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Willie L. Williams

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Chief William L. Williams worked his way up from rookie patrolman at age twenty in 1964 to become commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department in 1988.  In 1992, William Williams became the fiftieth chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and the first African-American chief of the department.  Chief William L. Williams is the author of Taking Back Our Streets: Fighting Crime in America.

According to the Library Journal, “That Los Angeles police chief Williams is upbeat shines through everything he has to say about his four years' tenure in L.A., his service before that in Philadelphia, and the country's prospects for fighting urban crime. Only a hopeful, positive, and competent person would sign on for a police department and a city wracked by the Rodney King trial riots and the exodus of elected officials from the city. Even as Williams was uplifting and retraining his demoralized police and giving the public renewed confidence in them, his department has faced a whole series of new traumas: the second King trial and its threat of riot; the Reginald Denny trial; the earthquake; the Michael Jackson child molestation probe; the Heidi Fleiss prostitution case; and the O.J. Simpson trial. Williams is the very model of a modern policeman. He is African American but considers himself "blue" first; he talks and listens to his officers; he believes in community policing, conceptualizing police work in the framework of the larger community, talking and listening there, too, and relying in turn on the community for support. The final chapter is a shopping list of what communities can do "to take back their streets." Recommended for popular and academic criminal justice collections.”

TAKING BACK OUR STREETS: Fighting Crime in America
Willie L. Williams  More Info

From the History of the Los Angeles Police Department (lapdonline.org)

The year 1850 found our eager, young nation caught up in a whirlwind of exciting events. The three preceding years had seen tens of thousands of prospectors from around the world lured to California by the promise of sudden riches in the gold fields. The end of the Mexican War had added vast territories to the United States. California was welcomed into the Union as a state and the new state conferred cityhood on the once obscure pueblo of Los Angeles with its 1,610 inhabitants.

For many years thereafter, Los Angeles continued to reel under the impact of an arriving population for which it was totally unprepared. Hundreds of families of law-abiding farmers, ranchers, and storekeepers settled here, but so did gamblers, disillusioned miners from the Sierra foothills, saloonkeepers, horse thieves, and renegades. The Wild West indeed was never wilder.

The creation of what loosely may be called the City’s first Police Department resulted from an 1853 murder. The victim was Jack Whaling, the community’s second City Marshal. His killer met death at the hands of a bounty hunter. This prompted the City’s first "Chief," Dr. A.W. Hope, to organize "The Los Angeles Rangers," who volunteered to assist the beleaguered County Sheriff and Marshal. The Rangers were identified by a white ribbon bearing the imprint in both English and Spanish "City Police - Authorized by the Council of Los Angeles."

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