The George Floyd murder and the conviction of his killer law enforcement officer marks the end of yet another law enforcement use of force incident that, for some finally melted out justice. Officer Chauvin received the longest jail sentence for a use of force by a law enforcement officer in history. For others, the sentence was still too lenient, because for far too long, African Americans, men in particular, have been targeted and brutalized by the police, and often without consequence. Calls for reform have only brought about incremental changes in how the police perform their duties, particularly in inner cities. What we need to realize is that despite past reforms such as the development and use of less lethal devices such as TASERs, rubber projectiles, the elimination of heavy flashlights, and more training in de-escalation, George Floyd is still not among the living today. None of those “reforms” saved his life. None of those reforms prompted Officer Chauvin to exercise common sense, compassion, common decency and perhaps swallow a bit of his pride to let Mr. Floyd off the ground. What needs to be changed is the culture of policing, particularly in the inner city.
While there have been two African American Chiefs of Police for the City of Los Angeles, there has never been an African American elected Sheriff in Los Angeles County. Indeed, there have been Latino and White Sheriffs, but never in the history of Los Angeles County Politics has an African American/Bi-racial candidate run for the office with enough experience, gravitas, energy, and a history of community engagement as the current candidate, Cecil Rhambo. In all candor, there have been few candidates ever to run for the office of Sheriff that match Rhambo’s experience and background. If we were to remove race, gender, and names, comparing Rhambo’s resume to almost all previous elected Sheriff’s would clearly place him in the top rankings of “most qualified” candidate in perhaps a century.
The question before us is can a Black man, a bi-racial man, literally a foster child, abandoned at a Korean orphanage from Compton and South Los Angeles win an election as Sheriff in Los Angeles County? We believe so and we believe he should. California has elected only 33 Sheriff’s since 1850. We are not asking voters to elect the FIRST Black man to the office of Sheriff for posterity, social placation or as a token. We are urging the voters to recognize over 40 years of tireless public service, hard work, collaboration, relationship building, community outreach, innovation, imagination, leadership, self sacrifice, education, diverse experience and integrity to lead the largest Sheriff’s Department in the nation and carry with it a wave of cultural change within law enforcement that we believe will help lead the way for a new beginning for policing throughout the Country.