It has been less than one month since Jacqueline Seabrooks assumed her new position as Chief of the City of Inglewood Police Department (IPD) and already she has made history as the first Black and first female to be sworn-into office for that critical post.
With the official oath of office administered by City Clerk Yvonne Horton and the appropriate welcoming introduction to community members and a reception attended by elected officials, police command and staff personnel, and others behind her, Seabrooks, already a five-year Inglewood resident, can begin to make her mark on a city that has had its share of negative publicity with past as well as fairly recent allegations of police misconduct.
Seabrooks spoke with the Los Angeles Sentinel after eight days in her new assignment and acknowledged that she is enthusiastic about the challenges she is sure to face, her desire to continue the quality leadership provided by her two predecessors, and her desire to build upon the community-oriented policing that is already underway.
In addition to being confronted with a double-homicide just days before assuming her new position, a police officer-involved shooting which resulted in the death of a criminal suspect, the apparent accidental vehicular assault on five teenagers, as well as business as usual in a city that has its fair share of gangs, drugs, and crime, Seabrooks acknowledges that filling open vacancies among the ranks of patrol officers is a top priority.
“We have a number of vacancies in the department and we are actively recruiting and hiring individuals to fill them,” she said. “Inglewood citizens passed Measure IT and that measure provides the funds that are needed to address the fiscal needs of the department.”
She recognizes that there are far more opportunities for qualified police officers in Los Angeles County than there are available candidates who are interested and qualified to fill those vacancies. It will therefore be her challenge, and that of the command staff within the department to not only hire the necessary officers but also to retain the existing ones who may be tempted to pursue employment opportunities outside of The City of Inglewood.
Another critical area that Seabrooks will have to address is the consensus among some Inglewood residents that some of her officers assert unnecessary force in dealing with especially young Black men who may give the appearance of being gang-affiliated.
Most recently, the IPD has yet to release their findings on whether or not the death of a 21-year-old Black man several months ago on Victor Avenue was deemed within or out-of policy. At the time, those who were with the victim just before his killing revealed that he was un-armed and that he had been harassed unnecessarily by IPD officers on two separate occasions, not long before his killing, where he was jailed and later released with no criminal charges being filed, and letters from an Inglewood City Attorney to prove it.
Seabrooks acknowledged that her familiarization with the Victor Avenue, police-involved killing but explained that the investigation has not been completed.
“There are many elements to an investigation of this type,” she explained. “There are internal as well as external investigations and the district attorney’s office must make their assessment. When the investigation is fully completed, I will be in a position to make a statement.”
Finally, on the subject of community policing, probably the most visible method individuals in the community have to measure their opinion about the effectiveness of their police department, Seabrooks said, the IPD “has a community policing foundation, but we can do a better job.”
“The principles of community policing are not a foreign concept,” she continued, “and we will continue to do our job with crime prevention and suppression, traffic enforcement, and other areas of law enforcement. Also,” she added, “the two previous police chiefs did a good job of giving the community a sense of safety in our community and that will continue.”
And, with respect to the Inglewood Citizens Police Commission, headed by Adrianne Sears, Seabrooks noted that even though the body has no formal oversight authority, she looks forward to working with the commission as they develop better communication with the citizens and the police department.
Sears, who reports having had meetings with the new chief, indicated that, in her view, “Seabrooks is very sharp, more than competent, and certainly understands the obligations of law enforcement and its obligation to the community.” She added. “We (members of the Inglewood Police Commission) embrace her desire to be tough on crime but also want to ensure that our police officers treat members of the Inglewood community with dignity and respect. We look forward to working with Chief Seabrooks in improving the public’s level of trust in our police department.”