New Commander takes charge of East Precinct

See what Commander Mike Reese plans for East Precinct as he leads the 200+ police officers who serve outer East Portland and beyond …

Seated next to Argay Neighborhood’s Valerie Curry at his first East Precinct Citizens Advisory meeting, newly-minted Commander Mike Reese listens to neighbors’ concerns.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After a relatively long tenure in outer East Portland, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs was assigned to the command post for the bureau’s Detective Division.

>> CLICK HERE to read about Commander Crebs’ send-off!

On the cusp of the New Year, East Precinct had a new commander; he introduced himself to the community early in the year.

Introducing Commander Mike Reese
On January 5, the East Precinct Citizens Advisory Group reconvened under the leadership of the newly-appointed East Precinct Commander, Mike Reese.

Reese sketched out his career, starting as a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Patrol Deputy in 1989. He transferred to the Portland Police Bureau in 1994, and moved up through the ranks as he worked at different Bureau assignments.

As a lieutenant, Reese served with the Transit Division, and then North Precinct, before joining the bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT). In 2004, he was promoted to the rank of Captain of the Drugs and Vice Division.

His most recent assignment was Central Precinct Commander. Central now reaches east to S.E. 39th in inner Southeast Portland.

A believer in Community Policing
“I ‘grew up’ in law enforcement with the concept of Community Policing,” Reese told the group. “But it’s not only that Community Policing was coming into vogue during my formative years – I really believe in it. More than that, as a new officer, I really enjoyed building relationships with the community, and saw how those relationships lead to safer communities.”

Reese added that his role that evening was to facilitate the meeting, and listen to the community he was serving. With that, he called on his command staff to give information and reports; then solicited comments from community members present.

One-on-one with Commander Reese
Because its Commander sets the tone for law enforcement throughout the Precinct, we wanted to learn more about Mike Reese. A couple of weeks ago, the new Commander sat down with us in his office, and spoke candidly about his management style and his goals for the Precinct.

Law enforcement wasn’t his first job out of college, we learned – he was first the Director of the Lents Boys and Girls Club on S.E. Harold at S.E. 92nd Avenue for about six years.

“It’s funny how life has these little twist and turns of fate,” Reese said. “I was finishing up my senior year at Portland State University, and needed to do a practicum as part of the psychology program, for my degree.”

He fulfilled this practicum by volunteering as a Big Brother at the club, and eventually was asked to take the Director’s position after graduation.

Chose the Portland Police Bureau
After much of East Multnomah County had been annexed by the City of Portland, many MCSO deputies were forced to transfer to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). During a later round of transfers, senior deputies were given the option to join the Portland Police. “I took the transfer; I think it was a good decision. It worked out well for me.”

After he took off his green MCSO uniform and put on the PPB Blues, Reese was initially assigned to East Precinct. “Being named Commander here at East Precinct is like coming full circle.”

Commander Mike Reese says he’s “grown up” with Community Policing and continues to see its value.

“As I said at the Citizens Advisory Group meeting, from the management perspective, I ‘grew up’ with the concept of Community Policing.

“It is different from the standard policing model of law enforcement, which reacts to problems in the community. Instead, we are engaged in problem-solving. What I want to see from my officers at East precinct is this style of policing. That is, being engaged with the community, and developing as good a relationship with neighbors, business people, and social services providers, as we have with other parts of law enforcement.”

About the staff with whom he works, Reese commented, “The officers here are doing very good, creative police work; that hasn’t changed since I was here 15 years ago.” What has changed, he said, are the demographics; many former “inner city problems” have shifted to East Portland, as other areas have gentrified.

While Reese said he appreciates the responsibility the Bureau has given him by naming him to the post, “The best part is that I’m able to learn, by working with more than 200 officers – many of whom I haven’t worked with before. They’re doing great work.

“My job is to make sure that they have the resources to continue what they’re doing; and at the same time, provide a common purpose and focus for our efforts.”

Reese says he’ll be asking members of the community to help him focus the precinct’s energies on the most pressing problems in outer East Portland.

Priorities for Outer East Portland
Instead of dictating the focus of Precinct officers’ efforts, Reese said he’ll take his cue from the citizens in Outer East Portland.

“I’m looking forward to a dialogue; a synergy around moving forward on major issues. “If we decide that gang activity is the most pressing concern, or that a certain corridor is becoming a hotspot for crime and social disorder, we’ll focus or efforts there. I want the community to ask us what resources we’re willing to put forward, and will also ask the community how they’re willing to support us.”

Sees Inner SE Portland from a new perspective
Having most recently been in charge of policing Inner Southeast Portland east to S.E. 39th Avenue at Central Precinct, after the assignment reconfiguration, Reese remarked that that position gave him a good perspective on his new assignment.

“There are challenges in covering the western part of East Precinct – it is a vast geographic area,” Reese conceded. “We have district officers who really take ownership of their patrol districts. The district officers who were working in those areas before the precinct splits are still working there. These officers have shown that they’re really committed to their neighborhoods; they’ll continue to work with their neighborhood associations, being responsive to their concerns.”

The new Commander said part of his job is making sure all districts – even those in Inner Southeast Portland – have adequate resources and are covered by officers who know the area. “We’ll be there in full force, and fully-engaged in policing, right down to 39th Avenue.”

East Precinct Captain William Walker welcomes Commander Mike Reese to the Precinct, in the building’s lobby.

Asked how he feels about direct citizen contact, Reese replied, “I think it’s very positive. I prefer e-mail ( – or they can call me at (503) 823-4350.”

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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