Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw is moving to a bigger job. Later this week, she'll be sworn in as the Philadelphia police commissioner.
It's a huge move up for the chief, who arrived here in August 2017 from Oakland, where she was deputy chief. Portland has about 900 police officers; Philadelphia has the nation's fourth largest police force with 6,500 officers.
"I'd like to congratulate Chief Outlaw for landing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement. "We thank her for her service to the City of Portland and the Portland Police Bureau, where she helped make a positive difference. She came to Portland exceedingly qualified for the position of police chief, and leaves more prepared than ever for her new position in Philadelphia."
Outlaw's departure, first reported this morning by The Oregonian, is not a great surprise. Prior to taking the job in Portland, the high-flyer from Oakland interviewed for other chief's jobs around the country and continued to network in a variety of national forums after Wheeler hired her.
A November 2018 WW cover story noted Outlaw's heavy travel schedule and speculation within the bureau that she was a short-timer.
Outlaw denied at the time she was seeking to move to a bigger job.
"People are seeing in me something that I'm not even thinking about," she told WW then.
Outlaw sounded a different note today.
"For police chiefs, I don't think there is ever an ideal time to transition on to our next role in life. However, I am making this transition on good terms, knowing the Bureau will be left in the hands of a strong leadership team," Outlaw said in a statement. "I leave knowing the Bureau will remain committed to community safety while building trust. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as Portland's Police Chief, serving alongside the members of the Bureau and partnering with countless, remarkable individuals within Portland's community. I will forever be appreciative of my experience here."
Much of Outlaw's energy in in her two years in Portland was directed at controlling the violent confrontations between extremist protesters that have rattled Portland. A right-wing group called Patriot Prayer regularly visits Portland, seeking bloody fights with local antifascists.
In 2018, she championed an ordinance that would have allowed her and the mayor to decide when and where protesters could gather. City Council rejected it. This year, WW revealed emails between a police lieutenant and Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson; an outside investigation found Outlaw and other top police officials knew about those communications but failed to defend their officer.
After a freelance writer named Andy Ngo was assaulted by masked leftist protesters in June, right-wing groups from across the country pledged to descend on Portland to restore "law and order." Police began arresting longtime political brawlers who had attacked people—and that, combined with other new tactics, seemed to have a chilling effect on the violence. But Portland remains a target of violent right-wing groups.
In December, the fatal police shooting of a troubled, knife-wielding man named Koben Henriksen outside a Starbucks renewed longstanding questions about police use of force against people with mental illness.
Those problems now fall to another chief.
Wheeler has already chosen Outlaw's successor: Deputy Chief of Police Jami Resch, a longtime PPB veteran.
"We have considered all the options for what the next police chief should bring to the Bureau and after thoughtful, in-depth discussions, Jami Resch meets or exceeds all of the Bureau's current leadership needs," Wheeler said.
"I have complete confidence that Chief Resch will excel as our next police chief. She has my complete trust and a thorough understanding of my agenda. She is the right person at the right time for the job," Wheeler said.