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The LAPD: Chief Parker
It may have been coincidence that the Department’s most distinguished Chief took office during the City’s centennial in 1950. William H. Parker was destined to remain Chief until his death 16 years later, longer than anyone before or since. His leadership, integrity, and zeal brought him international renown. He streamlined the entire Department, rigidly enforced Civil Service procedures, insisted that the public be kept informed of Department activities, demanded discipline, eliminated wasteful spending, and pioneered narcotics and civil rights enforcement. Congress and governments throughout the world sought his expertise, and his honors were legion. For many, he remains the prototype of the ideal Chief.
On the night of July 16, 1966, after receiving yet another commendation, Chief Parker was stricken with a fatal heart attack. Shortly thereafter, the Department’s administrative headquarters on North Los Angeles Street was officially named Parker Center.
To quote from one of his biographers, "Parker’s death ended an era – possibly the most productive and renowned in the history of American municipal law enforcement. He left a tradition and an example; a tradition to be maintained by all future Los Angeles police officers and an example for all police agencies to follow. His legacy provides hope that honest, professional law enforcement is not just a dream but an attainable goal." Deputy Chief Thad F. Brown assumed interim command of the Department following Parker’s death, serving until Thomas Reddin was appointed Chief in 1967. Another Deputy Chief, Roger E. Murdock, took office after Reddin’s retirement, pending the promotion of Chief Edward M. Davis.