Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Deaths Elsewhere: Willie L. Williams

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Deaths Elsewhere: Willie L. Williams

Article excerpt

Willie L. Williams * The first black police chief in Philadelphia and in Los Angeles, where he took over in the wake of the Rodney King riots, has died. He was 72.

His daughter-in-law Valerie Williams said that he died Tuesday evening (April 26, 2016) at his home in Fayetteville, Ga. She said he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

In Los Angeles, Mr. Williams was selected in April 1992 to succeed police Chief Daryl Gates, whose tenure had been shaken when four white officers were accused of beating King, a black motorist. Gates was still in charge when the officers were acquitted, resulting in a riot that left parts of the city in ashes.

An outsider chosen over a field of insiders, Mr. Williams was given a mandate to restore public confidence and department morale. The following month voters amended the city charter to remove civil service protection for the chief's job and limit the position to a five-year term, renewable once by the Police Commission, the department's civilian overseers. …

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