Officials in Cincinnati could announce as early as today whether Portland Police Chief James Craig has been selected to lead that city’s police force.

Craig is one of four finalists, and if selected would be the first chief from outside Cincinnati’s police department in recent years. Until recently, the city had a law that allowed only internal candidates to be considered.

Craig did not respond to interview requests Monday. But he has been highly touted for his big-city experience with the Los Angeles Police Department and his experience as a chief executive at Portland’s mid-size department.

Cincinnati’s police force has 1,057 officers compared with Portland’s 160. Craig also has experience bringing ideas from outside a city into his new department, as he did transplanting policing strategies to Portland.

Several sources said Monday that they expect an announcement today even though Cincinnati officials have suggested that no decision is imminent.

Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. visited Portland last week, a sign that he is seriously considering Craig for the job.

“Clearly they wouldn’t be expending the resources on him if he wasn’t a very serious candidate,” said City Councilor Edward Suslovic, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee.

Dohoney’s low-key visit did not involve meeting with Suslovic, nor did he meet with former Portland City Manager Joe Gray, who hired Craig for the Portland job two years ago.

Craig has said all along that there are many strong candidates for the job, and that it would be up to Cincinnati officials to make – and announce – the selection of the new chief.

Meg Olberding, spokeswoman for Dohoney, said Monday that the city had not scheduled a news conference or said that a decision is imminent. Previously, she said a decision could be made in mid- to late July.

The other outside candidate, a former assistant chief with the Metropolitan police in Washington, D.C., said Monday he had not been told of any decision. The other two finalists are members of the Cincinnati department’s command staff.

Over the weekend, Craig presided over a car show at the Portland Motor Club. When organizers said the event was a success and would be repeated in the future, whether or not Craig was still in the city, Craig responded cryptically that Portland will always be his home.

Suslovic said he wouldn’t be surprised if Cincinnati or some other metropolitan department hires Craig.

“I think he’s done an impressive job for Portland … and knowing him, he’ll be committed to doing the (Portland) job right through, regardless of what happens,” he said.

Craig, 54, has strengthened the city’s commitment to community policing through his senior lead officer initiative, Suslovic said. He also has helped strengthen the positive ties between police and the city’s youth, he said.

Suslovic said that if Craig does take a job elsewhere, he leaves behind a talented command staff in Assistant Chief Michael Sauschuck, Commander Vern Malloch and Capt. Ted Ross, as well as several capable lieutenants.

“There are probably several candidates internally that would be very strong candidates to be our next police chief when that situation arises,” Suslovic said. “It would be perhaps not even necessary to do a big national search.”

If Craig does leave, the job of selecting a new chief will fall to incoming City Manager Mark Rees, who is scheduled to start July 20.

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]