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New police chief OK with response to protests

Photo Credit: KOIN 6 NEWS - Portland police veteran Larry O'Dea will become chief on Jan.2.Larry O’Dea will take over the Portland Police Bureau at a time when protesters are repeatedly taking to the city streets to demand action over police violence.

O’Dea, 52, said he’s been pleased with the police response to the weeks-long protest following the grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York. There have been only a few arrests and officers have been trained to exercise restraint.

“One of the important things we talk about is, even though a lot of these recent events focus on the police, what this is highlighting for our country is really, is how does race impact all of our major institutions,” the incoming chief told KOIN 6 News.

“So this isn’t really just only about the police. It’s about the education system, the entire criminal justice system, the probation system, employment and the disparities that race has in all of these institutions.”

The 29-year veteran of the PPB — currently an assistant chief-in-charge of patrol operations — said the officers are often reminded that one of their important functions is to support “free speech and free expression, even if that concern, that anger, that frustration is about us.”

When he takes over from Chief Mike Reese on January 2, he plans to hire a diversity officer within the bureau and make more inroads into being part of the community — instead of just policing it.

There will also be changes to the command structure, he said.

For more information, watch KOIN 6 News and visit koin.com.