New Portland police chief ready to continue department's evolution

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PORTLAND — City councilors unanimously confirmed the new police chief Monday evening.

“This is truly an honor and a privilege to be standing here as the 19th police chief of Portland,” Michael Sauschuck said as he addressed the councilors just before they voted.

Sauschuck, who was second in command under previous Chief James Craig and has been acting chief of police since August, possesses the “right mix of intelligence and skill, humor and compassion to make the right chief,” Assistant City Manager Anita LaChance said.

“It’s hard to find anything bad about him,” said police Cmdr. Vern Malloch, who also applied for the position. “I knew he was going to be a tough man to beat and I proved myself right there.”

Sauschuck deflected the praise, saying, “I prefer to focus on others.”

“I learned a great deal from (other officers) and this will continue,” Sauschuck said, describing his colleagues as “family.”

Sauschuck said that catching up on promotions within the department will be among his first tasks.

With the uncertainty of the selection over, the department can now carry on with the departmental changes Craig began that have led to the city’s crime rate dropping by 10 percent in two years, Sauschuck said. As he takes full control of the department, his focus will be “evolution, not revolution,” he said.

“A lot of those initiatives,” including new community policing and crime analysis techniques, “are fledgling, that need to be shepherded forward,” Sauschuck said in a Feb. 2 interview in his office.

The chief, who has embraced computer-driven methods of analyzing crime statistics, said the department will carry on a progressive approach to law enforcement, employing the cutting edge of technology, tactics, education, and community policing.

The chief’s rank wasn’t always his goal.

Throughout his career, he said, he was happy to be patrolling the streets, where “you get an opportunity to work with everybody and represent everybody.”

Andrew Cullen can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Andrew on Twitter: @ACullenFore.

Sidebar Elements

Michael Sauschuck was named Portland’s new chief of police Tuesday, Jan. 31, and was confirmed by the City Council on Monday, Feb. 6. Sauschuck is a 15-year veteran of the department and has served as acting chief since James Craig left the post last August.