Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese
Kirk Albanese, LAPD’s Man in South Los Angeles
Lately, the “new and improved” LAPD has been making bold efforts reaching out to the Black community; one of those efforts is the introduction of Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, whose command includes 77th Street Station.
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Assistant Managing Editor
Observing Deputy Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Kirk Albanese at a community forum tells the story of a police department that has undergone change. But don’t be misled, there is still room for improvement and Albanese is charged with the responsibility of demonstrating that the changes thus far are not superficial; that they are lasting and permanent.
“The issue of the Los Angeles Police Department and its relationship with the community,” he said, “is one that is an ongoing work on the part of the community and the police. It is our strong to create an environment where we can reduce the fear–fear that exist from crime and fear that exists from the perception of crime. Clearly we want to reduce the existence of tangible crime.”
When a community resident at the above-mentioned community forum complained to Albanese about his inability to reach the lead officer in the police station in his neighborhood, it was a teachable moment to have seen how the deputy chief literally bent over backwards to accommodate the concerns of the clearly frustrated resident. Albanese allayed some of the man’s repeated frustration by giving the name of his neighborhood station’s lead officer and promising to reach out to him the next day to see if he was able to reach him. And the exchange was genuine between both parties.
Albanese has assumed the post of the late Deputy Chief Kenneth “Kenny” Garner an African American who was from the neighborhood and had a good working relationship with the community. Chief William Bratton, in explaining his placement of Albanese to replace Garner said, in essence, that he believed in putting the best-qualified person to fill the post and in this case, the best man to be the commanding officer of Operations South Bureau is Albanese.
As a 29-year veteran of the department, Albanese has held assignments in patrol, gang enforcement, narcotics, Internal Affairs, juvenile and administrative positions. It is important to note that most of his assignments have been in South Los Angeles and the fact that he came through the ranks mostly in the area that he now commands is a substantial plus. He is familiar with the turf. As a sergeant, Albanese supervised a community-policing unit and as a lieutenant, he was assigned to Internal Affairs.
Both those assignments are directly related to how South Los Angeles residents view the police and are viewed by the police. The caustic relationship between the LAPD and the community runs deep and there is a lot of work to be done to establish a healthy environment. There have been some press reports that have labeled Albanese community unfriendly and a fallback to the old days of the LAPD. However, understanding the past is one of the ways of building a bridge to the future.
“We address community needs in a timely manner,” Albanese continued, “but there has to be that ongoing dialogue for us to make this work. It has to be a two-way street. The community needs to communicate with the police and the police needs to communicate with the community in order to create an environment that’ll be safe for everyone.”
One of Albanese’s focuses was communicating and working together to impact a safer quality of life, and as a family man himself, he seems to be heralding these positions from a personal vantage point. In other words, he seems to be saying that we are all in this together.
As the commanding officer of the South Bureau, Albanese is responsible for 77th Street, Southwest, Southeast, and Harbor Areas, along with South Traffic Division. Operations-South Bureau covers an area of 67 square miles and serves more than 700,000 community members with 1500 officers and 159 civilian employees. And he is the new face of the LAPD in South Los Angeles.