Portland's police chief goes on Christmas Eve patrol

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Even for an experienced chief of police, working patrol on this Christmas Eve turned into an unusual night.

"It has been busy," said Portland Police Chief Mike Reese. "We came out of roll call, and we've gone call-to-call. This is the first break we've had."

Seconds later, Reese was back behind the wheel of his police cruiser on his way to yet another call. It was an attempted robbery. Police caught a suspect.

Chief Reese says he took on patrol duty for Christmas Eve for one simple reason.

"One of our patrol officers has the night off and I have the privilege of working for him. And to really honor and respect the work that these officers do, and I really appreciate the fact that they're out here night after night no matter what," Reese said.

It's work that seems to be paying off. Major crime is down 5 percent over last year. Murders are down almost 50 percent. There were 24 at this time last year. There have been 13 this year.

"There's a lot of factors that drive crime down," said Reese. "The economy's improving. I think we're using really good police tactics and good, smart policing."

But one trend continues. Portland's streets remain deadly for drivers and pedestrians.

"We've had more traffic fatalities this year than we've had homicides," said Reese. "So yeah, please be safe if you're out driving."