Watch the full ceremony here.
Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell was sworn in as Multnomah County Sheriff on Wednesday, Jan. 4, becoming the first woman to hold the post in the Sheriff’s Office’s nearly 170-year history.
Over 160 people — including former chiefs and captains, community leaders and newly sworn-in Chair Jessica Vega Pederson, alongside other County commissioners — filled the Multnomah Building’s boardroom for the swearing-in ceremony.
Morrisey O’Donnell will lead Oregon’s largest Sheriff’s Office, whose 750-plus sworn and civilian employees provide services throughout the county, including in Maywood Park, Troutdale and Wood Village. She brings more than 26 years of experience, rising in the ranks from deputy to lieutenant to captain, then to Chief Deputy and Undersheriff. She is one of only two Multnomah County sheriffs to hold dual certifications in both police and corrections disciplines. As Sheriff, she oversees a $184 million budget.
Speakers at Wednesday’s event included Musse Olol, president of the Somali American Council of Oregon, and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Chief of Business Services Erin Hubert.
“I personally had the opportunity to meet her and have one-on-one conversations with her,” said Olol, pointing to Morrisey O’Donnell’s participation in large community celebration events, as well as smaller, more conversational ones.
“I’ve always noticed her level of humility and openness to learn from the community. This is the exact combination we need for the ideal sheriff of Multnomah County.”
Morrisey O’Donnell will lead the Sheriff’s Office with distinction, and will serve every community with honor and courage, said Olol.
Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson issued the oath of office while Morrisey O’Donnell’s husband, retired Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputy Bob O’Donnell, pinned on her Sheriff’s badge.
Morrisey O’Donnell earned her degree at the University of Portland and received subsequent training at the Oregon Executive Development Institute and Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association Command College.
Community engagement is a cornerstone of her approach to public safety. Throughout her career, she has helped the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office develop strategies to understand and address the unique needs of our community and is deeply dedicated to building trust through open, honest community partnership and service.
Morrisey O’Donnell acknowledged and thanked the wide array of community members, including friends, family members and fellow members of the Sheriff’s Office, as well as former Sheriff Mike Reese.
Citing the reputation she has built and earned over the course of a career as a “bridge builder among community and system partners,” as well as someone who developed positive strategies for improving trust and safety, Morrisey O’Donnell shared her commitment to being a leader “who helps our agency break barriers and open doors.”
“I will lead the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and serve our community with compassion, pride and unwavering resolve to building stronger communities because building stronger communities makes everyone safer,” she continued. “I am committed to listening to, and learning from all community members to build solutions together to meet the unique public safety needs of each community.”
Morrisey O’Donnell also emphasized her deep commitment to reducing gun violence, a goal grounded in personal experience.
“This stems from an early childhood incident when my father survived a shooting during an armed robbery at his business in our small town,” she shared. “My family and I experienced firsthand the impacts gun violence can have in our home and in our community.”
Preventing violence in all forms remains a top priority, she stressed.
“I will invest in initiatives focused on prevention, intervention and support services through building partnerships with community-based resources and investigative and enforcement efforts,” Morrisey O’Donnell said.
“I will be a leader and develop collaborative strategies to break the cycle of violence, advocate for the voices of victims and survivors, and hold accountable those who do harm in our community.”
Morrisey O’Donnell said that she would work with County health partners to develop an integrated public safety approach that would support a more efficient trauma-informed response to people experiencing behavioral and mental health challenges. That work, she said, would rest on continued partnerships with mental health providers, addiction specialists and social services, and an ongoing focus on outreach efforts, including access to safe housing education and job skills, and treatment opportunities.
She then turned her attention to the employees she now oversees.
“The people who work at the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office are dedicated and extremely hard-working,” she said. “I care about our members and I admire their dedication to the work they do every day for the safety of our community and in service to others.”
Morrisey O’Donnell said that her interactions with people across the county made it clear to her that “we are united in our care and concern for our loved ones. And we want the same things for families, our friends and our neighbors: a safe community where everyone feels welcome.”
“I know this is a big task, and I am honored and encouraged by your trust in me to do this important work,” the new Sheriff said in closing. “I have a heart for service, a strong resolve and it is my life‘s calling.”
Sheriff Morrisey O'Donnell's swearing in was just one of several ceremonies for Multnomah County officials taking place this week. Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson was sworn in Tuesday evening, while Commissioner Diane Rosenbaum was sworn in Wednesday afternoon to represent District 3. Commissioner Susheela Jayapal and Auditor Jennifer McGuirk will be sworn in for their second four-year terms during the regular board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 5.###