Deputy Chief Chris Davis speaking at a press conference in April 2021.
Deputy Chief Chris Davis speaking at a press conference in April 2021. Portland Police Bureau

Portland Police Bureau's (PPB) leadership team is headed for a shakeup.

By the end of August, Chief Chuck Lovell's second in command, Deputy Chief Chris Davis, will depart the bureau to lead the police department of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

"Green Bay is an amazing community served by a great police department, and my family and I are excited to make it our new home," Davis told the Green Bay Press Gazette.

Davis has spent the past 22 years with PPB, serving many roles within the bureau's management team. Davis was appointed to serve as deputy chief under former Chief Jami Resch in early 2020, and he remained in that position after Resch stepped down in early June 2020 and asked Lovell to replace her in the midst of the city's racial justice protests.

Davis has been front-and-center in the past year of protests, gun violence concerns, officer shootings, PPB budget debates, and other policing issues, often serving as the bureau spokesperson at press events and public meetings. He condemned Minneapolis officers' killing of George Floyd days after Floyd's death, and later advocated for the use of tear gas against Portland protesters.

Davis' Portland history appears to have some Green Bay residents on edge. In the Green Bay Press Gazette story announcing Davis' hire, Rod Goldhahn, the leader of the local Police and Fire Commission who selected Davis for the job, stressed that Davis wasn't representative of the liberal city he is departing from.

"We're not hiring the City of Portland," said Goldhahn. "We're hiring Chris Davis."

According to City Hall staff, whose job has them working closely with Davis, his departure will leave a void in PPB leadership during a critical time. Several current and past staffers told the Mercury that Davis' departure will likely reveal how much Lovell leans on Davis to lead.

Davis' departure will also give Lovell an opportunity to reconfigure his leadership team. The first question facing Lovell: Does he want a deputy chief?

The idea of a deputy chief within PPB is relatively new—it was introduced to the bureau by Chief Danielle Outlaw when she appointed PPB captain Bob Day to the position in 2018. Prior to Outlaw's reign, Portland police chiefs simply had a staff of assistant chiefs working below them to manage bureau departments. While PPB still has three assistant chiefs (one is former chief Resch), PPB's organizational chart places them under the leadership of the deputy chief.

It's not yet clear if Lovell will replace Davis, or use his leaving as a moment to retire the deputy chief's position. It could serve as a tool to reduce budget costs: Davis' salary for the PPB's 2021-22 budget was $185,557.

In an email to the Mercury, PPB spokesperson Kevin Allen hinted that Lovell will be replacing Davis, noting that Lovell will use the weeks until Davis' late August departure "to consider who might succeed him."

It's not obvious who Lovell could pick to fill Davis' role. Currently, PPB's assistant chiefs include Resch, who oversees PPB's investigations division; Mike Leasure, in charge of operations; and Mike Frome, who heads the bureau's services division. All three have worked at the bureau for more than 20 years.

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Davis' departure comes at the heels of a year marked by more than one hundred resignations and retirements by PPB officers and command staff. He's also not the first in the chief's office to leave for a chief position in another city in the past year: In June 2020, former assistant chief Ryan Lee left PPB to serve as the City of Boise's police chief.

Elliott Young, whose work serving as co-chair of the Portland Committee on Community Engaged Policing (PCCEP) has him regularly interacting with Davis, said this wave of departures gives PPB a chance to "rethink their role in the city."

"The departure of veteran officers is a loss of institutional memory, but perhaps also an opportunity to transform the culture of a bureau in crisis," said Young.