Danielle Outlaw, Portlands newly-named police chief. Mayor Ted Wheeler stands behind her.
Danielle Outlaw, Portland's newly-named police chief. Mayor Ted Wheeler stands behind her. Doug Brown

Portland's newly-hired Police Chief Danielle Outlaw made her first public appearance in Portland this afternoon since her hiring was announced on Monday.

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Polyrhythmics with Mesitzo Beat at Aladdin Theater on November 22

Mayor Ted Wheeler introduced her at the press conference, and his office let reporters ask the new chief—who'll start some time before October 2—six questions before shuffling her off to other meetings. It lasted about 17 minutes. Let's take a look at the presser (the people cheering are city/police employees who packed the back of the room, not the media).

1 - MAYOR TED WHEELER'S OPENING STATEMENTS.

1 - Ted Wheeler introduction   ►

"I believe she'll be a strong partner to me, as this community's mayor," Wheeler said. "I believe she'll be strong leader for the Portland Police Bureau. I'm impressed for her passion for this work. I believe that she'll be in it for the long haul."

Wheeler said Outlaw has already met his mayoral staff and PPB assistant chiefs. After the press conference she had plans to meet with police union leaders, the heads of other emergency bureaus, and "some members of the community who are invested in her success." If there's time left over today, she'll meet the rest of Portland City Council.

“I believe the success of the bureau and the success of all of us in this community are tied to Chief Outlaws success," the mayor said. "She has the full backing of my administration. I know that the professionals at the Portland Police Bureau will work hard to help her succeed as the chief of this bureau.”

Other than that, Wheeler pretty much paraphrased his office's press release from Monday.

2 - POLICE CHIEF DANIELLE OUTLAW'S OPENING REMARKS

2 - Danielle Outlaw opening statement   ►

"I'm not here to—I don't want to say reform—I'm here to strength the good work that's already been done (by Portland police officers)," she said. "But, of course, I also have a job to do. I have a job to make sure we hold ourselves accountable, we’re accountable to the community. If there’s any areas of vulnerability or gaps identified, that’s what my job is as a leader to come in and strengthen that, improve that.”

Here's a good portion of what she said when she first took the podium:

A lot of people want to know, why now? Why are you coming to Portland, Danielle? There are a lot of similarities from where I come from and here in Portland….

I’ve been approached by many recruiters over the years asking me to put in for chief's positions. But for me, it’s not about having the title of police chief, it’s about being able to go somewhere and add value to the community, to the organization, and being able to walk away leaving that organization a lot stronger than what it was before.

I’m not here to—I don’t want to say reform—I’m here to strengthen the good work that’s already been done here from the police department and the members of the police department. But, of course, I also have a job to do. I have a job to make sure we hold ourselves accountable, we’re accountable to the community. If there’s any areas of vulnerability or gaps identified, that’s what my job is as a leader—to come in and strengthen that, improve that.

We’re a crime enforcement agency—crime prevention and reduction. It’s also prioritizing our relationships with the community; those that are already there, improving upon those. And it’s making sure the rank-and-file of the police department have what they need, whether that’s training, resources. Just doing what I can as a leader and advocate, making sure our officers are who the need to be as a whole.

3 - QUESTION ABOUT "21ST CENTURY POLICING" AND BEING A "PROGRESSIVE POLICE LEADER"
3 -q1 -21st c policing, progressive leader   ►

Outlaw has been touted as an advocate for "21st-century policing" and has been called "progressive." What does that mean?

It means that as an organization, it’s important to make sure that we’re not only in alignment with best practices, but to raise the bar… Many years ago, we used to ask ‘who else in the country does this?’ We’re being asked to do these things and no one else does it—we don’t have anyone to bench mark against. Once the lightbulb clicked on that you are setting the standard. That really opened us up to being the best agency in the state… We lead and be ahead of what’s already been done…. 21st Century policing is not just doing what everyone else does and best practices, it’s setting the bar and being the best.

4 - QUESTION ABOUT USE-OF-FORCE AND POLICING PORTLAND PROTESTS

4 - q2- protests, use of force   ►

"I just shared a story with command staff here," Outlaw said about protests. "I have a lot of lessons on what not to do. With that said, I come from Oakland and have a lot of experience in dealing with crowd management with these things, what works really well, and, again, what doesn’t work well — how our actions can inflame the situation and what we can do more collaborative. But also having a presence and setting the tone very soon in advance. It’s all about balance."

5 - QUESTION ABOUT THE SECRETIVE HIRING PROCESS

5 - q3 - confidential application   ►

Wheeler's search for knew police chief was wayyyyyyyyyyy more secretive than the mayor and his staff said it would be (see the Portland Tribune story from a little bit ago on that). Back in January, as I noted at the time, Wheeler said there would be public vetting of the final few candidates before a choice was made, saying "There will also be community engagement at the end of the process. When we get down to the top couple of finalists—let’s say three today, as the marker—I’d like to have an opportunity for the public to be able to vet finalists."

However, the public didn't even know Outlaw was even a candidate at all until it was revealed she got the job on Monday—zero public vetting. Why? Because Outlaw said she didn't want the "scrutiny" from the public. The Oakland chief (her boss) knew she was a candidate, she said, but the public didn't because "I didn't want a lot of distractions."

Here's her full answer to the Tribune's Nick Budnick about why she didn't want public vetting:

It was not an attempt on my part to be non-transparent. But for those of us, and a lot of us in the room know this: When you put yourself out there as a chief’s candidate, you’re really exposing yourself to a lot. You’re exposing yourself to scrutiny personally, professionally. Up until a certain point in the process, the expectation is, depending on the agency, that there is some confidentiality.

But, at some point, and I was prepared for this, when the city tells you ‘heads up, we’re going to release your name,’ that’s something we have to prepare for. For me, given that I was still actively working in my current organization, I didn’t want a lot of distractions. My chief was very supportive, she knew what I was doing, but I didn’t need the distraction in my professional life, and I didn’t want my family to be distracted by what was going on here as well.

6 - QUESTION ABOUT BLACK LIVES MATTER

6 - q4 - Black Lives Matter opinion   ►

A reporter asked her how she feels about the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I, whether I agree or disagree, that’s their truth. It can be Black Lives Matter or whomever," Portland's new chief said. "As long as it’s done in a lawful way—no one gets hurt, it’s not violent—people have a right to demonstrate, and have a right to do it in a very peaceful way. Again, our role is to protect First Amendment rights, but we also have a job to do as well."

Here's her full answer:

I value perspective, I value diversity. People come out and they organize, and demonstrate, because there’s something there—in their mind, whatever that is. I, whether I agree or disagree, that’s their truth. It can be Black Lives Matter or whomever.

As long as it’s done in a lawful way—no one gets hurt, it’s not violent—people have a right to demonstrate, and have a right to do it in a very peaceful way. Again, our role is to protect First Amendment rights, but we also have a job to do as well.

I don’t have an opinion, or negative opinion either way, because people come from their places of truth. But at the same time, I think it’s very important as an organization that we be willing to hear things that we might not want to hear. There has to be a checks-and-balances system and that’s the only way we improve as an agency

7 - QUESTION ABOUT ICE COLLABORATION
7 - q5 - ICE collaboration   ►

Willamette Week ran a piece earlier today, titled: "Future Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw Recently Defended an Agreement Between Oakland Police and ICE; Outlaw said the agreement helped cops catch bad guys. Oakland city council said it tarnished public trust in the police."

Many people here are happy about Portland being a "sanctuary city" where the cops aren't supposed to collaborate with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents carrying out President Trump's cruel immigration demands. You should check that WW story out before listening to/reading Outlaw's response. She said the story was, essentially, out of context . She wasn't "defending" collaboration with ICE to Oakland City Council, she said, she was "clarifying" ("HSI" stands for the Homeland Security Investigations branch of ICE):

I didn’t defend the (Memorandum of Understanding with ICE). What I did was clarify our role, our working partnership with HSI operationally. I wanted the people in the room to know exactly what OPD does with HSI. I wanted to be clear that Oakland is also a sanctuary city and that we did not and do not enforce federal immigration laws. That was first and foremost.

But the other part for me was to educate on what exactly we did do. What the MOU did was allow overtime reimbursement and to allow officers to be deputized so we can charge at the federal level. That was it. Quite frankly, we hadn’t done any of that. We hand’t enforce the MOU at all in about a year. But my purpose in stating how we worked with HSI, again, was to make it very clear to those in the room what our relationship was… It was not a defense of the MOU, it was actually a rather neutral statement, and it was done solely to educate.

8 - QUESTION ABOUT BEING AN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN POLICE CHIEF

8 - q6 - being African American   ►

Danielle Outlaw will be the first woman of color to lead the PPB: "First I’d like to say I really hope it was my qualifications that got me here. Actually, I know that’s what got me here. It just so happens to be that I’m an African American female." Here's a good chunk of her response:

Ive been asked that question in a few different ways—“How do you feel about being the first African American female chief?” First I’d like to say I really hope it was my qualifications that got me here. Actually, I know that’s what got me here. It just so happens to be that I’m an African American female.

With that said, I realize that I wear many hats and represent a lot of things to many people. Because of that, there’s an added responsibility and expectation placed on me, and I own that. Whatever I can do within my realm of influence—we don’t all have to look like me in order to achieve the same goal. Anyone standing up here can adhere to the same values. But I understand, because of what I look like and who I am, what the expectations are…

I understand that there’s an expectation there, I think it can be beneficial, but I want people to see for being Danielle and not just the African American female that’s the first in Portland. I’m an outsider, but something about me is that I have no problem with saying “I don’t know what I don’t know.” I’m relying on a lot of men and women in this organization to give me direction and guidance of the lay of the land. Culture doesn’t just happen overnight, and in order to understand any culture you have to find out what it is first.

A lot of this, as soon as I hit the ground, I’ll be learning what exactly makes the Portland Police Bureau the Portland Police Bureau. If the issues within the community are trust and lack of legitimacy, for example if that’s the case, my question is why? I think there’s a lot of thing that can be done by anyone standing up here to improve these relationships, but I also acknowledge that because of who I am, there’s an added expectation. I’m ok with that.

It's expected she'll start some time before October 2.