Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker capped his third year in Portland last month, and it was a year no less controversial than the previous two.

Last April, Kroeker made a bid to lead the Los Angeles Police Department, where he previously served for 32 year. He was among the final 13 candidates but was not chosen. He then reaffirmed his initial commitment to serve five years in Portland.

In August, a visit by President Bush incited an angry crowd to clash with police; the chief was criticized for the officers' use of pepper spray and batons on people in the crowd.

Last month, the chief faced a call for his resignation after local Latino citizens took offense when he awarded medals to the officers who fatally shot Mexican immigrant Jose Santos Victor Mejia Poot in a psychiatric hospital on April 1, 2001.

Despite the pitfalls, Kroeker has strong support from Mayor Vera Katz, the police union and many constituents who respect his leadership style.

The Tribune asked the chief to write about challenges and opportunities in 2003. In the coming year, he writes, the police bureau will renew its efforts in community policing, a project spearheaded by Kroeker's predecessor, Charles Moose.

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