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Police Chief Resigns Because She Felt Betrayed By Commission Report

June 3, 1986

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ The city’s former police chief says she resigned because she felt betrayed by a commission that called for her replacement after investigating her friendship with a suspect in a drug case.

Penny Harrington, 44, also said in a telephone interview Monday that her position as the nation’s first woman to head a big-city police force made her vulnerable to the kind of scrutiny that led to her decision to quit after 16 months on the job.

The commission was formed to investigate Mrs. Harrington’s elimination of the vice and drug units as well as the relationship she and her husband, officer Gary Harrington, had with a suspect in a drug-trafficking case.

″Her management style is unyielding,″ said the report, made public Monday. ″We think it is highly unlikely that she can ever regain the confidence of a working majority of the bureau, or of other law enforcement agencies.″

Mrs. Harrington, who has been on the force for 22 years and fought her way through the ranks with a series of sex-discrimination complaints, maintained that she and her husband have done nothing wrong.

She said she had no idea the commission would make a blanket condemnation of her work.

″I felt betrayed. I felt shocked,″ she said. ″I thought if they were going to look at my management abilities, why didn’t they bring in people to talk about my management abilities?″

She said she believes her position as a woman in what had always been a man’s job left her open to closer-than-usual public scrutiny. The report acknowledged that her sex was a factor in the controversy, but only a minor one.

The report said Mrs. Harrington had ″defects of leadership″ that ″have cost her the confidence of the rank and file of her command, as well as the confidence of other law enforcement agencies with which the bureau must work cooperatively.″

Mayor Bud Clark, who had strongly supported Mrs. Harrington, said he had not asked the commission to make a recommendation on Mrs. Harrington, but panel members did so because they felt so strongly that she should be replaced.

″The commission’s recommendation came as a surprise to me and yet I appointed this commission and have a great deal of support for their judgment,″ he said.

Mrs. Harrington said she did not plan to return to the department after a 90-day leave of absence. An agreement was being worked out for her to receive some type of early retirement benefits.

Deputy Chief Robert Tobin will be interim chief, Clark said. Tobin said at a news conference his top priority would be narcotics enforcement, although no major reorganization was planned.

Clark appointed the commission after Mrs. Harrington said her husband, who works in the personnel division, had alerted Robert Lee that he was the subject of a drug investigation. State and federal prosecutors said in March that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Harrington, and Lee has not been charged in the drug case.

Mrs. Harrington also admitted in April that she had discussed police reports with Lee about a Feb. 11 shooting before details of the case were presented to a grand jury.

Lee had said he shot a transient after the man tried to rob him. The grand jury declined to indict Lee.

The commission found no evidence of criminal activity by either Harrington, but said her husband had violated regulations concerning personal associations and professional conduct. It recommended that he be suspended for 25 days, placed on a year’s disciplinary probation and transferred to a precinct. Clark said he had not yet decided whether to issue such an order.

Mrs. Harrington said her husband, 43, would have no comment on the report.

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