Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is expected to announce early this month who will serve as Portland’s next police chief. He’s down to four candidates after a nationwide search drew 33 applications.
Mike Marshman, who was appointed as interim chief last summer, is one of the four. The city has confirmed the identity of one other candidate, assistant Pittsburgh police chief Larry Scirotto, but has said the other two have requested their names remain confidential.
Portland’s Resistance, an activist group formed after the election of President Donald Trump, announced Monday it would pursue an effort to recall Mayor Wheeler if Marshman is selected for the position.
Marshman was appointed in June of 2016 following the retirement of Larry O’Dea. He was placed on administrative leave in March of this year after accusations of falsifying training records, and reappointed to his post in April when colleagues changed their story. Just weeks after Marshman was appointed, The Oregonian reported he had been investigated for a 2002 incident involving violence against his stepson, who was then 16. More recently, Marshman has come under fire for his department’s handling of large protests, which have increased since the Presidential election.
One of the six who apparently didn’t make the cut is Charles Moose, 63, who led the Portland Police Bureau from 1993 to 1999, serving as the city’s first African American police chief. The Oregonian reported last week that Moose had been seen downtown wearing a suit during the week candidates were being interviewed, and later quoted a Facebook post from Moose’s wife, Sandy, saying he had been eliminated from the search.
A community panelist who spoke with The Skanner said the majority of the six candidates – including Scirotto, who is bi-racial – were people of color, as were the majority of those serving on the panels. During the interview process, the group of 15 volunteers was broken into three groups, and all had an hour to speak with each candidate. A city staff member provided them with questions to ask – based on the posted job description and survey results – and collected their notes and feedback at the end.
E.D. Mondaine, first vice president of the NAACP Portland Branch and one of the community panelists, said he was impressed with the breadth of experience his fellow panelists brought to the interview process. Other panelists included Nkenge Harmon-Johnson, president of the Urban League of Portland, Dr. T. Allen Bethel of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition, Patricia Day TenEyck, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Multnomah County and Sandi McDonough, President and CEO of the Portland Business Alliance.
“We’ll of course know at the outcome of the process how our input was put to use,” Mondaine told The Skanner.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of communities of color represented on the panel, indicating that the city recognized that these are the communities impacted by police interactions in our communities,” said panelist Melissa Chavez, who was contacted about serving on the panel after going through a Disability Leadership Academy training presented by the city’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement.
Portland’s Resistance has been publicly critical of the hiring process so far, and has asked the city to hold a public forum to interview chief candidates.
“We didn’t even know who was on the community panel to interview the finalists until (we filed a) public records request and we have no idea how people were chosen to be on this panel,” Gregory McKelvey, an organizer with the group, told The Skanner.
In a July 18 Medium post, the organization notes Wheeler had previously stated he wanted the public to be involved in vetting the finalists. It includes this quote from a Jan. 6 interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting: “When we get down to the top few finalists, let’s say three today as a marker, I’d like to have an opportunity for the public to be able to vet the finalists.”
Cox said the mayor’s office selected the community panel by reaching out to stakeholder organizations. They wanted to include experts on policing as well as representative groups.
He also said that as the hiring process has progressed, the mayor’s office has become more aware of the importance of respecting candidates’ requests for confidentiality.
“There has been one other case, not with the police bureau but with another bureau in the city, where a finalist has dropped out rather than be named publicly, and we do not want that to happen here,” Cox told The Skanner.
One of the panelists, Daryl Turner, is president of the Portland Police Association, which represents the police bureau’s rank and file. In April the PPA issued a press release calling Wheeler’s nationwide search for a new police chief – a promise he campaigned on last spring -- a “misguided endeavor.”
The press release included the results of a survey of union members, saying 90 percent of respondents believe morale is higher than it was under Marshman’s predecessor, Larry O’Dea. O’Dea retired in June 2016 amid a criminal investigation regarding the off-duty shooting of his friend during an eastern Oregon camping trip that spring.
This spring the city posted a community survey asking members of the public what the city should seek in a new police chief, and released the results in June.
The three most common personal characteristics survey respondents sought, in order of their popularity, were “honesty/integrity,” “community oriented” and “equity, racial and social-justice focused.” The most common responses to a question about professional experience and background were: community policing experience, knowledge of Portland’s history of racism and knowledge of de-escalation strategies and crowd control.
Survey respondents were 83 percent White and a majority (62 percent) were women. Just 2.4 percent of respondents identified as Black or African American, and a single respondent identified as African.
If Marshman is replaced, the new chief would be Portland’s fourth in 10 years (not counting Donna Henderson, who served as interim chief briefly last summer). Larry O’Dea was appointed in 2015, replacing Mike Reese, who retired from his role in 2010, but now serves as Multnomah County Sheriff. Rosie Sizer was Portland’s police chief from 2006 to 2010.