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New Police Chief puts Traffic Division in new ‘Community Services’ branch

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Chief O’Dea in 2008.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Incoming Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea appears to be making good on his promises and his potential. The new Chief, who community advocates have hailed for his record on community policing, announced a host of changes to the bureau today.

Effective January 8th, 2015, the bureau will have a fourth branch: Community Services. This new branch will include the Traffic Division (previously under the Operations Branch), which is a part of the bureau that interacts closely with our community. Traffic Division officers write the vast majority of traffic tickets, they investigate collisions and hit-and-runs, they work targeted enforcement actions, parades, protest marches, Sunday Parkways, and so on.

Chief O’Dea said the reason for the change is to: “Provide the senior leadership team the opportunity to oversee increased community engagement. We must continue to build community relationships and trust. The value of these relationships is unmeasurable and critical as we move forward.”


For anyone at the Bike Theft Summit last night, that last part might sound familiar. Officer David Sanders, a member of the bike unit who works downtown, told us that much of his work is about talking to people on the street. Its during those conversations that he asks people about suspected stolen bikes and other possible crimes.

Chief O’Dea also announced several personnel changes, saying that he’s promoting officers based on their ability to “engage the community.”

We’ve already shared that Chief O’Dea will mean good things for people who care about bicycling, and this organizational change at the outset is great news.