Eight days after the Oregon State Police opened a criminal investigation into an April 21 hunting accident in Harney County in which Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea accidentally shot a friend, Mayor Charlie Hales has placed O'Dea on administrative leave.
The move comes less than 24 hours after Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said O'Dea's initial account of the shooting was untruthful.
O'Dea initially told a Harney County deputy the victim shot himself, Ward said yesterday.
But on April 25, O'Dea told Hales he had actually shot the man, as WW first reported.
That contradiction apparently prompted Ward to step forward yesterday, in a rare instance of law enforcement official breaking silence about the details of a pending criminal investigation.
Assistant Chief Donna Henderson will serve as acting chief while O'Dea is out.
Here's Hales' statement:
“We need our Police Bureau operating at its best, and our officers can’t do that when there’s turmoil and confusion surrounding their leader,” Hales said in a statement. “Chief O’Dea has been providing excellent service as our police chief, and now needs to focus on these investigations. He and I agree that going on administrative leave during these open investigations is in the best interest of the Bureau and the city. I am awaiting the outcome of internal and external investigations before commenting about the incident, and urge all Portlanders to do the same.”
Just after Hales released his statement, Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner issued his own statement. The union president says that O'Dea should be held to the same standard as his subordinates.
“The rank and file of the Portland Police Bureau live and work by a standard and code of conduct set forth by the Chief of Police, his managers, and most of all, by the needs and the expectations of the evolving and diverse communities we serve. When the standard is breached, there is an extensive investigation process in place that assures full disclosure and transparency to the public as well as every member of the Bureau. However, the expectation of this standard of transparency and trust does not and should not be exclusive to the rank and file; it must also include our Command staff, supervisors, managers, and the Chief himself. This incident has compromised the integrity of the Police Bureau, and should not be a reflection on our sworn and non-sworn members who work tirelessly and diligently to build trust and respect within our community.”
The Portland Police Commanding Officers Association released a statement this afternoon as well:
“Integrity and accountability are two of the core principles of the Police Bureau. All members of the organization, up to and including the Chief, must be held to the same high standards,” the PPCOA said. “A full, impartial investigation must be conducted to determine if the Chief complied with the law and PPB policies regarding the incident last month in Harney County. Further, the investigation must be transparent to ensure both public faith and internal credibility.”