Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell says he still doesn't know what "mistake" caused the president of the Portland Police Association to abruptly resign last week.
On Wednesday, Lovell addressed the bizarre resignation of police union president Brian Hunzeker, which the union described as the result of a "serious, isolated mistake related to the Police Bureau's investigation into the alleged hit-and-run by Commissioner [Jo Ann] Hardesty."
The March 24 press conference was the first the chief has held since someone leaked an incident report with false information about Hardesty to right-wing groups and local press on March 4. Lovell said he has not personally spoken with Hunzeker about his involvement in the leak and that he does not know what the "mistake" was that led to Hunzeker's March 16 resignation.
"I do think he will reveal that during the process that we have laid out and that we all agreed upon," Lovell said. "So I think there will come a time in the very near future where we will learn exactly what actions PPA president Hunzeker took leading up to his resignation."
It remains unclear when that information will be made available to the public. Lovell acknowledged the public interest in knowing details of the reasons for Hunzeker's resignation, but said he also believes the allegations need to go through a formal investigative process.
"I think, once the investigations are done and the information is able to be released, I think the public has a right to know," Lovell said.
The Police Bureau's internal affairs investigation, which began March 5, is one of four investigations the city plans to conduct stemming from the leak. Last week, the city finalized a $50,000 contract with an outside firm called the OIR Group to probe the leak itself in a review that will be independent from PPB.
The Police Bureau has endured a steady stream of controversy this month, much of it stemming from officers in open conflict with Portland's elected officials about police funding and criminal justice reforms.
In addition to the leaked incident report and Hunzeker's resignation, the Secretary of State's Office opened an investigation following WW's story about the bureau's East Precinct Commander Erica Hurley, who suggested to residents at a neighborhood meeting in January that they should vote out Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt if they want to see reduced crime.
Lovell said the bureau will address Hurley's comments "in the appropriate manner" as it learns more information.
"For me," Lovell said, "I expect my commanders to be out engaging with the community, having these conversations, to be candid and honest, but also to be respectful and fair to our law enforcement and criminal justice partners."
Lovell said it's incumbent upon PPB to rebuild public trust and that, as chief, he is "ultimately responsible" for issues that plague the bureau.
"But at the same time, people have to take personal responsibility for the actions that they do as well," Lovell said. "These things are, in many ways, self-inflicted injuries of sorts that could be avoidable."