The Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division has chosen a new captain. Officer Eric Hendricks, who has been in the bureau for 23 years and was most recently in charge of its Training Division, will now lead the Traffic Division.
Assistant Chief and former Traffic Division Captain Larry O’Dea shared the news with me yesterday and O’Dea said he’ll personally introduce Hendricks at a tonight’s meeting of the City of Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee.
The Traffic Division is the most important part of the Bureau for bike-related issues. They write 80% of traffic tickets, they conduct targeted enforcement actions, investigate bike crashes, they escort bike parades, and generally have a lot of contact with the community.
When we covered O’Dea’s departure from the Traffic Division back in November, he promised he would find a replacement who had the same commitment to building a productive and respectful relationship with the community around bicycle issues as he had.
In stark contrast to the controversial leadership before him, O’Dea oversaw an era of goodwill between the community and the Police that did not go unnoticed.
In selecting Hendricks, O’Dea said that he was “really encouraged” by his last assignment. While at the Training Division, Hendricks patched up a strained relationship between the Portland Police Bureau and the state-run Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) in Salem.
“We historically haven’t had the greatest relationship with DPSST,” said O’Dea, “he [Hendricks] helped us rebuild and restore that relationship.” O’Dea compared that situation with the situation at the Traffic Division when he took over. “When I got to Traffic,” he said, “I saw there wasn’t a healthy relationship between the Bureau and the bike community and I wanted to fix that.” O’Dea said that Hendricks is, “the kind of guy that can pick up and continue that relationship”.
O’Dea also said that he expects Hendricks to be a regular attendee at Bicycle Advisory Committee meetings.