Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler today defended what he described as an "executive decision" to make an internal hire for police chief in the wake of former Chief Danielle Outlaw's sudden departure.
During a press conference this morning, Wheeler said his decision to promote Deputy Chief Jami Resch wasn't sudden.
"I already knew her, I already trusted her, and I believe she's the best person for the job. So that's why I made the decision that I did," Wheeler said. "I had my eye on Chief Resch for a long time. As the deputy chief, I've already developed a working relationship with her. I know what she's capable of."
Outlaw left the department last month to become the police commissioner in Philadelphia. Wheeler’s decision for forego a national search with public input—like the one he conducted for Outlaw—drew some criticism in the wake of the announcement, including from his leading opponent in the upcoming mayoral race, Sarah Iannarone.
"In the hiring of the last chief, Wheeler promised Portlanders a transparent process which we did not get; it's not clear to me how this is an improvement over that," Iannarone said in a statement to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Resch, who is a 21-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau and the former deputy chief, today described her approach to policing as "collaborative" and emphasized the need to draw on the resources of other agencies and bureaus in the event of protests. She also signaled that she expects more of the violent dueling protests that have made Portland a national target for right-wing groups.
"2020 is an election year and we will anticipate demonstrations," she said. "We're reaching out. We're not trying to do it on our own. We're trying to gather as much information ahead of [demonstrations] and really establish whose responsibility is what."
Among the few tidbits of news Resch dropped: She said she is “very supportive” of police body cameras, and that she would like to see the creation of a pilot program for such cameras during her tenure as chief.
"We must remain accountable, transparent and continue to improve our trust within the community," Resch said. "I am excited to lead an organization that has such dedicated individuals doing this work."