Los Angeles-area Black community and religious leaders discuss new vision of leadership with L.A. County’s top cop
On Friday, Feb. 3, First AME Senior Pastor J. Edgar Boyd called together some of Los Angeles County’s most influential African American leaders to meet with newly-elected Sheriff Robert Luna and some of his newly-appointed leadership team to discuss his plans and vision for the Sheriff’s Department and how the community and the Sheriff’s Department can work more effectively together to improve relationships and gain a better understanding of the issues and concerns that both groups have with each other.
As the meeting began, Sheriff Luna set an extremely different tone and approach than his predecessor, former Sheriff Alex Villanueva, had in any of the previous meetings he conducted during his four-year tenure as the top cop in Los Angeles County.
Luna, while clearly confident and in charge, was honest and direct with the group of African American leaders as he discussed ways that the Sheriff’s Department and the African American community could work to have better relations and a more open dialogue moving forward.
Pastor Boyd opened the meeting with a prayer and then welcomed everyone in attendance. “This is a historical moment as we sit hear to meet and discuss with the county’s top cop who comes here wanting to dialogue, engage and build a coalition of leadership between his department and our communities leadership,” said Boyd.
Attendees at the meeting included Michael Lawson and Cynthia Heard, CEO and COO, respectively, of the Los Angeles Urban League; the Rev. Dr. Larry Campbell, president of the Southern California AME Ministerial Alliance and senior pastor of First AME Church in Pasadena; the Rev. Dr. Mary S. Minor, senior pastor of Brookins-Kirkland AME Church; the Rev. Louis Tillman, associate pastor of Holman United Methodist Church; the Rev. Carolyn Baskin-Bell, senior pastor of First AME – Santa Monica; the Rev. Darryl Walker, senior pastor of New Philadelphia AME Church in Long Beach; the Reverend Oliver Bouie, associate minister at Holman United Methodist Church; Pastor Christian Ponciano of Los Angeles, NAACP Los Angeles President Latricia Mitchell, the Rev. Janie Johnson of Murph Chapel-St. Paul AME Church in Valinda; Starlett and Rochelle Quarles of The Bedford Group, James Jones of South Bureau Maintenance Alliance, Deacon Elvin Moon of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, Rev. Eduardo Vickers and Rosie Median of First AME Church – Los Angeles, as well as Eileen Decker, Laise Norman, Jan Wong and Lt. Jorge Marchena of the L.A. County Sheriffs’ office.
Luna also introduced April Tardy, a long-time veteran whom he has appointed as the first African American woman to serve as the agency’s undersheriff. In addressing the leadership group, Tardy explained that she is a 28-year employee of the department who has served in a variety of jobs during her service.
She recently served as the chief of the department’s Central Patrol Division. Also, she is both the first female and the first African American undersheriff in the department’s 172-year history.
Luna explained to the group that in addition to the appointment of Tardy as Undersheriff, which means she is oversees the day-to-day operations of the entire department, he has also appointed Jason Skeen as interim chief of staff, he said.
“Both of these talented and experienced law enforcement leaders share my vision of a sheriff’s department and I am confident that in working together we will have the type of transparent department that I promised during my campaign,” noted Luna.
Also attending the meeting was Max Huntsman from the Los Angeles County Inspector General’s Office. Luna and Huntsman pointed out that the two of these men just being in attendance at the meeting together was a far cry from the previous Sheriff’s leadership, who not only would have never voluntarily attended a community meeting together, but under Villanueva’s direction, the Inspector General was not allowed to enter into any of the Sheriff’s Department facilities.
At the conclusion of the meeting, some of the African American leaders expressed cautious optimism that relationships between the Black community and the Sheriff’s Department could improve during Luna’s term.