April 28, 2016 

City News Service 


Funeral services were pending this week for Willie Williams, who became the first black chief of the Los Angeles Police Department in the aftermath of the L.A. riots.


Williams, 72, died Tuesday night at his home in Fayetteville, Georgia. A relative said he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.


Williams served as LAPD chief from June 30, 1992, to May 17, 1997. He became the city’s top cop following the resignation of Chief Daryl Gates in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He came to Los Angeles after serving four years as Philadelphia’s police commissioner – the first black person to hold that position. Williams was a Philadelphia police officer for more than 20 years.


With the LAPD in turmoil following the Rodney King beating, the acquittal of the officers involved and the ensuing riots, Williams worked to implement changes in the department to bolster its relationship with black communities in the city.


During his tenure, the LAPD grew by 2,000 officers and the department adopted more “community policing” strategies that were designed to be less confrontational – putting officers on the streets, interacting with the public.


While he won some praise for building community relationships, he leadership style and ability was often called into question by critics, who suggested that improvements in the department were being slowed by a lack of leadership. His bid for a second term as chief was rejected by Police Commission in 1997.


In March of 2002, Williams was appointed as federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration at Atlanta’s Harts­field International Airport.

Category: News