Police Chief’s retirement fête hosted in outer East Portland

See how ‘Citizen’ Mike Reese was honored, after stepping down as the Portland Police Bureau Chief of Police …

In this file photo, a couple of weeks after he was promoted to Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander, Mike Reese arrived at an unfolding crisis situation in outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Former Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Chief of Police Mike Reese ended his career on January 5 where it started it – here in outer East Portland.

Shortly after Reese was named PPB East Precinct Commander on January 5, 2010, he introduced himself to residents in an East Portland News story [CLICK HERE to read it]. He revealed that his first real job out of college, for about for about six years, was as Director of Wattles Boys and Girls Club.

His stay as East Precinct Commander was relatively brief; after Rosie Sizer was terminated as the Bureau’s Chief on May 12 of 2010, then-Mayor Sam Adams named Reese as Portland’s “top cop”.

There isn’t one empty parking space at the Portland Police Bureau Training Facility, here in the Wilkes neighborhood, at the retirement party for Chief Mike Reese.

It was close to standing-room-only, in the large meeting room at the Portland Police Bureau Training Facility on NE Airport Way, as Mike Reese was regaled with stories and praised by both rank-and-file cops, as well as neighbors.

Many people from different organizations, and from within the Portland Police Bureau itself, spoke about the high quality of service that Reese provided during his time as leader of the Bureau.

After commending Mike Reese, Felesia Otis hugs the departing Chief of Police.

One who told about Reese was the mother of Keaton Otis, a young man who pulled a gun on officers during a traffic stop, and was killed by police, on the first day that the new Chief was in office.

“Mike came and talked and visited with me,” said Felesia Otis told East Portland News outside of the formal farewell assembly. “It really helped our family navigate through a real difficult time. Then, he stayed in touch with us.”

“It’s hard to know what to say,” Reese responded. “There are times when your life intersects with people; sometimes during their tragedies. Like Felesia mentioned – you make a powerful connection.”

Traumatic situations like those helped him “focus on the health and welfare of this Police Bureau,” Reese added. “And, you know, from my first day in [the Chief’s] office, it reminded me that a very important thing is the health and welfare of our officers and the life-and-death decisions they make in the line of their work.”

Mike Reese listens to remarks made during his retirement event seated with his family.

During his formal remarks, Reese began, “I wasn’t sure if I needed to prepare a rebuttal, or counteraccusations. But now, at the end of the day, I think I’ll just ‘plead guilty’, and throw myself on the mercy of all of you. It’s been a wonderful career, 25½ years in law enforcement.

“First and foremost I think my family,” continued Reese. “[In law enforcement, we] are balancing the needs of our family with the needs of the community. Underpinning that is a sacrifice that our families make for those of us who are in this profession.”

Thanking his supporters and family is retiring Chief Mike Reese.

He pointed out that he’s been on-call “24/7 since 2001, when he joined the Tactical Operations Division in charge of the SERT unit. “That’s a long time for my family to be patient and support me as I work for the people of the City of Portland to make sure the citizens are safe.

“To my lovely wife and my daughters, you’ve been very patient and supportive, and I look forward to spending more time with you and having new adventures [with you] as a family.”

Reese went on to thank, by name, many people who helped and influenced his career, including those who “showed me ways to do creative policing”.

He then singled out former Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard. “Some people say he’s crazy’ but, he’s ‘crazy like a fox’. He taught me how to navigate the political aspects of working in City Hall.”

Reese ended his remarks, saying “I thank all of the men and women that I work with every day who display the current and professionalism that make this a truly great Police Bureau.”

Amid handshakes and hugs from well-wishers, Mike Reese says he’s ready for “civilian life”.

Asked if he had advice for incoming Chief Larry O’Dea, Reese said, “I think Larry will do a great job. He’s very dedicated, and very experienced. I think ‘the ship is sailing in the right direction’ and Larry is the right ‘captain’ to keep it going in the right direction.”

Now as Citizen Mike Reese, he told East Portland News that sailing will become less of a metaphor, and more of an activity. “I do enjoy being in my sailboat, out on the water, and I look forward to doing it a lot more in the very near future!”

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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