My endorsement for chief
. . . where my support will go
. . .

(from a letter written July 14, 2002)

My endorsement for chief ...

You ask which candidate for chief I might support. While there are several declared candidates I know of who might do a terrific job for both LAPD and the residents of Los Angeles, I also know there are many others who have submitted applications in quieter, non public ways, and at this point no one beyond a very small group even knows of their interest.

Many of these are from out of town.

In a sense, I respect this immensely, because I sincerely wish we'd not see this as either a "political" campaign, or a popularity contest ... to me it's not, or it shouldn't be ... but rather as a fantastic opportunity for the right person to serve as the leader of what may arguably be this City's most important Department, in its most visible role.

I encourage anyone and everyone who believes he or she would make a good chief to apply, and to help shape the future of the LAPD.

My endorsement will go not to any particular candidate but to the process itself, and particularly to the current Police Commission, which has the job of whittling down what eventually could well be a very long list.

I believe these five volunteers have demonstrated an ability beyond that of any group of LA Police Commissioners in the recent past to provide the Department with civilian leadership in spite of tough conditions.

In my eyes, they have risen to the challenge several times already, asserting themselves by deciding not to reappoint the last chief, dealing with a variety of consent decree issues, raising morale and recruitment, improving retention, showing an ability to hear and respond quickly to community concerns, and finding us a wonderful Temporary Chief to boot.

They've also managed to include the community-at-large at every step. The recently completed set of seven "community criteria meetings" held all over the City is an excellent example of this.

As you know, my advocacy is for robust, real and enlightening interaction between all the residents of Los Angeles and every level of government, and I believe a unique opportunity exists in this moment to create a system of community policing beyond what's been imagined locally before.

I believe it's extremely healthy for command staff personnel at LAPD to make themselves regularly available by appearing in public, attending community meetings and forums, engaging in meaningful dialoging with residents, and inviting the community with open arms into the task of providing public safety.

At this moment, there's a particularly obvious mutual benefit to these encounters.

In the first place, while one of these current commanding officers may well be selected for the single Chief of Police position open, the majority will stay with the Department holding important roles, and knowledge of community criteria now will go a long way towards shaping the LAPD of the near future.

On the other hand, the community wants and deserves a wholesome relationship with every officer, rank and file to chief, and this is a particularly unique time for the declared candidates to take advantage of the opportunity to share their vision for how community policing can take shape in the City of Los Angeles.

In the end it's my belief there's no single criteria item that should be required of a candidate ... the ability to speak a language, to be a certain sex or sexual orientation, to hold, or not hold, any particular religious belief, to be of one ethnic background or another, to be from within the LAPD or not ... none of these should make or break a decision.

It's the job of the Commission, a group of volunteer community people in which I have every faith, to review all the material provided by all the applicants, and to take an unemotional look at the background and history of each.

It's the job of the Commission to forward the names of the three best candidates to the Mayor, and he, I'm sure, is keen to pick someone who, besides having a proven track record of administrative and people skills, will (1) have a deep appreciation for, vision of, and commitment to, community based policing, and (2) someone who will be able to immediately pass "the smell test" for the mutual benefit of the residents and reputation of Los Angeles overall, and specifically the future of the LAPD.

So I'll support the process itself, and my endorsement will go to the members of this current Police Commission, and the Mayor behind them, who I trust have what's best for the community at heart, and will be far better informed about the applicants than I could ever be.

Yours in service,

Bill Murray
LA Community Policing