September 6, 2016
Los Angeles, California
…Bosch had an idea what was coming. The fixer was here now. The investigation was about to go through the spin cycle where decisions and public pronouncements would be made based on what best served the department, not the truth.”
From Angels Flight by Michael Connelly
LAPD CHIEF WILLIAM H. PARKER:
WHITE KNIGHT BLACK KNIGHT
THE WHITE KNIGHT
Robert “Bob” Taylor is the Immediate Past Chairman of the Los Angeles Police Museum’s Board of Directors. In the April/May 2016 Museum’s newsletter known as “The Hot Sheet, ” Bob devoted the entire edition to the memory of former LAPD police chief William H. Parker. (This year is the fiftieth anniversary of Parker’s death in 1966.)
Bob has written an outstanding article summarizing Chief Parker’s life and service to the City of Los Angeles. I highly recommend you take the time to read it in its entirety. It is attached here as a PDF and can also be read on-line at the following link which will direct you to it at the Police Museum’s web page.
THE BLACK KNIGHT
In the eyes of most of the LAPD Chief William H. Parker remains legendary. Right up there with men like Gen. George S. Patton and J. Edgar Hoover. In 1950, he took command of a highly corrupt Department and for the next sixteen years ruled with an iron fist, retooled and professionalized the Police Academy training and marketed his “New Breed” by turning on the bright klieg lights of Hollywood, capturing national attention with the introduction of the new TV series, “Dragnet” starring, Sgt. Joe “Just the Facts” Friday (Jack Webb) and positioning his “No. 2 Man” Chief Thad Brown as the show’s technical advisor.
Chief Parker known as “Whiskey Bill” was tough as nails hard and uncompromising. Here is a personal anecdote to illustrate the point.
In 1964, I was a rookie patrol officer with just over a year on the job. I was assigned to Wilshire Division, Morning Watch.
One morning, at about 4:00 A.M. the following broadcast was received from Communications Division. “Attention all Wilshire Division patrol officers. Report to Wilshire Station “Code 2.” (Code for “immediately, without delay.) I and my partner, along with all of the other uniformed officers (about ten two-man teams as I recall) did so, and the Watch Commander had all of us report upstairs to the Roll Call Room.
We were lined up side by side in a long row, order to “attention” and the Watch Commander, accompanied by a middle-aged woman of Chinese decent entered the squad room, and the two of them did a “walk by” as she looked into each one of our faces. The two then left and we were then ordered back to the field to resume our patrol duties.
Long story short, turns out that the woman had been walking home from a local bar, highly intoxicated and was stopped as she was about to enter her apartment, by a uniformed officer and his young probationer, who had just graduated from the Academy. Both officers approached her on the sidewalk and it was obvious that she was intoxicated. The senior officer then ordered his partner to “get in the car and listen to the police radio in case we get a hot call. I’ll make sure she gets to her apartment OK.” The rookie followed orders and sat in the patrol car. About fifteen minutes later, his partner came out of the apt building, and they resumed patrol.
A few minutes later, the woman’s boyfriend returned home, found her asleep on the couch in what can only be described as a highly compromised condition. (Her face and clothing were covered with semen.) She informed her boyfriend that a police officer had threatened to arrest her for “drunk and disorderly” but would “let her slide if she gave him a blowjob.” She did, and he did, returning to his partner who unaware of any misconduct or crime waited patiently in the car.
The irate boyfriend drove her to Wilshire Station and informed the Watch Commander who then immediately had all of his patrol officers report to the station for a “live show-up.”
The victim subsequently positively identified the one officer from the show-up, he and his partner were interviewed, the senior officer admitted it and his partner, rightfully claimed, “no knowledge.” In a later “Board of Rights Hearing” Chief Parker had both officers fired on the spot. Parker’s position in regards to the rookie/probationer was ” no matter, he should not have allowed his partner to go with the woman by himself.” (The probationer on appeal was later reinstated.)
The point of the story being that for Chief Parker there were no “mitigating circumstances.” Policework like Life was “Black and White.” There was only “Good and Bad.” “Right and Wrong.” Unfortunately, this “philosophy” and his personal view of life, carried over to his troops and became a “Us and Them” mentality, which Parker strongly promoted calling it “proactive policing.” These hardline attitudes divided the citizenry and would be partly to blame for what two years into my career under Parker’s command became known as, “The Watts Riots.” (As noted by many researchers, the underlying causes of the Watts Riots were many and LAPD’s “proactive, hardline policing” was only one piece of a very complex puzzle.)
In Black Dahlia Avenger II, I include a chapter that contains several important sections that focus on Chief William H. Parker. As introduction to that section I wrote:
In 1963, as young, idealistic rookie cops, my partners and I really believed we were Chief Parker’s “Thin Blue Line.” At police academy graduation, he looked us in the eye, shook our hand, and told us that was so. Life for me back then was literally and philosophically, “black and white.”
Today, decades later, I realize that neither life nor people were ever that simple. Most of us are a combination of the two—black and white—which makes for lots of gray.
Today, with a much fuller historical perspective and understanding, I realize that my early hero, Chief Parker, was both a white and a black knight.
In that chapter, I include: “Parker on Police” which presents Parker’s 1949 private verbatim conversations with LAPD Vice-Sergeant, Charles Stoker as discussed in Stoker’s 1950 expose, Thicker’N Thieves.
I also quote from Parker’s book, Parker on Police (Charles C. Thoms, Springfield, Ilinois 1957) which includes his 1954, direct testimony before the Appropriations Committee, House of Representatives, in Washington, DC. Parker in speaking to the Committee, introduces his theory on, “The Law of Double Effect.” He uses this concept in his defense to push for the passage of laws allowing police to eavesdrop using hidden microphones and recording devices to crush crime. (As we know, this was done by DA/LAPD at the Hodel residence just three years earlier on the Black Dahlia Task Force stakeout.)
I am here attaching a PDF scan of that section of Black Dahlia Avenger II, for those interested in obtaining a deeper understanding of Chief Parker’s philosophy, coming from his own mouth.