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New Interim Portland Police Chief outlines priorities for tenure

By Connor McCarthy

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    PORTLAND Oregon (KPTV) — Interim Portland Police Chief Bob Day has been on the job for a little more than a week and he has big ambitions for the bureau.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced Day would be succeeding Chief Chuck Lovell last month and he was sworn in 10 days ago. Chief Day still plans on stepping down when the new mayor is sworn into office in 2025.

From now until then, he wants to bring the community together to improve transparency and fix any trust issues with Portland Police.3

“The challenges that we have are obvious, they’re well documented, but I’m hearing both inside and outside the organization, a deep desire for a different story, a different framework,” Day said.

Day’s tenure will be about 16 months while the city waits for its new mayor and a new structure of government.

It may not seem long but Day said he has three priorities: reducing crime and the fear of crime, more transparency and accountability, and professional growth among his officers.

“The days of just the police standing up in front of the microphone and saying ‘trust us, trust us, trust the system’ I think has long passed,” Day said “There are studies that show the declining trust in law enforcement.”

One of Day’s first tasks is understanding the role the bureau plays in enforcing the city’s daytime camping ban. Wheeler’s office has said enforcement will start this fall but Day said there’s still no exact timeline.

“We have to obey that with the availability of resources, the risk that it may take to say no to something else, the legitimacy of the impact we might be able to have of writing people tickets and moving them along,” Day said. “I’ll just have to weigh all of that once we get a clear idea of a start date and direction.”

When it comes to tackling the fentanyl crisis, Day admits this is something new for him. He understands the impact the drug can have on people and their families. He said he lost a family member to a fentanyl overdose, so this crisis is a priority for him.

“We’re talking about human lives at stake here and so we’re doing everything we can,” Day said.

He’s also appreciative of the help from Oregon State Police to curb the fentanyl supply chain.

“I’ve seen some really positive reports when it comes to seizures and arrests with money, guns, drugs, etc.,” Days said. “So there is a definite impact being made in that regard.”

Day said being away from PPB for four years allowed him to grow and see different perspectives on law enforcement. As a civilian, he’s seen how police messaging can be misinterpreted.

“That journey and that learning just keeps driving me to want to share that organizationally because it’s an awakening, really it’s a gift for me to have that and come back,” Day said.

By the end of his tenure, Day wants PPB to have the transparency and accountability many in the community want of their local law enforcement agency.

“When 2025 rolls around, we’re positioned both as an organization and as a community to attract a very high-quality candidate that wants to do this,” Day said.

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