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After serving as acting chief since April 2020, Peter Mahuna was tapped to officially lead WLPD as chief.

Nearly one year after the city of West Linn fired former Police Chief Terry Kruger, City Manager Jerry Gabrielatos selected Peter Mahuna, who served as captain under Kruger and interim chief after Kruger's departure, as the police department's next leader.

The city announced Mahuna's selection as chief Wednesday, Nov. 17.COURTESY PHOTO - MAHUNA

Mahuna began serving as acting chief of police in April 2020 after the city put Kruger on leave over his mishandling of the Michael Fesser case. WLPD officers falsely arrested Fesser, a Black Portlander, in 2017 in a now-infamous case of cronyism and corruption.

Mahuna came to WLPD after 26 years with the Portland Police Bureau.

"I believe Peter Mahuna will lead West Linn's Police Department into a brighter future," Gabrielatos said in a news release. "I want to thank all those in the community who were involved in this process for sharing their time and perspectives."

Throughout the recruitment process, which was led by the city's hired consulting firm Emergency Consulting Services International, the city has touted public participation.

ESCI recruiters met with several community groups at the beginning of the process before developing a candidate profile. Several community members also participated in an interview of Mahuna and the other two finalists for the position, Cory Chase and Terry Moss.

Some of those community members, however, criticized the process after Mahuna's selection was announced.

On social media, members of the West Linn Community for Police Reform — a group that formed in the wake of last year's Fesser settlement — suggested the inclusion of community groups was "performative."

"It feels like this was preordained and the city didn't want a meaningful search," one member of the group wrote on Facebook.

In his interview with community members Oct. 28, Mahuna acknowledged that it would take time to earn back the community's faith in the department.

"I can't make you feel heard, but I can listen. I can be present for the conversation, be available to you and act upon the things that are possible," Mahuna said during the interview. "Once I develop a track record of acting on the things that you brought forward, then I think you will feel heard and you can feel it was a genuine interaction."

In the news release Nov. 17, Gabrielatos expressed faith in Mahuna's ability to regain the community's trust.

"Mahuna has an impressive resume and has proven he can build community relationships and restore confidence in the West Linn Police Department through improved transparency and police practices," Gabrielatos said. "He is sensitive to the needs of the community and the modern day challenges of the profession."

Mahuna beat out 12 other candidates for the job, though two of those removed themselves from consideration.

"I am truly humbled and honored to be chosen as West Linn's Police Chief," Mahuna stated in the city's release. "This department's success is dependent on the great staff that work here, and I am excited to be leading them through the opportunities and challenges that the job presents. I am proud of the partnerships we have with the community and will do everything in my power to lead this department and community safely together into the future."


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