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Do We Need A Black Chief ?

I think not

Bill Murray - 4/6/02


Do we need a black Chief?

As a white male, now approaching 50 years of age, I grew up in a time of revolution. It was a time during which many of us came to believe it was not only our right but also our responsibility to stand up for what we believed in to speak out against inequality and to protest injustice.

We did this because we were called to it. Political leaders and activists appealed to our sense of human dignity, and our sense of accountability to each other.

Ours was a spiritual movement.

We were "the people" all of us.

Ringing in our ears were single stirring sentences, rallying cries uttered by our leaders ... from the inaugural address of John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country," and from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "I have a dream "

My generation caused a lot of positive changes back then, and our country is the better for them. We began to feel a human kinship, and to see each other as brothers, no matter what our skin color.

Is the world perfect now? Of course not.

And those days of spiritual revolution are gone far behind us. As a society we seem to have emerged through the last two decades devoid of the sense of a responsibility to serve, to care for each other. We have become exceedingly selfish and self-serving.

We must regain the ability to seek solutions, and move forward still struggling, still growing in our tolerance and understanding of each other, still fighting the good fight but secure in the knowledge that that world will never return.

Sadly, several things have occurred over the past several weeks that lead me to the conclusion that some may have this City poised for possible insurrection. I am told the LAPD is prepared to go on Tactical Alert the day the Commission announces its decision about Chief Parks.

But if this happens it will not be a matter of revolution; it will be a case of simple civil disobedience.

Because let's be honest. Certain "leaders" are using hyperbolic rhetoric and scare tactics to ensure a hungry media "covers" a variety of "events" meant only to draw attention to this as a race issue.

And it's not.

These people have the wonderful ability to bring folks together for worthwhile issues. But it's sad they've chosen to rally crowds together for this. And don't be mistaken; their followers are their followers, not knowledgeable supporters of Chief Parks.

Any political leader who stoops to this level in today's world, rallying "the people" to protect a person's job based on the color of his black skin, rather than evaluating the candidate's accomplishments in all categories, is doing so to merely to draw attention to himself, and is interested only in his own personal gains.

There cannot be any claim they do so on any spiritual basis.

The City of Los Angeles has a far better civil-rights record than most for two decades we had a black Mayor, and we've had long standing black leadership in the City Council. And, I hasten to point out, for the past 10 years we've had a black Chief of Police.

No, this is not a matter of race. This is an issue of job performance.

Bluntly stated, I'm tired of our tiptoeing around, being "politically correct" rather than engaging in a healthy discussion of what's best for Los Angeles.

I'll reiterate here what I said during the public comment period at the Police Commission meeting held back on January 29th at the AME Church.

The event had ceased to be an assembly where any work could be accomplished, and in my mind had turned into an unbecoming pep rally. You see, this preceded the announcement Chief Parks eventually made that he wished to be considered for another term.

That evening, printed posters already proclaimed support of the Chief, and about 60 people came to the public comment mike. Rousing speeches were made, proclaiming a "war" and suggesting near Sainthood for Chief Parks. Almost everyone was engaged in chanting "Five More Years."

Mine was the sole voice that recommended an open-minded evaluation process. Here's what I said over two and a half months ago:

" I want to thank the Commissioners for holding these meetings out in the community, so that the voice of the people, ALL the people, can be heard. I know that you believe, as I do, that this is central to your job.

I am here tonight to express a concern that I believe is truly citywide, the process of selecting the next Chief of Police.

I represent no particular group I have no axe to grind and I am not here to promote any particular candidate.

But it is clear to me that the people of Los Angeles at large are disenfranchised with the Department and Officer moral is very, very low.

I know the sincerity you Commissioners bring to the work you do and that you keep your ears open to hearing community concerns. I know your hearts are in exactly the right place.

As Chief Parks considers announcing his interest in another five years, I respectfully request that the Commission conduct an exhaustive and nationwide search, both inside and outside the Department, for the next LAPD Chief of Police.

I know you'll think of this as perhaps the most important job your Commission will ever do.

The Chief of Police for the City of Los Angeles needs to be not only a good administrator, as Chief Parks surely is, but a person of the people, by the people, and for the people.

But for ALL the people.

This is not a war. It's not a popularity contest. It's not about race. And it's certainly not about politics.

It's about finding the best candidate available. It's about protecting and being of service to the residents of the City of Los Angeles."

My opinion's not changed. I say raise the bar and raise it high. Make this a spiritual quest.

This can be a time when we come together, throwing off the self imposed shackles of division, knowing that our fellows, in the eternal words of Dr. King, " will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

I want the absolute best, and I trust the process to select the best, based not on race but on producing a candidate who has the right skills, and the right vision someone who can reduce violent crime, work with the community at large, engage in "out of the box" programs, be firm but fair with the Officers, and lead the Department with creativity into the 21st Century.

This is a call for unity and calm put an end to the diatribe of discord. It's going to take all of us working together, black, brown and white, to address the many needs of our City of the Angels.

Do we need an "African-American" Chief? I think not no more than we need a "Hispanic-American" Chief, an "Asian-American" Chief, or an American Indian Chief because I don't think that's the issue

No ... we need the best Chief, whoever that may be

And frankly, I don't care if the Commission's choice for the next Chief of Police is purple long as she's the best person for the job.


Note: This list will not be shared with any other group, nor will it be used for purposes other than promoting Los Angeles Community Policing.

Yours in service,

Bill Murray
Bobbie Logan

Thank you for supporting your LAPD Officers.


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