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Lessly "Count" Fisher

Band leader, nightclub owner, and police chief Lessly “Count” Fisher was born on August 19, 1923 in Canton, Mississippi to Ruby Mosby Fisher and future steelworker Seaser Fisher. Fisher was given the nickname of “Count” by Count Basie. He grew up in the New Edition section of East Chicago, Indiana and attended Calumet Elementary School, Garfield Elementary School, and Columbus School, Fisher graduated from Washington High School in 1941. An accident in the steel mill inspired him to join his cousin, Wallace Hayes playing drums for the Nightsteppers. Fisher, along with childhood friend Jack McDuff, learned to read music from Jesse Evans while working as driver and bodyguard for entertainment businessman, Jake Brennan.

Touring the Midwest, Fisher’s band also included Schoolboy Porter, Johnny Mott, Bill Lane and Aretta Lamar. In 1951, he met and toured several cities with singer Eve Rene. Later reunited with Rene, they played Indianapolis’ Joy Lounge and the Hubbub. Fisher married Eve Rene and established the Carousel Club in the late 1950s. Over the years, they featured The Hampton Family, Rodney Dangerfield, June Christie, Leroy Vinegar, Freddie Hubbard, George Kirby, Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley, Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, John Coltrane and James Brown. The Fishers also participated in muscular dystrophy telethons with Lorne Greene. From 1963 to 1965, the couple operated the Chateau de Count et Eve near the Indiana State Capitol. There, they showcased Roy Hamilton, Lula Reed and Motown acts along with many other names.

In 1966, Fisher and Eve Rene moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan and performed at the London House as the house band. Eventually, Fisher moved away from show business and took a job as Sheriff’s Deputy for Kent County, Michigan. He was also Idlewild, Michigan’s first chief of police. Fisher and wife, Eve, a retired civil servant, lived in Grand Rapids. Their son, Rodney, is a musician who once portrayed Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic.

Lessly "Count" Fisher was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 10, 2007.

Fisher passed away on November 22, 2015.

Accession Number

A2007.082

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/10/2007

Last Name

Fisher

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Count

Schools

Washington High School

Calumet Elementary School

Garfield Elementary School

Columbus School

First Name

Lessley

Birth City, State, Country

Canton

HM ID

FIS01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hammond, Indiana, Austin, Texas

Favorite Quote

Let There Be Light, And There Was Light.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

8/19/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Grand Rapids

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

11/22/2015

Short Description

Nightclub owner, police chief, and bandleader Lessly "Count" Fisher (1923 - 2015 ) owned The Carousel Club nightclub where such acts as Redd Foxx, Rodney Dangerfield, and John Coltrane performed.

Employment

Carousel Club

Chateau de Conte et Eve

Kent County (Mich.)

Idlewild Police Department

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:15102,424:21510,495:28160,547:56024,760:56276,765:56528,770:56780,775:65406,900:69780,947$0,0:15460,162:50010,619:55690,786:56170,796:56570,802:57130,811:65611,1075:66997,1151:123350,1711:126302,1800:126876,1808:148120,1952:149384,2203:161668,2391:198964,2850:199328,2855:201785,2927:204138,3241:214678,3330:246585,3673:262670,3747:267270,3806:270106,3956:276830,4085:288939,4180:322000,4463
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lessly "Count" Fisher's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lessly "Count" Fisher lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes the racial discrimination in Canton, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his father's escape from Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his father's move to Calumet, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his parents' education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his early personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers working at the Inland Steel Company

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls his childhood pastimes

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes the New Addition gang in East Chicago, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls the radio programs of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers Joe Louis and Jack Johnson

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes the influence of his teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers graduating from Washington High School in East Chicago, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls his experiences in fights

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers wrestling at Washington High School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls his early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers his early musical career

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers working for Jake Brenneman

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers performing in nightclubs in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls being hired by Jake Brenneman

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his early career

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers his fellow musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lessly "Count" Fisher talks about touring as a musician

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lessly "Count" Fisher talks about contemporary music

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his income as a musician

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls how he met his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls purchasing a nightclub in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers the entertainment at his nightclub

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers his nightclub's patrons

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers the rules at his nightclub

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers hiring John Coltrane and Elvin Jones

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls being cheated by a bartender

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers selling the Chateau de Count et Eve nightclub

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers joining the police department

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls his business ventures in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls becoming the chief of police in Lake County, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls his career as the chief of police in Idlewild, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his retirement

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Lessly "Count" Fisher reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lessly "Count" Fisher reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers raising his children

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his hopes for the world

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lessly "Count" Fisher narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Lessly "Count" Fisher talks about contemporary music
Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers joining the police department
Transcript
Now did you have a chance to cut any records or anything?$$No. I had a chance but I didn't cut 'em.$$Okay. Why not?$$I don't--crazy. Just like my wife [HistoryMaker Lois Fisher] should've been cut. If she had've been cut, she'd been on top right now. You ought to hear her, she's tough. She's one of the finest singers in the country right now. Well, right now she is the finest, 'cause all these little funky singers that thinking they singers, and I hope you print this, all them people that think they are musicians ain't nothing today. They can't read, they can't sang, they talk, they rap, they talk bull, they make--they talk the wrong sentences, they say the nastiest things on records today. They ain't got no voice, they holler. And how they make that much money I don't know. And you can quote Count Fisher [HistoryMaker Lessly "Count" Fisher] for saying that.$$Well, now, okay. Well--$$And if they don't like it, come see me.$I know you did some, did some music gigs around here [Grand Rapids, Michigan] as well, but you ended up joining the police department. How did that happen?$$Was working--$$Was it a sheriff's department (unclear) (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Sheriff's department.$$Sherriff's department.$$I was working in--I don't know--downtown, was working one of the clubs and the boss of the friend of the court frequented the place I worked. He was a singer and he liked what we was playing, and he asked me one night to let him sing. I said, "Come on, you know." I let anybody, you know, if you can do it. He sang, and he sang pretty good. So he started coming in and started to singing and he liked to sing. He started coming one night and then he coming two nights, then he started to coming in three nights a week. So one night, walked up to me and was talking, and he said, "How'd you like to be policeman?" And I laughed at-"What the hell you talking 'bout?" What's his name--Bill Rowe [ph.]. I said, "What you talking 'bout, Bill?" He said, "How you--I think you'd make a good cop." I said, "Man, you got to be silly." He said, "Well, you think about it." He started to singing, you know. So, a couple more nights he come back, he said, "Count Fisher [HistoryMaker Lessly "Count" Fisher]," he said, "I'd like for you to be one of my deputies." I said, "What you mean one of your deputies?" (Laughter) And he told me who he was. "Oh, man, you kidding?" I said, "Well, let me talk to my wife [HistoryMaker Lois Fisher]," I'm kidding. So I went and talked to her. She say, "Well, baby, you working three or four nights a week, and it wouldn't hurt if he let you, you know, play music. See, we need the money." I said, "Hey, I never thought about it but all right." She said, "You like to fight." She said, "You know." I say, "Yeah, okay." So I talked to him. He said, "Well, you be in my office tomorrow morning." No, no, take that back. He said, "When you get off I'll wait for you. I wanna show you something." I said okay. So me and my wife we went--he took us downtown, took us upstairs to his office and he said, "This is my office." He said, "You'll be working right there." I said, "What will I be doing?" He said, "Well, it's according if you pass my test--pass the test."$$Exam, yeah.$$I said, okay. So, well, you know, I love challenges I told you that. So, I said, "Okay, I'll be down here tomorrow." I went down there and took the test. The man called and told him so he called me. No, he come by the club. He said, "Damn," he said, "look at your score." He said, "You got a scholastical average that kind of score?" "I don't know." He said, "You can be a detective out there." "I don't know 'bout that." He said, "Come to my office tomorrow." I said, "'Bout what time?" He said, "Be there at nine o'clock. Can you be there?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "Can you get up that early?" I said, "Yeah." So I got up 'bout seven o'clock, took my bath, went downtown. He said, "You come to work? Come to get a job." No, he said, "You come to get a job?" I said, "Well, what you got?" He showed me the papers and things. And he said, "This how much you'll be making." I said, "Damn, that all?" I said, "What I got to do?" "You got to go out and get people, I'll put you with a partner for two weeks. If your partner say you make it, you'll be on your own and you'll get a raise." I say, "Okay, we'll try it." "Here's your badge." I said, "Already?" He said, "Here's your badge, here's your permit, gun permit." I said, "I carry a gun?" He say, "Yeah, you go to the shooting range tomorrow." He say, "I'll have Pat [ph.]," which was my partner, he's going now too. He say, "I'll have Pat take you out on the shooting range." I say, "All right." And I was, you know, I was playing with it. Hell, then I got to liking the thing, man. And after two week I went by myself. There it is.$$What kind of experiences did you have as a sheriff's deputy here?$$None.$$No?$$No, I was a musician.$$Okay.$$(Laughter) I didn't have no kind of experience. That's what--everybody laughed at when I call the boys back home, they call me a liar. When I call my boys, when I call back home and told 'em I'm a police, a deputy sheriff, they--"You lie. How in the hell you got to be a deputy as much as you fight?" You know. But I was a deputy. I stayed with them, I don't know how--'til I retired I guess.

The Honorable Bernard Parks

Los Angeles city councilman Bernard Parks was born in Beaumont, Texas, on December 7, 1943; his family moved to Los Angeles while Parks was still young. While attending Holy Spirit High School, Parks played football and served as the class president. After graduating from high school, Parks attended Los Angeles City College from 1961 until 1963 before being hired at General Motors. Parks then enrolled in Los Angeles’ police academy, and in February of 1965, was sworn in as an officer at a time that police cruisers were being desegregated.

Parks was promoted to sergeant in 1970. That same year, Parks also began attending Pepperdine University, where he earned his B.S. degree in 1976 in public management, and simultaneously earned his M.A. degree in public administration from the University of Southern California. While attending college, Parks was promoted to lieutenant, and in 1977, became a captain with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). By 1980, Parks was serving as commander, and in 1988, he was named deputy chief of police for Los Angeles. In 1992, Parks became assistant chief of police; two years later, following an institutional reorganization, Parks returned to the role of deputy chief. In August of 1997, Parks was named Los Angeles chief of police, a position he held until 2002.

In his various executive roles with the police department, Parks was responsible for overseeing task forces on anti-terrorism, internal affairs, and organized crime. As chief of police, Parks overhauled of the department, initiating a community policing network; he also worked to stem corruption within the LAPD, sending former police officers to jail for gross violations of the law. During his tenure as chief of police, crime in Los Angeles fell by thirty-five percent.

After leaving the police department, Parks successfully ran in 2002 for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council. While serving in this office, Parks worked to modernize the Los Angeles International Airport and to bring the National Football League back to Los Angeles.

Parks is a member of several local, statewide and national law enforcement organizations, as well as a founding member of the Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation, which aims to foster growth and understanding between black police officers and their communities. Parks is an accomplished speaker and is widely considered to be an authority on criminal justice issues.

Accession Number

A2004.237

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/19/2004 |and| 3/31/2005 |and| 7/31/2014

Last Name

Parks

Maker Category
Schools

Holy Spirit Elementary School

Daniel Murphy Catholic High School

St. Patrick's Catholic School

University of Southern California

Pepperdine University

Los Angeles City College

First Name

Bernard

Birth City, State, Country

Beaumont

HM ID

PAR04

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

12/7/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream, Chili Beans

Short Description

Police chief and city council member The Honorable Bernard Parks (1943 - ) served as the Los Angeles chief of police from 1997 to 2002; during his tenure crime in Los Angeles fell by thirty-five percent. In 2002 Parks was elected to a seat on the Los Angeles City Council, where he worked to modernize the Los Angeles International Airport and to bring the National Football League back to Los Angeles.

Employment

Los Angeles Police Department

Los Angeles City Council

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of the Honorable Bernard Parks' interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his father and paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks contemplates how his parents might have met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his father's life in Los Angeles, California and career in law enforcement

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks details the integration of black policemen into the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his parents' reactions to racism in their workplaces

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls growing up in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Bernard Parks lists his siblings and cousins with whom he grew up

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the neighborhood in which he grew up in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his family and the daily routines of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls his childhood activities, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls his childhood activities, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls moving to the West Side of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his father's talent for building things

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks lists mentors and impactful people from his life

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls playing football for St. John Vianney High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his social life as a student at St. John Vianney High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his aspirations and interests at St. John Vianney High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his years following his high school graduation

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his father's law enforcement career

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains his decision to join the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Bernard Parks remembers learning about the extent of racial divisions while in the Los Angeles police academy

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - The Honorable Bernard Parks comments on tensions between police and the black community in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the Los Angeles Police Department killing of Leonard Deadwyler in 1966

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Slating of the Honorable Bernard Parks' interview, session 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains why he decided to become an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the racial biases that were part of the examination process for joining the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains how police were viewed by black people in Los Angeles, California and attempts to remove corruption from the department

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about how the Los Angeles Police Department served as a model for reforming other police departments

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about de facto segregation within the Los Angeles Police Department, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about de facto segregation within the Los Angeles Police Department, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the biggest challenges he faced as a police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about pressures from the black community and the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his promotions and how he prepared for them

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the educational backgrounds common for police offers in the 1970s and 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his promotion to sergeant

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes community issues affecting the Los Angeles Police Department of the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls the general perception of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. within the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls reactions within the Los Angeles Police Department to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about mistreatment of the public by police officers

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects upon police officers' reactions to criticism from minority communities

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about completing his college education while working for the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains his promotions within the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the accountability he tried to instill as he rose through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the late Los Angeles, California Mayor Tom Bradley

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the history of community policing and its deterioration in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes misconceptions about methods of community policing

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the need for policing to involve crime prevention and education

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about obstacles to promotion within the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his efforts to strengthen relations between the Los Angeles Police Department and communities it serves

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks remembers his and other police officials' response to the 1992 Rodney King beating

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the Rampart scandal in the Los Angeles Police Department, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the Rampart scandal in the Los Angeles Police Department, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of the Honorable Bernard Parks' interview, session 3

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about Daryl Gates' tenure as Los Angeles, California chief of police

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks remembers his reaction to the 1992 Rodney King beating

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the role of the police in the criminal justice system

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains his position on keeping records on officers' use of force

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the process of selecting the chief of police in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains how Daryl Gates was selected as chief of police in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about Willie Williams' tenure as chief of police in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his priorities after his 1997 appointment as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes how he reformed accountability processes for officers in the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls the creation of the LAPD Cold Case Homicide Unit its role in solving the Grim Sleeper serial killer case

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls the Rampart scandal

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the outcome of investigating corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department Rampart Division

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the aftermath of the United States Department of Justice's consent decree for the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects upon the public's various responses to his handling of the Rampart scandal

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recounts former Los Angeles, California mayor James K. Hahn's decision not to rehire him as chief of police

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects on the need for institutionalizing reforms within the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls his election to the Los Angeles City Council in 2002

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes programming he created as a representative for Council District 8 in Los Angeles, California, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks programming he created as a representative for Council District 8 in Los Angeles, California, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about issues faced by his constituents in Council District 8 of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his plans to retire

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks outlines his philosophy of public service

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects upon the 2008 presidential election of HistoryMaker The Honorable Barack Obama

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects upon his career

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

2$3

DATape

3$7

DAStory

8$3

DATitle
The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the biggest challenges he faced as a police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department
The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the outcome of investigating corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department Rampart Division
Transcript
Now what was, well what were your experiences as a trainee, how did you, how were you treated and what was the, you know, what were the biggest challenges that you faced?$$The, the biggest challenges were that you were not generally even considered. If there was a special detail such as in a patrol unit where you're gonna have a special, what they used to call a special operation, blacks weren't even thought of to be put in those positions. Blacks didn't get a chance to work in vice unless it was a specific black vice problem, where your ethnicity played a role. But the key was, is that most of the decisions were not, were being made by white supervisors who tended to pick people in their own image and likeness. So you may have gotten on the department, you may have gotten in patrol, but there was no real channel to get you out of that into specialized assignments or other assignments that would equip you to become a sergeant because no one was willing to, to select you for those. And so it was generally almost viewed as if you got through the selection process on to the department, it was viewed as you were fortunate but there was no real value in being on the department unless it was an ethnic issue of community relations or something in which, at that time, the view was a black officer working with, working to solve a black problem but not necessarily that black officer could solve universal problems, and so you were just viewed as being on the department. Many times also realize in the '60s [1960s], when the Black Panther Movement and the riots occurred, concerned, black officers were being suspected of being subversives inside the organization. Black officers were surveilled just like black residents. Black officers were dealing, they, black officers started a black police association, it was viewed as a subversive unit within the police department 'cause why would blacks all want to come together. And you heard people say well, we're all one LAPD [Los Angeles Police Department] and, and why would blacks need an association and the white officers don't have an association, I said, you do, you have LAPD and so, you know. But these were the, and this was not just in Los Angeles [California], I joined at a very young age an organization called International Association of Chiefs of Police. And I used to go to the conventions and there were few, if any, black officers in those associations, few, if any, received any committee assignments. And in fact, even in the police department deputy chiefs used to call me in and wonder why I went to these association meetings, did I go on my own time, how did I get there, what was the reason for my participation, because they couldn't understand why a black sergeant and lieutenant would have an interest in going and finding out what was going on in law enforcement on a larger scale. And so those were the kind of biases that many of the, the issues of the department was far beyond where people were using racial slurs but it was clear that there was no open armed approach of acceptance nor was there willingness to help facilitate and there was a constant questioning of, of being suspect. We used to laugh about it as black officers, if you wore a natural and a leather jacket you were just viewed as a Black Panther whether you did anything or not, it was just viewed as you took on a image of a negative in which the police department was associated with.$One of the things that was most obvious, our people that were investigating went into Rampart [Division, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)] station and they found that their locker room in very graphic terms and paintings, was actually named "The Yard" which is a term used in prisons. And we thought that was a little strange that we'd have a division that was run by a captain, two or three captains, where a deputy chief would be in that division routinely and no one thought it was unusual that you named your locker room "The Yard." So we began to assess that. We found that there was many things because of the volume of work, that there's a lot of corners being cut, that people thought they were different, they didn't have to comply with the rules, they thought they were special, these are the things that began to identify that there were a group of officers that were working outside of the bounds of what our manual said. As we went forward we began to concentrate on Rafael Perez who came to our attention through a variety of ways. And what we found in surveilling him that he conducted himself much as a drug dealer. He would cut, basically take himself off the freeway, make U-turns, find a, he kept having these surveillance tactics that he thought he was being followed. And so we pretty well zeroed in that Rafael Perez was the guy, we began to concentrate on it. At the same time we, we had another incident that was corollary but not directly related. We had a young officer by the name of David Mack that actually robbed a bank and he was best friends with Rafael Perez. And so putting all these things together in the prosecution, we identified that Rafael Perez was the guy that actually had stolen the narcotics and we prosecuted him. There was a hung jury. And so they released him but we continued the investigation. Well we found out that Rafael Perez, who had worked narcotics and gangs, found there was a hole in the system. And what he found out was that as long as a case was active, there was a great deal of systems in place that monitored where the narcotics was, who had it, was it checked back in, did it go to court, did it get left in court, but what he found out that if a case was dissolved, was disposed, that they had no further court hearings on it, there was very lax kinds of controls. So he'd go out into a property room and check out drugs on cases that had already been resolved. And he'd take 'em, and he would slit 'em open and he would replace the cocaine with sugar or other kinds of powder. He would return them and he always would use someone else's serial number to do that. He also knew that when we disposed of drugs, what, what our normal practice was, we would take it out to some place that they were gonna burn the drugs or we'd do a random check of the drugs to determine what was in the package with the quality and the quantity, and so he had a great chance of his packages not ever being randomly checked, so this stuff would go through. So when we found he was doing that and, and basically confronted him, he basically said I give, no one knew I was doing that and for you to figure that out, I give. And he began to tell us a variety of things that he said was going on in Rampart. And he talked about officers stealing drugs from suspects, he talked about officers abusing suspects. We also found that, although it wasn't him, another officer actually shot a suspect, a young man by the name of, of [Javier] Ovando, and basically planted a gun on Ovando, later went to court and testified and watched them send Ovando to prison for sixteen years. And so all these things began to come to our attention. We identified about a 130 cases that were probably tainted because we had no other evidence except this group of officers' testimony. And so we went to the DA [district attorney] and said these cases needed to be disposed of because you can't justify the prosecution because you can't believe the officers.

Floyd Powell

Floyd Powell was born in Crescent, Oklahoma on October 28, 1946. Shortly after his birth, his family relocated to Wichita, Kansas. Powell attended Isley Elementary School, Roosevelt Middle School and graduated from Wichita's East High School in 1964. He received his degree in Police Science from Wichita State University in 1972.

In 1966, following two years at Friends University in Wichita, Powell worked for the Boeing Corporation. He left Boeing in 1968, to pursue a career in law enforcement. During his twenty-one year career with the Wichita Police Department, he became the first African American to serve as Chief of Police. His tenure as police chief was marked by a commitment to community involvement and victim outreach. Powell worked hard to build bridges between the police force and the city's minority communities. He developed special community action teams to work with officers addressing problems in low- income neighborhoods. One of his pet projects, the Teddy Bear Program, was directed at assisting the youngest victims of crime. Through this program, officers worked to comfort child victims with teddy bears. He also aggressively worked to increase minority recruitment for the department. Powell retired from the police force in 1989. That same year, he took a position as manager with his former employer Boeing.

Powell serves as the Funding Board of Director vice-president for the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas. He is a father of four and resides in Wichita with his wife, Shirley.

Accession Number

A2002.177

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/27/2002

Last Name

Powell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

East High School

William H. Isely Elementary School

Roosevelt Junior High School

Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

Floyd

Birth City, State, Country

Crescent

HM ID

POW02

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

Speaker Bureau Notes

Wife was ill at the time he declined (2003).

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Harrah's Casinos

Favorite Quote

Treat People The Way You Want To Be Treated.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Kansas

Birth Date

10/28/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Wichita

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Police chief Floyd Powell (1946 - ) was the first African American Chief of Police in Witchita, Kansas.

Employment

Boeing Company

Wichita Police Department

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Floyd Powell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Floyd Powell lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Floyd Powell describes his parents, Mattie Joe and Leslie Powell

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Floyd Powell describes his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Floyd Powell describes his mother's background and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Floyd Powell talks about the background of his name

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Floyd Powell describes the sights, smells, and sounds of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Floyd Powell describes himself as a student at W.H. Isley Elementary School and Roosevelt Junior High School in Wichita, Kansas

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Floyd Powell talks about his interest in sports at Roosevelt Junior High School and East Senior High School in Wichita, Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Floyd Powell describes his teachers at East High School in Wichita, Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Floyd Powell describes attending Wichita State University, Kansas, in 1964

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Floyd Powell talks about joining the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in 1968

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Floyd Powell describes the relationship between the Wichita, Kansas Police Department and the black community when he joined in 1968

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Floyd Powell talks about his experience as a rookie police officer in the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in the late 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Floyd Powell talks about being discouraged from sitting for promotional exams as an African American at the Wichita, Kansas Police Department

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Floyd Powell describes rising through the ranks at the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in the 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Floyd Powell talks about being the only black officer in the command section of the Wichita, Kansas Police Department

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Floyd Powell describes the discrimination black officers faced when being passed over for promotions at the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Floyd Powell talks about serving as Captain in the Wichita Kansas Police Department and having the opportunity to hire and promote minorities

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Floyd Powell describes community policing while serving as Captain of the Baker One District in the Wichita, Kansas Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Floyd Powell talks about the Wichita, Kansas Police Department's community partners

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Floyd Powell talks about the challenges of being a minority in the Wichita, Kansas Police Department while he was District Captain

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Floyd Powell talks about developing relationship with the black community in Northeast Wichita, Kansas as a Captain in the Wichita Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Floyd Powell talks about his promotion to become the first black Major in the Wichita, Kansas Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Floyd Powell describes being appointed Deputy Chief of Police and Chief of Police of the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in 1989

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Floyd Powell describes the black community's reaction when he was removed as Chief of Police

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Floyd Powell describes the rise of drug crimes during the 1980s in Wichita, Kansas

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Floyd Powell talks about developing community programs with the Northeast community of Wichita, Kansas at the Police Department

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Floyd Powell talks about policing "party houses" in the Northeast neighborhood in Wichita, Kansas

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Floyd Powell describes the issues of instituting community policing programs in Wichita, Kansas in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Floyd Powell talks about the relationship of the beat officer to community policing

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Floyd Powell describes his work for the Boeing Company after his retirement from the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in 1989

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Floyd Powell talks about his family

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Floyd Powell describes his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Floyd Powell reflects on the changing black community in Wichita, Kansas during his tenure with the Wichita Police Department from 1968 to 1989

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Floyd Powell reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Floyd Powell reflects on how he wants to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Floyd Powell describes the dangers of being a police officer

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Floyd Powell narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Floyd Powell narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Floyd Powell describes community policing while serving as Captain of the Baker One District in the Wichita, Kansas Police Department
Floyd Powell talks about being discouraged from sitting for promotional exams as an African American at the Wichita, Kansas Police Department
Transcript
--the districts--Baker One was a district that was--had a lot of problems, lots of problems. And we got to do and I got to do a lot of things in Baker One. And I said we started our, our field office, which is like community policing today. We started our first one. We went and got some realtor signs and painted them and stuff (laughter) and put Baker One out there, and put a badge on it, and went and got one of our other guys, Charlie Franklin, who used to be downtown. And he was kind of like the community officer for downtown business district, and brought him out there. And, and people would come through, and can you sign this tag light off, or I wanna know about this--and wasn't the best setup because it was in a, it was in a, a junior high school that, that was basically closed except for some minor things. Mathewson [Junior High School, Wichita, Kansas] at that point was the same old Mathewson, but they closed it, then we just had some community things in it. So they gave us the space, and we did those kind of things. But we brought, we brought those concepts to the Baker One, neighborhood watch kind of things. We started those things back when, and I'm--I laugh today when I see those things coming back. And I'm going--but we did it a little bit differently. In community policing today, you just have a community policing officer who's really never been a policeman or a police officer. And-$$So (unclear) not functioning at the, at the--(simultaneous)-$$That's right. He's never been through all of those things, or she's never been through all those things. So they're out doing their thing trying to get money and stuff, but we were a combination of your beat officer and, and, and the supervisor, and whatever it takes for that area. And I didn't care whether or not you wanted to get out or not, if it was your district and you were having burglaries and whatever else. And we would make up fliers and things, and we would go knock on people's doors. And they used to do stories about us in the--(unclear)--hearing stuff about us out trying to, trying to protect and serve and do those things. And we would do those, and we would organize cleanups.$--Were there very many college educated police officers then?$$No, there weren't. They were starting to go--we would get off from third shift, and we'd go up to the university during those, those times. And you'd--there'd be several of us in different kind of classes, taking those because the government was paying for it to say that we got the educations. And so were really starting to get those kind of degrees and stuff. We were working toward 'em, taking those kind of classes and things and really trying to--trying, trying to do those things. But I noticed--and then the, the, the people that I came on with and my friends, they all left. So there really wasn't anyone there--a couple, a couple of older folks that really had gone to the top of where they could based on the constraints and stuff that was put on, based upon their education, based upon how people had saw them come to the police department of where they thought their level was. And I said I don't want to be stigmatized or labeled in a certain kind of way because I could be better. I'm gonna get an education. And the second thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna sit for these [promotional] tests. And I noticed the--there was nobody that would sit for the tests. And I'm going, "Why don't you guys sit for the tests?" And they wouldn't sit for the--well, you know, tests not gonna do that or I don't have enough education. You had to go sit for the promotional exams and things like that. And so that used to be really troubling. That used to be one of the big things that I, that I used to say is that, that the, the minorities would not go sit for the tests. And they had every excuse in the world not to go sit for the tests or they wanted to be handed something that was maybe softer, cushier without going through all the (laughter), the heartburn to go do it. And so that's, that's something I guess you could sit and debate with some of 'em, but I noticed that they didn't really do that. Subsequently, they, some of 'em eventually did, but early on, you couldn't get people to sit for tests and, and so there was never anybody to be promoted because nobody ever sat for the tests. And it was really troubling to me about that.$$Were they discouraged in any way you think?$$I think maybe they were discouraged-$$What happened?$$I just--I, I, I just didn't understand why they wouldn't go sit for the tests or they wouldn't go ahead and pursue the education. And a lot of 'em pursued it, but they never got their degrees in police science basically, most of 'em. But they just, they just stopped from going, you know--why? I don't, I don't know why. But it was, it was an interesting time.