New ‘top cop’ named for outer East Portland

Although he’s been in been the Acting Commander since May, find out what newly- minted East Precinct Commander Bill Walker says are now his primary challenges…on which he’s already taking action …

Yes, he’s still wearing his Captain’s Bars! He stopped for this photo on his way downtown, where he’ll be officially promoted to the rank of Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Walker, on July 1.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Community leaders and neighborhoods who know him pretty much agree new Portland Police Bureau Chief Michael Reese couldn’t have made a better choice to replace him than Captain Bill Walker.

It was made official – at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 1 – that Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Captain Bill Walker, the Acting Commander of the precinct, was named East Precinct Commander by his former boss.

Two hours before he was officially promoted, Captain Walker talked with us for a couple of minutes, as he hurried to change into his Class-As and head down to the official ceremony held at the Portland Building.

“It’s true,” soon-to-be Commander Walker said, “I’m being promoted, and will be staying here at East Precinct. Mark Kruger will become my captain. Mark was a lieutenant here on the day shift for about a year.”

Two hours before officially being named to the Commander post, Portland Police Bureau Captain Bill Walker leads a staff meeting at East Precinct.

Facing the issues
Asked about the important issues he faces as the official commander, Walker said, “Really, two things. Dealing with the budget deficit is one of them. Starting today, July 1, we, as a Bureau, have a $2.5 million deficit. I have a piece of that as well; I have to figure out how to save money here at the precinct level.”

Personnel and staffing a police precinct that operates “24/7/360” is always a challenge, Walker continued. “I’m short on filling positions here at the precinct; I’m trying to rectify that, through some transfers that’ll take place in the next couple of weeks.”

Personal mission: Connecting with minority communities
The biggest mandate for him, as Precinct Commander, Walker continued, is better connecting with minority populations. “With some segments of the population who live in the precinct, we don’t have any conversation going [between residents and the police bureau]. Three of the largest that come to mind are the Hispanic, Russian-speaking, and Pacific Islander communities.”

Additionally, Walker noted that the African-American community is typically under-represented at the monthly East Precinct Advisory Council meeting, open to all outer East Portland neighbors. “I want to start focusing on reaching out to those segments of the community.”

Commander Walker leads an East Precinct Citizen’s Advisory meeting.

Addresses burgeoning burglaries
Asked about the type of crime most prevalent, on which the precinct is now focusing, Walker summed it up in two words, “Residential burglaries”.

“We do have a big problem with burglaries; we have a 60% increase in residential burglaries, to date, over last year. We’ve already implemented strategies that will have a major impact on this type of crime,” Walker concluded.

Meet the Commander
On July 6, from 6 pm until 8 pm, meet Commander Bill Walker at the East Precinct Citizens Advisory meeting. At this monthly gathering, neighbors learn what their police department is doing to reduce crime, and the fear of crime.

Also Crime Prevention Specialists, command staff and community safety folks are on hand to answer questions. It’s all happening tonight at the East Precinct Community Room, 737 SE 106th Ave.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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