Relations between Police Chief Rosie Sizer and the presumed future police commissioner, City Commissioner Randy Leonard, have plunged to such a low that sources say the two can’t possibly work together in Mayor-elect Sam Adams’ administration.
The impasse between two of Portland’s most-recognized personas is so critical that in a Tuesday interview with WW, Leonard went as far as identifying possible replacements for Sizer. He mentioned Assistant Chief Bret Smith, Central Precinct Cmdr. Mike Reese and Assistant Chief Brian Martinek (see “The Non-Brady Bunch,” in this week's Cover Story) as his top choices.
“I’ve talked to her, I’ve met with her—it’s like there’s this wall that I can’t seem to get around with her,” Leonard says of Sizer. “It doesn’t bode well for us working together.”
Sizer was on vacation and unavailable for comment. But one of her supporters tells WW she’s prepared to quit if Adams makes Leonard police commissioner when he becomes mayor in January.
“She enjoys the role very much but will not work for Randy Leonard, and she has communicated that to him,” the source says. “It would be catastrophic, and she would leave the job.”
Retiring Mayor Tom Potter, an ex-police chief, now manages the bureau. Mayors pick which commissioners manage which bureaus, and police is City Hall’s highest-profile assignment.
The question is which path Adams will choose: keeping the bureau with Sizer as chief, or installing Leonard as police commissioner. Leonard, a former firefighter who’s proven comfortable overhauling bureaus he’s assigned, has made no secret of the fact he wants the job. Adams gave a big nod in his direction July 10 when he assigned Leonard to assemble a team and do a sweeping public-safety assessment.
Leonard says Sizer made it clear from the start she opposed the project. For that reason, he says, he did not invite her to join the team, which instead includes Reese and police union president Robert King.
After Sizer met with Potter to complain, Leonard apologized and added her to the group. Sizer is scheduled to attend their next meeting Aug. 7 in Leonard’s office.
Minutes from the group’s first meeting July 16 show Leonard came armed with ideas. Among them: a belief that the major trouble in the bureau is how long it takes to hire new recruits, leading to problems with its budget, staffing and morale.
Leonard used an example of one candidate who got a job with the U.S. Secret Service faster than he could be hired at the Police Bureau. Leonard tells WW the Bureau had doubts about the candidate, “but apparently they weren’t a problem in protecting the president.”
Police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz says Sizer has repeatedly acknowledged the same troubles and hired a manager who already made some of the changes Leonard is now talking about.
“Many of those efficiencies had already been implemented months ago, but it doesn’t appear anyone was aware,” Schmautz says.
Contrary to Leonard’s assertions, Schmautz says Sizer supports the public-safety group’s work. “If there’s an allegation that the chief is against any project that improves the Police Bureau,” says Schmautz, “that is not true.”