On Friday, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) announced that the city had hired its first "Civilian Dean of Training"—a position laid out as a requirement in the city's settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Days later, PPB has announced that they've rescinded the job offer to their new hire, former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Sgt. Thomas Datro.
PPB offered no explanation about the decision, announced Wednesday afternoon, only noting that: "The recruitment process will restart as soon as possible."
Attorneys with the DOJ first proposed the city hire a training dean in 2021, after the feds discovered the city had fallen out of compliance with the settlement agreement both parties had made in 2014 to mend Portland cops' use of force problems. That agreement required the city to meet certain criteria regarding police training, use-of-force policies, and accountability measures, all which were seemingly violated during PPB's response to racial justice protests in 2020. DOJ attorneys then laid out a plan for the city to return to the feds' good graces, including that the city "appoint a qualified civilian head over PPB’s Training Division to ensure consistent and appropriate training."
After a months-long process, the city's hiring panel selected Datro, a longtime police sergeant with a leadership role in LAPD's training division. Datro also hosts a podcast called "Policing in America", which touts the benefits of "broken windows policing" and questions the benefits of police reform.
In a statement published with the previous news of Datro's hire, Mayor Ted Wheeler said, "Dr. Datro’s experience in the field of law enforcement training and his commitment to community engagement will enhance our ongoing efforts to reform the system by increasing accountability and transparency in community safety."
The city announced Datro's hire Friday before running a background check on him. It's not clear if it was a faulty background check that led to his offer being rescinded.
Datro was selected out of a slate of 18 candidates. According to a PPB spokesperson, the city won't be reconsidering past applicants to fill Datro's spot, and instead will be starting the hiring process anew.