City withdraws job offer for new dean of police bureau training

On Friday, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) announced that the city had hired its first “civilian dean of training” – a position defined as a requirement in the city’s settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice. (DOJ). A few days later, PPB announced that they had rescinded the job offer to their newest recruit, the former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) sergeant. Thomas Datro.

PPB offered no explanation for the decision, announced Wednesday afternoon, noting only that: “The recruitment process will resume as soon as possible.”

DOJ lawyers first offered the city to hire a training dean in 2021, after the feds discovered the city was no longer in compliance with the settlement agreement the two sides had concluded in 2014 to address Portland cops’ use of force issues. This agreement required the city to meet certain criteria regarding police training, use of force policies and accountability measures, all of which were apparently violated during PPB’s response to racial justice protests in 2020. DOJ attorneys then outlined a plan for the city to get back into the good books of the federal government, including that the city “appoint a qualified civilian leader above the PPB’s training division to ensure consistent and proper training.” .

After a months-long process, the city’s hiring committee selected Datro, a longtime police sergeant with a leadership role in the LAPD’s training division. Datro also hosts a podcast called “Policing in America,” which touts the benefits of “broken windows policing” and questions the benefits of police reform.

In a statement released with the latest on Datro’s hiring, Mayor Ted Wheeler said, “Dr. Datro’s experience in law enforcement training and his commitment to community engagement will strengthen our ongoing efforts to reform the system by increasing accountability and transparency in community safety.”

The city announced Datro’s hiring on Friday before conducting a background check. It’s unclear if it was a poor background check that led to his offer being rescinded.

Datro was selected from a shortlist of 18 applicants. According to a PPB spokesperson, the city will not reconsider former applicants to fill Datro’s position, and will instead begin the hiring process again.

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