Portland has new African-American police chief
After just six months on the job, Portland Police Bureau Chief Jami Resch has stepped aside, allowing Lt. Chuck Lovell, an African-American man, to be appointed to the top position on the force as the city faces ongoing protests over police brutality.
"I have asked Chuck Lovell to step into the role as chief of the Police Bureau. He's the exact right person at the exact right moment,'' Resch said.
Resch was appointed to replace Chief Danielle Outlaw, the bureau's first female African-American chief, who unexpectedly resigned to become the Philadelphia police chief in December 2019.
Resch's announcement came during Mayor Ted Wheeler's noon Monday press conference, which happened following 10 straight nights of protests spurred by the death of George Floyd and a weekend that saw nearly 100 arrests near the Justice Center.
"When your boss comes to you and says the community needs you, I felt like if I in some small way, could be the start for some community healing, it was my duty to do that," Lovell said.
Most recently, Lovell was head the a new Community Services Division. He was also in the upper command as Outlaw's former executive assistant.
Portland Police Association President praised Resch for her decision and said the union looks forwrd to working with Lovell.
Wheeler also said he will release a list of further reforms tomorrow.
Resch, who will remain with the bureau, said the idea of stepping aside was hers. Resch, who has been with the bureau for 20 years, said she has followed Lovell's career and believes he is the chief Portland needs to enact changes the community wants and needs.
Lovell said he was surprised when Resch talked to him about becoming chief yesterday. He praised Resch for being selfless and said he is committed to transformational change at the bureau.
In response to questions for reporters, Lovell said he will not immediately change how police have been responding to nightly confrontations with relatively small groups of protesters at the downtown Justice Center that have been criticized as involving excess force. He promised the bureau would investigate all complaints against officers. Wheeler has banned the use of tear gas to disperse protesters except when lives are threatened.
Lovell was praised by a number of African-American community leaders at the press conference, including Self Enhancement Inc. CEO Tony Hobson, Albina Head Start Director Ron Herndon, and Donald Dixon, who said he got to know Lovell when he served as a school resource officer at the predominately African-American school. Lovell worked well with the students and was very aware of what was going on in the school and in the community, Dixon said.
"Today, the community got what it needed,'' said Pastor Herman Greene.
The change came on the heels of a letter from three black civic groups — Word Is Bond, Black Male Achievement Portland and the Coalition of Black Men — sent to Wheeler, Resch, city commissioners and the city's police union about concerns regarding the lack of black leadership within the ranks of the bureau.
"This system, with its multiple-layered processes to ensure the utmost transparency, opportunities and inclusiveness that has been promised, reeks of internal nepotism that perpetuates itself," the leaders of the civic groups wrote. "It is exclusive of community oversight, diverse staff, and at beast marginalizes the contribution of equity professionals."
KOIN 6 news, a news partner of Pamplin Media Group, contributed to this story.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.