Adams takes over police bureau, Sizer out, Reese is new chief

Adams takes over police bureau, Sizer out, Reese is new chief »Play Video
Mayor Adams, left, speaks at a press conference while new police chief Mike Reese looks on. Photo by Mike Ranweiler.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Following a tumultuous week that included a seven-figure payment to the family of a man who died in Portland Police custody and a roiling battle over budget cuts, Mayor Sam Adams took control of the police department, "parting ways" with Chief Rosie Sizer and appointing veteran officer Mike Reese as the new chief.

In a statement sent to KATU Wednesday afternoon, Adams said the following: "This afternoon I submitted with the council clerk an executive order reassigning oversight of the Police Bureau to my office, effective immediately. This morning, I accepted the resignation of Rosie Sizer as Police Chief, effective immediately."

Adams cited communications problems and budget issues as part of his reason for placing the department under his direct authority. The department had been part of Commissioner Saltzman's duties.

Saltzman said his job was to serve the mayor and Adams commended Saltzman on his accomplishments while overseeing the bureau.

The department has been reeling as of late following a spate of fatal shooting incidents, one involving an unarmed man that sparked repeated protests. Officers involved in the cases were found to have acted within training guidelines and did not face any charges.

Recently, Sizer was rumored to be battling with Adams over proposed cuts to the department. Adams said that there had been communications problems between his office and the department.

During the news conference, Adams said he believed the 1,200-member police force "had the potential" to be the best police force in the country. He said officers' jobs were "remarkably difficult" and lamented the fact that officers had to take on more social service duties on call and that the situation would likely not improve soon due to expected cuts in services.

Adams said he wanted to take the Portland Police Bureau in "a new and different direction” before introducing Reese, who formerly worked as the East Precinct commander.

Reese formerly served with the Transit Division and the North Precinct before joining the bureau's SERT response unit. He began his law enforcement career as a Multnomah Country Sheriff's Deputy in 1989.

Sizer headed up the department for the last four years. During that time, the death of James Chasse in 2006 has dogged the bureau. Chasse, who had mental health issues, died while in custody after being tackled by an officer.

Sizer said she will retire in July and use her accumulated vacation time until then. Sizer had announced earlier that she planned to retire.

Sizer was the second woman to lead the Portland police force. Penny Harrington was the first woman to lead a major metropolitan police bureau when she was appointed in 1985.

All told, Portland agencies and an ambulance service have paid over $3.6 million to the Chasse family. Officers involved in the case were not found guilty of any wrongdoing.

Recently, two high-profile fatal police shootings have prompted calls of police brutality, but officers in each case were cleared of any wrongdoing after extensive reviews.

One man, Aaron Campbell, was killed after he was shot in the back by an officer who claimed he believed Campbell was reaching for a weapon and was about to take cover behind a car. Campbell turned out to be unarmed.

The incident prompted multiple street demonstrations and calls for reforms in the bureau.