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Mayor decides on Sizer as police chief

Mayor Tom Potter hired interim Chief of Police Rosie Sizer for the top cop job permanently Thursday, abandoning plans for a national search for Derrick Foxworth's successor.

'It is important to restore a sense of stability to the Portland Police Bureau, and I believe Rosie's permanent appointment will help do that,' Potter said in a prepared statement.

A 21-year veteran of the police bureau, Sizer is a legacy cop and the second woman to lead the Police Bureau as permanent chief. Her father, Jack, was a Portland officer for 32 years, and her husband, Dan Noelle, retired as a Portland assistant chief, then served as Multnomah County sheriff before he retired in 2003.

Sizer has served as commander of the detective division and two of the police bureau's five precincts, Southeast and Central. Along with her husband, she is considered by cops to be one of the few truly memorable leaders of Central Precinct, a dynamic job that forces the person holding it to deftly handle issues from large protests to panhandling.

Potter planned a news conference to announce Sizer's appointment after the Portland Tribune's deadline. Sizer could not be reached for comment in advance.

'Chief Sizer has guided the bureau through a very difficult time with strength, tact and leadership,' Potter said in the statement. 'When I appointed her as acting chief in April, I said then that she not only had my confidence, but also my full support. Her actions over the past two months have only reinforced my belief in her ability to lead the city's largest bureau.'

Potter elevated Sizer to acting chief from Southeast Precinct commander April 11, the day he put then-chief Foxworth on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into Foxworth's personal conduct. The investigation found little merit to the abuse-of-power claims made against Foxworth, substantiating only one of eight charges - spreading rumors about an internal police bureau investigation.

Potter demoted Foxworth to the rank of captain last week saying he could no longer effectively lead the police bureau.

Sizer then promoted her predecessor to her old job as Southeast Precinct commander earlier this week, just one in a raft of promotions and transfers that led to widespread speculation that the chief's job already was permanently hers.

Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto called Sizer's installation 'predictable' and said it would go a long way to smoothing the police bureau's rough path since the allegations against Foxworth were made public April 4.

'She is a very unique blend,' Giusto said. 'She's a cop's cop and yet she will make sure the next generation of officers will be prepared for what the community expects of them. She understands the psyche of the community and she can still motivate cops in a language they understand. Smart lady.'

Lt. Eric Hendricks of the gang enforcement team, whom Sizer promoted to captain of the training division effective July 6, worked in a North Precinct patrol district adjacent to Sizer's in the late 1980s, a time when crack had deep, persistent roots in the neighborhoods there.

'You had to be the very best kind of officer to have a sergeant even let you work in that environment,' he said. 'She was one of a real small group that met that standard.'

He said her reputation within the police bureau is 'excellent,' a reflection of what he called her relaxed personality, intelligence and desire to do what it best for the police bureau as a whole.

Giusto said from his perch Sizer has a reputation for being an engaged leader, but not a micromanager.

'She's not above the fray - she's usually in it,' he said. 'But she knows when to back out and let her people handle things so she doesn't step on their toes.'

Penny Harrington, the first woman hired as a permanent Portland police chief, in 1985, said Potter made a solid choice but that Sizer should quickly build support outside the police bureau.

'Any chief is in an extremely tenuous position,' she said.

The average tenure for a big-city police chief is two years.

'Even if you handle a situation right and make the perfect decision,' Harrington said, 'if the mayor gets heat for it, you're in trouble. Rosie really needs to build up a political support base with the other city commissioners and get out in the community.'

Sizer enters the job without a contract. While a contract is a common component of hiring a chief from out of town, it rarely factors in when a chief is promoted from within. She is an at-will employee reporting directly to Potter.

'I don't think they could have found anybody better,' Harrington said. 'But she's going to have her own ideas, she's going to want to put her own programs in place, and that takes time. She has the skills, but it's up to the mayor whether she has the time.'