The Usual Suspects: Mike Reese, far left, and Mike Kuykendall, second from left, in happier times.
Mike Kuykendall, who took over as the Portland Police Bureau's civilian director of services in 2010—overseeing budget matters, but also the division that handles internal officer complaints—has submitted his resignation to Chief Mike Reese over what the chief has called "unprofessional text messages regarding another Bureau member from his personal phone to a subordinate's personal phone."

Sergeant Pete Simpson, bureau spokesman, says the news was "fairly abrupt." Kuykendall has been one of Reese's top guys inside the bureau—and outside of it, playing in the same band as the chief and serving as something of an unofficial political adviser. He was brought in soon after Reese took over in May 2010, after working for the Portland Business Alliance (promoting the unconstitutional sit-lie ordinance) and then previously as a deputy district attorney.

"I accepted his decision to resign because I believe the Police Bureau needs to continuously work to meet the goal of achieving the highest possible level of community trust," Reese said in a bureau statement. "This standard must guide our behavior and decision making processes."

No successor has been named, and Kuykendall will keep working through a "transition" period after someone is hired to replace him. Simpson and Reese both say they can't comment on what led to the resignation, citing an "ongoing internal investigation." A spokesman for Mayor Charlie Hales, who oversees the bureau as police commissioner, also said his boss wouldn't be commenting on the personnel case.

Simpson, when asked, said he didn't know whether Reese learned about Kuykendall's actions personally, or if someone else told him, leading to a discussion with Kuykendall.

In a statement released by the bureau, Kuykendall offered a bit more detail, saying "I deeply regret my actions. I was attempting to use humor to give confidential support to a Bureau member who had come to me with a work-related issue."

The timing is pretty awful for the police bureau for a couple of reasons. The bureau is deeply enmeshed in controversy over Reese's decision to demote a former police captain accused of inappropriately touching subordinaates, among other things, even though the bureau's Police Review Board voted 5-1 to urge that now-Lieutenant Todd Wyatt be fired. Reese had to backtrack on assigning Wyatt to a sex crimes unit—facing heavy criticism from advocates and community members for tolerating Wyatt's actions. Kuykendall is in charge of the bureau's Professional Standards division, which oversees Internal Affairs investigations. Kuykendall also was one of the Police Review Board members considering Wyatt's case, although public reports don't list how members voted.

The bureau also is in the midst of hammering out its budget in a year when all city offices are being asked to identify staggering 10 percent cuts. The budget is Kuykendall's bailiwick. When it comes time to present budget data to city council, he flanks the chief. With good reason. Despite cuts in past years, the bureau hasn't had to lay off cops and has actually been able to add some. The bureau also reopened Southeast Precinct's old building and, very significantly, landed a training facility in Northeast Portland that chiefs and mayors had struggle to identify for decades.

He'll still be around for some of the budget process—there's no timetable just yet for hiring a replacement, Simpson says—but tensions in the chief's office will no doubt be strained.

"I can't say whether it's going to set the budget process back," Simpson says.