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
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
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
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 ...as long as she's the best person
for the job.