PORTLAND — New Police Chief James Craig said he wants to do a lot quickly, both within the Police Department and in the community.

On his first day as the city’s top cop, though, Craig’s goal Monday was to meet as many of his officers and staff as possible, aware it may take a while before he learns 160 names.

“It’ll start coming,” Craig said. 

Another goal for the 52-year-old chief is to meet with leaders of the city’s Sudanese community this week. Members of that community are dealing with the death of 26-year-old David Okot, who was shot and killed by police on April 25. Okot allegedly pulled a gun on two officers responding to a report of a man displaying a gun at an apartment building on Weymouth Street. 

Deputy Police Chief Joe Loughlin last week said a meeting with members of the Sudanese community would have to wait until emotions subsided. The Okots, meanwhile, are declining to speak publicly about the shooting.

“I want to start building a relationship with the leaders of the Sudanese community,” Craig said. “To try to get to know each other.” 

Craig met with high-ranking officers Monday morning, and with other city officials. He also had a meeting with a group of detectives and planned to meet with officers when they changed shifts in the afternoon.

“I want to talk with them and see what they want to see happen to the department,” he said.

The new chief was sworn in Friday, May 1, at City Hall. He came to Portland after 28 years on the Los Angeles police force. Craig is Portland’s first black police chief. The swearing-in ceremony, attended by his family,  was an emotional one for him, Craig said.

In Los Angeles, he commanded a division of the Police Department that included 370 officers and civilian employees. In Portland, he’s in charge of about 210 sworn and non-sworn personnel.

Craig is renting a house and said he plans to buy a home. While he is not opposed to living in the city, he said he plans to look in neighboring towns, too. His wife, Mary, meanwhile, will travel back and forth between Portland and Los Angeles to tend to her business, Craig said. The couple’s daughter, Erica, will most likely stay in California to attend college.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]

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p-policechief.jpgJames Craig makes remarks at Portland City Hall May 1 after being sworn in the city’s new police chief. (Michael Barriault photo)
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