Another Portland police chief has come to office with high hopes, only to see those hopes dashed. Chief Derrick Foxworth has been placed on paid leave amid allegations of sexual misconduct. But one thing remains to be seen: Will there be further casualties?
The signals coming from City Hall seem to indicate that Foxworth's days at the bureau's helm are over. In her first full day on the job, interim Chief Rosie Sizer demoted Foxworth's longtime right-hand man, Stan Grubbs, from assistant chief in charge of operations to head of the Identification Division. The fact that Grubbs was no favorite of Mayor Tom Potter suggests that the leadership shakeup may be a permanent one.
Foxworth is accused of carrying on a secret, improper relationship with a subordinateemployee,Angela Oswalt, during the period before he was chief. Oswalt claims that Foxworth, who was married at the time the affair began in 2000, solicited her both on and off the job, sometimes using Police Bureau communications equipment to do so. Oswalt also alleges that Foxworth "ordered, instructed, demanded and threatened" that she keep silent about their affair. Through her lawyers, she maintains that Foxworth's inappropriate behavior continued right up to her decision to reveal it.
Why, after six years, did Oswalt decide do go public with the affair? Besides Oswalt and, of course, her lawyers, who else stands to gain from Foxworth's fall from grace? We think there's more to this story under the surface.
Foxworth, for his part, isn't talking, although through his attorneys he did admit to a relationship with Oswalt, and said that he "did not supervise her." The public will likely never know the whole truth of the matter, but it seems clear that at the very least, he exercised poor judgment and acted in a way unbecoming a high-ranking police officer.
WhenFoxworthwas appointed by former Mayor Vera Katz, the city was ready for a change in culture at the police bureau after the tribulations of the Mark Kroeker era. African Americans in particular thought that Foxworth's tenure would lead to better relations between themselves and the bureau. And to Foxworth's credit, the bureau did make strides in that direction — the external review and revision of the bureau's policy on the use of deadly force that occurred on Foxworth's watch is a model of citizen-government collaboration.
The hope that surrounded Foxworth's appointment makes the allegations about his conduct all the more poignant. Whatever other casualties may arise from his case, the whole city feels the loss of another police chief's promising tenure brought short.
What do you think?
Drop us an e-mail at [email protected].