Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief William Scott said he will miss home but is looking forward to rising up to new challenges when he takes a position as San Francisco’s police chief in about four weeks. Mayor Ed Lee reportedly recruited Scott on the heels of several police shootings in the city involving African Americans and Latinos. His new job, he told the Sentinel on Tuesday, is not to go into the department to make changes, but to implement changes the organization has already established.
“I’m coming in to facilitate what’s already going on,” he said.
“I’m making sure there is a plan and a process to get to where we need to get to in terms of fixing those things that [the shootings] uncovered. What I look at is the process. How the department dealt with those incidents and what did they learn from it. That’s with any department, including LAPD… what do we do moving forward to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“I do think, in my research and everything that I’ve studied and read [I’ve seen that] they have done that. They have made some adjustments. [So] you’ve got to look at the process… what’s the commitment to make sure that those changes really happen. So, those are all challenges but thankfully, they have already started that process…”
For the last 27 years, the 52-year-old officer has led Los Angeles’ South Bureau working assignments in patrol, detectives, gangs, Operations West Bureau, Internal Affairs, Professional Standards Bureau, the Office of Operations, Patrol Commanding Officer and Area Commanding Officer. He is a graduate of the Senior Management Institute of Policing (SMIP), and has a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. According to news reports from San Francisco, Mayor Lee may garner criticism of himself for choosing an outside candidate for the position as opposed to the perceived front runner Toney Chaplin, currently SFPD’s acting police chief.
Chaplin is also African American. Meanwhile, Scott said he will always consider Los Angeles home and that he would be a frequent visitor.
“[San Francisco] is really an honor. I’m humbled. It’s a huge challenge and I definitely understand the responsibilities and the expectations in front of me. [But that being said] I must also say that I will always love L.A. and the people I’ve met through my journey through LAPD and friends that I’ve made and all that.
“That’s the hardest part of this really, is just leaving those people. I mean I love the organization that I’ve called home for the last 27 years. It’s more about the people though…”
Los Angeles Sentinel Publisher Danny Bakewell Sr. agrees.
“Scott is not only a policeman, he is a community man,” he said.
“What makes him a unique person in this day in age in law enforcement is he can be called upon and relied upon and unfortunately in L.A. he will be missed. We wish him all the best and San Francisco got themselves a hell of a police chief.”
Said LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck, “The Bay Area’s gain is LA’s loss. Bill’s tactical skills, intelligence and kindness embody the spirit of our department.”
Scott credits many people for his success in law enforcement but none more than his mother, he said.
“Her name was Thelma Scott,” he told the Sentinel.
“She is deceased now but she was an inspiration to me and raised us well and taught me the things that I needed to do to be a productive citizen and a good human being. She was an inspiration.”
Sixty one candidates applied to the job in San Francisco, according to news reports from SFGATE.com.
His longtime administrative experience plus his work dealing with police reform here, figured into Lee’s decision, they said.
They also said Scott’s appointment came at a “crucial moment for San Francisco police.”
On Wednesday night, the Police Commission in San Francisco addressed a new set of use-of-force policies sharply opposed by the police union, they said.
For instance, “officers would be prohibited from shooting at moving vehicles — a mandate that has been adopted in many places but, according to the police union, would leave officers with no option if a homicidal motorist started running people down.
“The neck hold known as the “carotid restraint” would also be barred. But without first supplying officers with stun guns as an alternative, the cops would have no choice but to use more lethal force, the police union argued…”
“We are changing as a city,” Lee said. “We are changing on the standards of what we expect the officers to do.”
“I’m happy for the people of San Francisco, I think they couldn’t have made a better choice than Bill Scott,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
“He’s been a real asset to the South Bureau of LAPD, with supportive community policing, deep community relationships as well as stellar crime prevention numbers. I call on the mayor and Chief [Charlie] Beck to ensure that we get commiserate leadership that has a high regard for community policing, community relations and crime prevention like Chief Scott. We really let a good one get away.
“South Bureau is very important to the city of L.A. People say as South Bureau goes, so goes the entire Los Angeles Police Department. With Chief Scott’s leadership, he helped bring about very good public safety numbers at a time when crime was dramatically going up across the country. It’s a bureau that has a disproportionate amount of officer involved shootings and homicides but he’s been able to keep people involved and keep people talking…”