Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman will be out of a job soon, as Mayor Ted Wheeler announced today that he's picked Oakland Deputy Chief Danielle Outlaw, 41, to lead the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). Outlaw, a 19-year veteran of the Oakland Police Department, will become Portland's third female and first woman of color to head the PPB.
It's expected she'll start no later than early October.
The move comes after a several months-long national search for a PPB chief, as Wheeler promised during his campaign last year. Marshman, appointed last June by then-Mayor Charlie Hales to replace trigger-happy Larry O'Dea, has been a favorite of the rank-and-file police union and a frequent target of criticism of police reform activists.
"During the selection process, Mayor Wheeler emphasized the qualities he wants in a police chief, based upon the principles of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing," Wheeler's office announced this afternoon. "The Mayor selected Outlaw based on her ability to provide leadership and supervision to over 950 sworn and 270 non-sworn employees, to work effectively with diverse communities, and to lead an organization committed to community policing, transparency and accountability. Wheeler and Outlaw have a shared dedication to improving relationships with Portland’s communities of color, increasing diversity and embracing equity."
The city and Outlaw will hold a press conference on Thursday. In the meantime, Marshman has issued a statement strongly suggesting he'll opt to retire now that his bid to remain as chief has failed.
"It has been an honor to serve as Chief of Police and to serve this community throughout my career," he wrote. "I'm confident that the Portland Police Bureau will continue to be a leader in 21st Century Policing and the community should rest easy knowing they have one of the best police departments in the country."
Wheeler's choice, awaited for weeks, spurred a flurry of reactions from various organizations. The Portland Police Association thanked Marshman—its preferred candidate—for his service.
"He took a department that was in shallow water headed for rocks, turned us around and pointed us to the horizon," PPA President Daryl Turner said in a phone interview. Turner, who was involved in interviewing candidates for chief, declined to share his impressions of Outlaw, saying he'd signed a nondisclosure agreement.
Meanwhile, the activist group Portland's Resistance issued a statement saying it wouldn't push for a recall of Wheeler. The group had threatened to try to toss the mayor from office if he allowed Marshman to continue on.
"We are cautiously optimistic that this hiring will mark a new direction for policing in Portland," the statement says. "We are also proud to have a woman of color as our police chief."
According to a biography provided by Wheeler's office, Outlaw is only the second female deputy chief in the history of the Oakland Police Department, a position she appears to have held since 2013. She first began working at the department while she was still in high school.
Assuming she passes a state police background check, Outlaw will be Portland's fourth woman chief (if you count the interim stint of Donna Henderson last year). More on Outlaw from the release:
Outlaw obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University. She is a graduate of the Police Executive Research Forum Senior Management Institute for Police and the Major Cities Chiefs’ Association Police Executive Leadership Institute. Outlaw is a member of the National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Executives (N.O.B.L.E.).
“My life’s passion is policing. I want to make a positive difference in the lives of my fellow officers and the residents of the community,” said Outlaw. “Portland is an amazing City. I am humbled by the tremendous opportunity in front of me, and am ready to get to get to work.”
The varied reactions to Marshman's ouster speak to a tenure atop the police bureau that saw its share of turbulence. Marshman had barely been sworn in last year when he was forced to acknowledge a 2006 incident in which he grabbed his 16-year-old step-son by the neck and pushed him against a wall. The admission rankled many, and has been cited frequently in recent days as a reason Marshman should not be picked.
More pressing, though, have been police responses to protests that have unfolded since Donald Trump was elected president. Rioting broke out shortly after election day, when police had used a light tough on demonstrators marching through the street. That resulted in a revamped strategy that many believe has been too forceful.