Mary Wheat grew up in Portland, Oregon and received her Bachelors degree from Portland State University. While attending college, Mary joined the ROTC program and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army. Mary left the military as a Captain in 1992 and immediately joined the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) in Portland Oregon.
At PPB, Mary held the assignments of patrol officer, narcotics investigator in a specialized drug unit, detective investigating major assaults, major sexual assaults, child abuse and unsolved cold case homicides.
While assigned as a detective, Mary was asked by the Chief of Police to serve as the public information officer for her organization, and worked for two chiefs and two mayors in that capacity.
Mary joined PPB’s hostage negotiation team in 2002 and served as a negotiator until her retirement in 2016. As a team member, Mary responded to critical incidents and suicide attempts throughout the City of Portland. She held roles as lead negotiator, negotiating coach, intelligence gatherer, and worked closely with the tactical team to develop training for both the negotiating and tactical teams.
Mary received commendation awards from PPB for her work on the hostage negotiation team, the child abuse team and her role in an undercover capacity that lead to the capture and arrest of a serial killer in the Portland area.
In 2012, Mary was asked by then Governor John Kitzhaber to fill the law enforcement seat of the five-person commission overseeing the Oregon Lottery. In 2016, Governor Kate Brown asked Mary to continue serving a second term on the commission.
In addition to her police career, Mary began working in 2011 as an international consultant providing technical assistance to citizen security projects in different parts of the world. Mary has recently expanded to providing security consultation for humanitarian organizations in Central America and recently designed and executed a kidnapping/hostage scenario for the Mercy Corps Guatemalan leadership team.