claiming he never saw it. “Mike saw us through the investigation and settlement with the DOJ. This was a key milestone for our city and the community’s relationship with the bureau.”

Going with O'Dea means Hales will depart from past practice with senior management openings by hiring from within absent a lengthy national search. His announcement lists the following priorities for O'Dea, who is now Hales' chief.

● Expanding community engagement. That includes the walking beats re-introduced this year.

● Focusing on equity and diversity issues, including training for officers and continued recruitment of a more representative workforce.

● Critiquing the Police Bureau’s budget, ensuring taxpayers’ dollars are used wisely.

● Implementing the DOJ settlement on schedule.

“My four primary focus areas are: Community trust and relationship building; diversifying the bureau and bureau leadership; communications and collaboration; and being fiscally smart and responsible,” O’Dea said. “I am so excited about the direction we’re moving,” he added. “You can see it in the command staff and in the rank-and-file. It’s about relationships with the community. It’s not about the number of arrests; it’s about working on the things that are important to the community.”

Read the full statement after the jump.

Chief Mike Reese today announced his plans for retirement from the Portland Police Bureau. Mayor Charlie Hales has named his replacement: Assistant Chief Larry O’Dea.

“Larry O’Dea is one of the most decorated officers in the bureau — 11 medals and 75 letters of commendation,” Hales said. “He shares my goals and aspirations. He has been living the idea of community engagement. He has led the bureau’s equity work. He has the respect of the command staff, the rank-and-file, and the community. He is the right leader at the right time.”

Hales, O’Dea and Reese today will host a press conference about the transition, which is planned
for January 2015. It will be the first smooth transition between chiefs in two decades.

The mayor praised Reese’s tenure as chief, citing not only the U.S. Department of Justice settlement, but also the opening last month of the most complete law enforcement training facility in the region. Under Reese’s leadership, the bureau instituted new discipline guidelines, new training procedures, and has hired a more diverse set of new officers in recent recruitments.

“I thank Mike Reese for his leadership and his service,” Hales said. “Mike saw us through the investigation and settlement with the DOJ. This was a key milestone for our city and the community’s relationship with the bureau.”

Reese joined the bureau in 1994 and served as a sergeant, lieutenant, captain and commander. A
native Portlander and graduate of Roosevelt High School, he has served as chief since May 2010. O’Dea will immediately begin leading strategic planning that has long-term impacts for the bureau, including the DOJ settlement implementation, budget, staffing study, promotions, and transition to a new records management system.

O’Dea has served with Portland Police since 1986. He has been a uniformed patrol officer, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain. He has served as assistant chief of services and assistant chief of operations.

He has an executive certificate from the Mark Hatfield School of Government at PSU; a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Portland State University; and an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Portland Community College.

“We have made important strides in diversifying the bureau, in hiring, in training, in discipline guidelines, in de-escalation,” Hales said. “And with Mike taking a well-earned retirement, Larry O’Dea is exactly the right person to handle the big challenges ahead.”

Hales said his priorities for the next chief will include:

● Expanding community engagement. That includes the walking beats re-introduced this year.

● Focusing on equity and diversity issues, including training for officers and continued recruitment of a more representative workforce.

● Critiquing the Police Bureau’s budget, ensuring taxpayers’ dollars are used wisely.

● Implementing the DOJ settlement on schedule.

Among the DOJ settlement’s requirements are consistent leadership and smooth transitions between chiefs. O’Dea participated in all aspects of the DOJ discussions, and understands the nuances of the complex agreement.

O’Dea said he is honored to accept the position of police chief.

“My four primary focus areas are: Community trust and relationship building; diversifying the bureau and bureau leadership; communications and collaboration; and being fiscally smart and responsible,” O’Dea said.

“I am so excited about the direction we’re moving,” he added. “You can see it in the command staff and in the rank-and-file. It’s about relationships with the community. It’s not about the number of arrests; it’s about working on the things that are important to the community.”