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Bend’s new police chief takes reins: Mike Krantz talks of tear gas, protests and trust

(Adding new video, more comments from chief)

'I would hate to judge someone based on where they're from'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Bend's new police chief, chosen from the embattled city of Portland, was sworn in Monday, as Mike Krantz asked residents to give him a chance and not judge him by the violence that has racked that city in recent months.

Krantz makes the transition to Bend after serving with the Portland Police Bureau for 27 years, most recently holding the position of assistant police chief.

Bend's recent hire has been marred with controversy over the past month, with some local organizations and community members, including several Bend clergy, expressing their distaste with the decision over social media, in open letters and at Bend City Council meetings.

While the city engaged in a broad-ranging stakeholder involvement in the process, City Manager Eric King is the one in the end responsible for the hire, making it his fourth selection of a new police chief in the past 13 years.

Krantz impressed city councilors as well, beating out 40 applicants and five finalists for the position.

But since then, some in the community have said they believe an outside hire was not the appropriate move at this time of intense police scrutiny -- and if so, not from Portland.

NewsChannel 21 had an exclusive in-person interview with Krantz late Monday afternoon, asking about his views on police use of tear gas and conduct during protests, as well as what he hopes to accomplish in Bend.

One initial message to the citizens he serves was: Please give me a chance.

"I would hate to judge someone based on where they're from," Krantz said. "I want to know people, and not just simply make a judgement based on one very limited thing." 

Although many disagree with an outsider coming in to run the department, Krantz said he believes the city can benefit from a different lens and viewpoint.

Krantz said believes the Bend department already is a great one, but he wants to continue to earn more trust within the community and improve on the agency's consistently high approval rating of 80% or more.

Protesters have criticized the frequent use of tear gas in Portland, so we asked Krantz if he would ever engage in the use of it in Bend.

"Tear gas is something I would use as the last resort to prevent another, very dangerous level of force," Krantz said. "It's not something that would ever be used for normal activities, such as a peaceful protest."

Although he does not foresee tear gas being used by his department, he told us he would not take anything off the table, due to every law enforcement situation being unique.

Krantz also said he is open to starting the conversation with the community in order to find the safest alternatives to de-escalate violent situations.

"I think there's some misinformation out there, and maybe fears of what's being seen on TV, so I think it's important to distinguish between peaceful and violent protests," Krantz said.

Krantz said he has always viewed himself as a constitutional police executive.

"I will be a loyal public servant in ensuring that people have their ability to express their rights," Krantz said. "People deserve their freedom of speech, even if it's against me or police actions."

The new police chief said he will do his best to listen, and believes this community and state will get through this difficult, complicated time together.

Krantz said he wants to get involved within the community as soon as possible, so people can make their own judgments of his merit, but that he also understands that COVID-19 presents an uphill battle in that regard.

For now, Krantz said he is hoping to earn Bend's trust.

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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.


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