Portland’s white police chief quit suddenly Monday – and tapped a black police lieutenant to replace her, saying “it’s the exact right person at the exact right moment” for the job, according to a report.
Jami Resch, who has been a top cop in the Oregon city for less than six months, made the announcement in the wake of widespread criticism of the department’s massive handling of protests over the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Oregonian reported.
“I have asked Chuck Lovell to step into the role as chief of the police bureau,” Resch said at a press conference Monday. “Exactly the exact right person at the exact right moment.”
Lovell, a Portland police officer since 2002, has long been active in the community, serving as a high resource officer and a mentor in the local “Boys to Men” program, the outlet said. He also served as executive assistant to former Police Chief Danielle Outlaw, the first African-American woman to hold the post.
Lovell said the announcement caught him by surprise.
“It’s humbled,” he said. “Everybody is going to show up every day with a servant’s heart. Often going to listen. You’re going to care about the community and care about the people in the organization. All I can do is be me. ”
He said he was disturbed by the videos of Floyd pleading for air for nearly nine minutes while being pinned down by Minneapolis police.
“That’s what stuck with me – the thought that an idea that could exist,” Lovell said. “The fight is not with each other. The fight is against that idea – that people, institutions, agencies that can harbor that feeling in their heart. ”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he was surprised by Resch’s decision, but he was “100 percent confident” that Lovell “is the right person for this job.”
“Together we will work on meaningful, bold reforms,” Wheeler said.
Resch was named chief last year after Outlaw left to become Philadelphia’s police commissioner.
She said she made her decision to step down after considering the needs of the city and deciding that a change was needed.