Police Chief Outlaw speaks at Warner Pacific

See why, for the first time, a Portland Police Bureau Chief chose to speak and take questions at an outer East Portland university …

In the Warner Pacific University Otto F. Linn Library, Western Pacific University President Dr. Andrea P. Cook introduces their guest speaker – Portland Police Bureau Chief Danielle Outlaw.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Students at Warner Pacific University (WPU) filled their Otto F. Linn Library on October 15, when Portland Police Bureau Chief Danielle Outlaw came to speak on the topic, “Justice and Policing”.

“We are so grateful to Chief Outlaw for taking the time to share her vision for policing and justice with us,” WPU President Dr. Andrea P. Cook commented before the talk began. “This is a unique opportunity for our students to interact with a civic leader on the forefront of these timely issues in our city.”

Chief Outlaw begins her presentation before a quiet, respectful audience both of students and of community members.

At the presentation, Chief Outlaw explained to East Portland News why she took the time to address the students and answer their questions. “I think it’s important for young people, being future leaders, not only to hear from current leaders, but to develop their own leadership style and form what they want to do to move forward. And, this is a good opportunity to connect with the community we serve.”

Throughout her talk, and into the Q & A session, the Police Chief spoke clearly and candidly – and occasionally expressed herself using quaint, colloquial terms. Outlaw began by observing to the students that she’d just marked her second year in the post on the first of October.

Created an updated Strategic Plan part of Chief Outlaw’s current work duty, she says.

“We’re working on a Strategic Plan, going through a lengthy analytical process that will give us a five-your roadmap,” Outlaw said. “This will tell us not only where we’ve been, but also where we’re going – and importantly: Who, and what resources, we’re going to need to do that.”

Not satisfied to wait for those five years, Outlaw said that because she’s one of the first police chiefs recruited from outside the Bureau in decades, she decided to start off getting to know “who’s doing it right” under her command – and getting to know, and to build trust, among people in the community.

“You can have the strategies of reducing crime, and improving morale, but if you don’t have the resources to implement them – the people, time, or money to do it – it’s just a strategy that goes up on the shelf,” Outlaw commented.

Chief Outlaw defines the goals of the Portland Police Bureau.

Three main goals defined
Her three main goals, Outlaw said, “and they’re not prioritized; one doesn’t work without the other”, include:

  1. Organizational excellence – Looking internally; “training for today” and not past decades, incorporating the right equipment, and making sure the policies reflect the values the Bureau has established.
  2. Crime reduction and prevention – “Not just crime reduction, we like to spend the majority of our time on prevention, so the crime isn’t even there anymore,” Outlaw said. “When we find ourselves being reactive all the time, all we’re doing is chasing our tails.”
  3. Community engagement and inclusion – “You’ve heard a lot of police chiefs talk about ‘community engagement’; but, add ‘inclusion’ to what we’re now doing.”

“The authority that I get to do my job comes from you, the community; if I’m not seen as legitimate in your eyes (speaking to a student in the front), you might not call the police when you should,” Outlaw said.

The Chief talked about what she called the “four tenets of procedural justice”: Voice, neutrality, respect, and trust. “And this includes the hiring process.”

In the past, many police officers came from a military background “because police departments are structured paramilitary organizations; but now, we’re also looking … to make sure we diversify the Police Bureau.

“And I don’t mean just your color of skin or gender, we’re talking about how you think, and the perspective that you bring. I want diversity in thought as well.”

Dealing with the Bureau’s current major challenges “can’t be cookie-cutter responses”, Chief Outlaw says.

About charges of police abusing their authority, for example, Outlaw listed the shooting of unarmed people; people of color being “over policed” in their own communities, such as being “frisked for now reason … we make sure that we do adhere to not only the laws, but also our value systems, based on the principles of constitutional policing and 21st-century policing.”

Challenges faced by Portland’s Police Bureau include burgeoning “houselessness” and larger scale public protests. “There is no cookie-cutter response; problems need to be addressed very deliberately and thoughtfully, case-by-case,” Outlaw reflected.

After the talk, students were invited to ask questions.

Question
How do you maintain dignity under pressure?

Answer
“A lot of it comes with time and experience and training … [such as during] scenario-based training … to make sure that [officers] can think and make logical decisions under pressure,” Outlaw responded.

WPU student Frank George, an organizer with “Northwest Trump Alliance for Change” asks if the Mayor has directed the Police Bureau to “stand down” during protests.

Question:
A student who identified himself as a leader of a conservative group said he’s seen violence done against peaceful protesters – for example, seeing a “70-year-old woman watching her husband be beat by Marxists while watching officers standing with their thumbs in their belt loops”. He asked if this reticence was under the orders by Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Answer:
“We’ve never received orders to stand down, from the Mayor,” Outlaw emphatically stated. “You’re not the only one who has experienced such perceptions; we hear it, as well, from folks on the other side.

“Our goals are always to not only facilitate free speech, but also to make sure that public safety is there and that everyone is safe – not favoring any side, by focusing on behaviors, not on ideology.”

At the end of the session, Chief Outlaw thanked the students for their time and questions and received a round of applause.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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