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Portland's first openly gay cop passes away from cancer

Mike Garvey was the first openly gay male officer at the Portland Police Bureau and retired as a commander in 2005.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The first openly gay man to work as an officer with the Portland Police Bureau has passed away from cancer at the age of 68.

Mike Garvey began working at PPB in 1977. He retired as a commander in 2005, according to his best friend Robert Ball, who was also a PPB officer. 

"He had the utmost compassion for just ordinary citizens," Ball said. "He never stood for someone treating people badly or the wrong way."

Ball said people were not always kind to Garvey, since he was an openly gay male police officer.

"They left messages on his intercom system saying he shouldn't be a cop," Ball said. "In the face of all of that, he was still a great cop."

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On Mike's Facebook page, tributes came rolling in from people that knew him. Ball said he was an amazing colleague and seemed to have everyone's back. Ball said Garvey is one of the reasons the Portland Police Bureau has become a more inclusive place to work.

"It's an extremely tolerant place for everybody," Ball said. "It does not matter your skin color or sexual orientation. Mike is one of the pioneers that made that happen."

Peter Simpson also worked with Garvey at  PPB. Garvey was one of his first commanding officers at the precinct. 

"Mike really showed how much he cared about the officers and serving Portland," Simpson said. "He cared about the city."

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Ball said Mike was diagnosed with prostate cancer around the holidays over this last winter. He fought hard to beat it, and had just finished building his dream home in Palm Springs, California when he died.

"It's a tragic ending because he never really got to use that beautiful home of his," Ball said.

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