Danielle Outlaw, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's choice for police chief, spent much of her first public appearance in the city appealing to the rank-and-file officers who could be her toughest sell.
"I want to first acknowledge all of the Portland Police Bureau people in the room," future Chief Danielle Outlaw said. "You are the ones that are doing the work and I want you to know that I value you and I recognize you and I acknowledge you and I look forward to our partnership moving forward."
Outlaw will come to Portland from the beleaguered Oakland Police Department, which faced a series of scandals over the past several years that led the department to burn through three police chiefs in two weeks. Outlaw rose through the ranks to deputy chief and has been credited with contributing to reforms that addressed many of the problems in the Oakland police force.
But Outlaw said she's not in Portland to reform the bureau. Instead, she says she wants to focus on strengthening the law enforcement agency.
"I want to make it very clear, I'm not here to—I don't want to say reform," Outlaw said. "I'm here to strengthen the good work that's already been done here from the police department and the members of the department."
Wheeler said in December that he believed the Portland Police Bureau was tied with the Office of Neighborhood Involvement for the city office most in need of reform. Whether Outlaw agrees with that assessment remains to be seen. But she laid out her general priorities Thursday afternoon, which included reducing crime, building ties with the community and working closely with the rank-and-file to make sure they're well prepared.
"My focuses will also be, obviously we're a crime enforcement agency, it's crime prevention and reduction," she said. "It's also prioritizing our relationships with the community, those that are already there and improving those. And making sure the rank and file of the police department have what they need."
Outlaw added that it wasn't enough to meet current standards for police work and said she hopes Portland can make an example of its police force by trying new tactics.
"As an organization it's important to make sure that we're not only in alignment with best practices but to raise the bar," she said.