PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman is back to work after almost three weeks of administrative leave due to an investigation for possible wrongdoing.
Marshman was cleared by the investigation, but the police bureau remains unsettled. Several employees are under investigation for various reasons and Mayor Ted Wheeler is looking to hire a new police chief this summer.
Marshman discussed the state of the bureau with KOIN 6 News on Thursday, talking about whether there is a discipline problem and what he learned about internal investigations first hand.
“[Investigations] need to be quicker,” Marshman said. “Because personally for me, being gone 3 weeks, I quickly became out of touch with the day-to-day operations of the bureau.”
He said it was hard to jump back into budget and summer planning after 3 weeks. He wants to make sure the process is fair but more timely in the future.
There are currently 10 PPB employees on leave from an already short-staffed police force.
“Is 10 a big number compared to over a thousand? No,” Marshman said. “But its a process that we have in place and that due process needs to be followed for everybody.”
He said any discipline issues that exist in PPB are comparable to any other police agency.
“I think this is a very professional organization,” he said.
Marshman said the bureau will need to hire 75 officers every year for the next 5 years to make up for the loss of one third of the force who are eligible for retirement in that period.
“Comparatively speaking, I think this agency does very well on a whole number of fronts, number of issues. That said we will never reach perfection,” Marshman said.
He said the bureau is fine with protests and “more patient than most,” but they want to people to be safe.
The bureau is working with the American Civil Liberties Union on a policy for responding to protests when they start to get out of hand.
“We don’t have a carbon copy, if ‘A’ happens we do this,” Marshman said. “We try to deescalate, we try to see each situation for what it is and respond accordingly.”
Meanwhile, Wheeler is conducting a nationwide search for the next police chief and expects to pick a replacement by July.
“I’ll see what the job description says,” Marshman said. “I could see applying, we’ll see how it goes.”
Overall, Marshman said the Portland Police Bureau is progressive and professional.
“You hear the term ‘best practices’ quite a bit. I would rather not follow best practices,” Marshman said. “I would rather have this organization set best practices.”