Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 17th, 2010 at 11:55 am
at Bike Gallery when Portland celebrated
reaching Platinum status in April 2008.
(Photos © J. Maus)
Last week, Portland Mayor Sam Adams made a surprising move by firing Police Chief Rosie Sizer and moving control of the bureau back into his office (and away from Commissioner Dan Saltzman).
There might be more to report on this in the weeks to come (will Adams relinquish the transportation bureau to make room for police?), but for now, with Sizer suddenly out of the picture, I thought I’d look back in the BikePortland archives to recall when and how she engaged with bike issues during her four-year tenure.
The first time Sizer made bike news headlines was when she came to the table following two fatal bike crashes in October of 2007. Those tragedies — and the controversial and inflammatory way some officers reacted to them — put the police bureau’s role in bike issues squarely on Sizer’s radar.
She was at the table for an emergency bike safety meeting called by then transportation commissioner Sam Adams. That meeting seemed to me like Sizer’s introduction to bikes. She was there because she was invited by Adams and her participation was limited. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that Sizer really began to roll up her sleeves on the issues
Sizer was much more engaged at a meeting to address the intense public outcry over the insensitive way former Traffic Division officers communicated in the media about the crashes. It was clear at that meeting (I sat across the table from her), that Sizer wanted to improve the bureau’s relationship with people who care about biking. She said she wanted to “make things better.”
It was at that meeting where Sizer likely hatched the idea to name Officer Robert Pickett as an official liaison to the community on bike issues. Pickett has excelled at this role and even garnered an Alice Award from the BTA in 2009.
Less than a week after the aforementioned meeting, Sizer made a surprise, off-duty appearance at a rally for bike safety where many people held up signs critical of the police bureau.
Unit who received a community
policing award in December 2007.
Taking a respite from controversy, Sizer was on hand in December 2007 to bestow an award in recognition of bike patrol officers for their “immeasurable impact” on the community.
Just two months after the rally mentioned above, Sizer re-assigned the top two officers at the Traffic Division that were the source of much of the community’s anger.
Following that tumultuous period in police relations, a new era began to take shape. In February of 2008, Sizer issued an executive order that altered the police code and lowered the severity threshold of bike-involved collisions that would trigger an investigation.
A few months later, with new leadership at Traffic Division sincerely engaged in bike issues, a Community Policing Agreement began to take shape. The agreement laid out the state of the relationship and expectations between the community and the police bureau. It was passed by City Council 16 months later and will be reviewed and revised if necessary on an annual basis.
Most recently, Sizer attended the Transportation Safety Summit where she was one of the featured speakers.
Under Sizer’s watch, I have seen Traffic Division officers become more engaged and sincere about being productive community partners than ever before. I believe that rank-and-file attitudes reflect the tone set by leadership and therefore I feel credit is due to Sizer.
Luckily, I have heard very positive things about new Police Chief Mike Reese and look forward to continuing to maintain and build on this strong relationship.