Don’t Mix Up The Studio One Star With The First Black LAPD Chief, Who Passed Away Today

What’s in a name? Willie L. Williams became Los Angeles’ first African American police chief in the aftermath of the 1992 riots,  died today of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72, reports the L.A. Times. Williams stepped into the top job at the LAPD at a sensitive time, as the department reeled from criticism over its handling of the riots and Los Angeles struggled to mend racial divides. He replaced Daryl Gates, who had long been criticized for running a department that mistreated minority groups, particularly blacks, in Los Angeles. Williams helped usher in a series of reforms in the wake of the Rodney J. King beating. Under him, the department grew by 2,000 officers and the LAPD adopted more “community policing” strategies that were designed to be less confrontational than Gates’ methods. He won credit for restoring confidence to the department. “I was the guinea pig” he once told a Times reporter. Audio After The Jump… Read more »