Where We Live: Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese

"My work is revolved around keeping this community safe," Reese says

Mike Reese. (KOIN)
Mike Reese. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If the name Mike Reese isn’t familiar to you, it should be. He was just elected Multnomah County Sheriff and before that he was Portland Police Chief.

That gives him a perspective on law enforcement that few others have. “My work is revolved around keeping this community safe,” he says.

Reese was police chief between 2010 – 2015. Voters then chose him to replace former sheriff Dan Staton.

He was chief during rocky times for the Portland Police Bureau. He took office shortly after an officer shot and killed Aaron Campbell. Campell’s family got a million dollar settlement. In 2012, the U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into police use of force against the mentally ill, leading to sweeping reforms.

Reese believes his experience influences his approach to his new job. “We’re going to be completely transparent about our use of force at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office,” he said.

“Too many of our police officers are coming into contact with people with severe mental illness. We have to have other resources in place while also protecting our community.”

As sheriff, Reese is in charge of jails. A recent report shows blacks in Multnomah County are treated more harshly than others in the criminal justice system. “I take disparities in our criminal justice system very, very seriously,” he said.

“Where there are gaps, we’re going to close those gaps and change our policies.”

Reese says he is looking to restore credibility to an organization that many say has been lost.