LBPD Does Not Promote Black Women

By: 
Stephen Downing
ON FEB. 12 the LBPD posted the above photo on the Department’s Face Book page along with the statement that “February marks Black History Month and the LBPD wants to commemorate the men and women who make an impact in our community every day.”

A LBPD Facebook post commemorating Black History Month was catalyst to the Beachcomber receiving multiple emails and telephone calls from LBPD police officers complaining of the dearth of African American officers, supervisors, middle managers and command officers in their ranks.

Many of the comments addressed LBPD failures in recruiting Black police officers and when successfully recruited, they point out that Black recruits are dropped from academy training at higher rates than others and if successful in graduating from the LBPD police academy they are terminated on probation at higher rates than other officers.

Perhaps the most incriminatory email received by the Beachcomber stated, “I remember a Black recruit that was terminated from police academy training because of poor report writing skills. He had a bachelor’s degree in journalism.”

Attempts to Verify with LBPD

On Aug. 8, 2018, the Beachcomber attempted to verify like statements related to the recruitment and retention of African American police candidates by means of a Public Records request (P001065-080918) made to the LBPD.

The request asked how many of the 40 police recruits graduated in its November 2017 recruit class were African American, how many of the total were employed to date and how many of that total were African American.

The following day the LBPD acknowledged receipt of the PRA and stated in an email that the PRA “will be processed in the order that it was received.”

More than 20 months have passed and the Beachcomber has yet to receive a response in spite of the legal requirement that a response must be provided within 10 days.

Absence of Personnel Data

There is no record, study or statement of policy that the Beachcomber has been able to locate that provides insight into the LBPD’s focus upon the recruitment, training, retention and/or promotion of African American police officers, whether they are male or female.

One email sent to the Beachcomber that linked the LBPD’s recent photo and commemoration of its Black employees said:

“I find this funny. LBPD has never promoted a Black female officer. Before we buy into this celebration we should ask how many Black officers are on the job, with comparison to their part of the population served by the LBPD. Prepare to be shocked if that answer is ever provided. So much for their continuing propaganda.”

A Self-Appointed Police Historian

That question was ultimately answered by detective Mark McGuire, who retired in 2015 and remains the longest serving African American homicide detective in LBPD history.

McGuire, also unable to obtain historical data, appointed himself historian of the LBPD Black female police officer and undertook his own research using LBPD year books (1908 – 1976, 1986, 1996 and 2006) and followed that with interviews of Black LBPD female officers, past and present.

Five Black Females – None in Leadership Positions

On March 10, McGuire announced his findings on Facebook.

The most condemning part of his letter reported that:

“There are currently only five (5) Black female officers working at the department, out of 800-plus officers.

McGuire followed that finding with the statement, “Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to work for a Black female sergeant or one in a higher rank because the Long Beach Police Department has never promoted a Black female in the history of the department’s 113-year existence.”

The Los Angeles Police Department’s historical records report that Georgian Ann Robinson was that department’s first African American police officer. She was appointed to the position in 1919.

McGuire reported that the LBPD’s first Black female police officer – Delores Jones – was appointed in 1970 and two years later Shirley A. Burney became the second Black female to join the police department.

Today, the LAPD, like many other police departments across the Nation, have Black female police officers in supervisory, middle management and the top command ranks, including deputy chief. Many of those appointments go back several decades.

McGuire interviewed the first Black female officer to work in the field, Silvia Peters Tresvan, who was hired in 1975 under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA).

Tresvan told McGuire that she felt like her partners didn’t want her there, that they did not really teach her anything and that she saw and heard things that she could not believe.

When the CETA contract expired three years later, Tresvan resigned.

McGuire went on in his letter to identify the second Black female officer, Adrienne Robbins, to work patrol and complete patrol training.

He said, “Adrienne was the first and only Black female officer shot in the line of duty. Adrienne is a true American hero.”

McGuire reported that Adrienne recovered from her injuries and retired in 1981, that she’s “happy and healthy and living her best life with her three children, nine grandchildren, three great grandchildren and her husband of 50 years, who she adores.”

The third Black female to complete LBPD patrol training (November 1980) is Robbie Hill-Morrison.

Hill-Morrison conducted McGuire’s applicant interview when he applied to become a LBPD officer and she later became one of the detectives he worked with in violent crimes.

McGuire reported that Robbie was a mentor and confidant to other Black female officers, was responsible for developing the LBPD’s domestic violence polices, was the first Black female officer to retire with 20-plus years of service and that “Robbie tested for sergeant and made the list but was not promoted.”

According to McGuire’s historical research, Deborah Crockett was the fourth Black female to complete patrol training (September 1985).

During Crockett’s career she worked in the DARE program and youth services (juvenile) division and became the second Black female officer to retire after 20-plus years of service.

In July of 1989, Kim Maddox became the fifth Black female patrol officer to complete patrol training. She worked in patrol and detectives before retiring in 2014.

McGuire said, “I personally witnessed some of the disrespect that Kim endured while working patrol. Fellow White officers called her the “n” word, pretending to “joke” with her and Kim used it as a teaching moment to demonstrate that she was not to be played with.”

McGuire reported that Kim endured supervisors and fellow officers alike giving her a bad time about wearing braids while in uniform.

He said, “There was no policy for the Black female hair styles, so Kim stood her ground and challenged the administration by citing the absence of a grooming policy and continued to wear her beautiful braids.”

McGuire reported that Kim, a CSULB Hall of Fame basketball player, was a “loved and a highly respected officer and a LBGTQ advocate for her fellow officers. Kim died in September of 2016 after a two-year battle with cancer.”

Today the City Prosecutor Impact Award is named the Kim Maddox Impact Award.

According to McGuire, Robin Hawkins became the sixth Black female to complete patrol training (1993) and the fourth Black female to retire after 23 years of service. He said that Robin tested for sergeant, made the list but was not promoted.

In 1994 Monique Glover, became the seventh Black female officer to complete patrol training, the eighth was Yvonne Robinson and in 2000 Jackie Bezart was the ninth.

McGuire was unable to determine if any of the three officers tested for sergeant.

McGuire said, “Bezart worked in patrol, recruiting and background investigations prior to becoming “the face of the department as the first Black female public information officer.” Her last assignment was a violent crimes detective prior to her retirement in 2015.

According to the McGuire letter Nikki Alexander was the tenth Black female to complete patrol training (2003) and has worked patrol, youth services, missing persons and serves as the most senior Black female officer. She currently works as a child abuse detective.

McGuire reported that two Black female officers completed patrol training in 2004 and of those two one was terminated and the other left the LBPD for another agency.

A Ten-Year Gap

McGuire’s research revealed that ten years passed before the next Black female was able to graduate from the LBPD police academy and complete patrol training.

Today, there are only five Black female officers that remain in the ranks of the LBPD. The range of experience is between two and 18 years, one is a detective and four are patrol officers – none have promoted from the entry rank of police officer.

One Night in Miami

In his letter McGuire recalled the 2020 American film directed by Regina King based on the stage play, One Night in Miami.

He said, “The treatment of Black females at the LBPD reminds me of the opening scene in the movie when Jim Brown … offers to help his longtime friend and neighbor move something inside the friend’s house… and the friend replies, “That’s okay Jim, you know we don’t allow n*****s in the house.”

McGuire’s Closure

The retired LBPD homicide detective, who is now a founding member and vice president of “Police Against Racism (PAR), founded after the murder of George Floyd by other like-minded criminal justice professionals who he says are, “fed up with the systemic racism and brutality in law enforcement,” offered these final words to those Black females who remain within the ranks of the LBPD:

“These honorable Black female officers have dealt with unimaginable challenges, having to prove themselves and their loyalty to the job and coworkers, racism, sexual harassment and discrimination, while trying to stay safe in their careers.

“They must try to fit in or tolerate the predominately White male police department and all that comes with it, in order to make it to retirement.

“These officers survived the academy, patrol training and were not forced to resign or be terminated … before completing probation.

“For the (Black female) trailblazers that came before me, during my time with the LBPD and (all of) the current officers in the Long Beach Police Department, thank you for your service and your courage.

“To the Black female officers currently on the job, take care of each other, be loyal to yourself, stay out of trouble, stay healthy physically and mentally and always be professional.

“Thank you all for your service.”

Mark McGuire’s courage and his message to the LBPD’s Black female officers reminds us of a message once offered by Maya Angelou: “You may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”

 

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police. Stephen.Beachcomber@gmail.com

Mark McGuire is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LBPD homicide detective. He made a significant contribution to this article. Mac5212@msn.com

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Comments

Not surprising at all, Luna only promotes his minions that will LIE, CHEAT and STEAL for him and the city. Good old boy system has and always will exist in the LBPD. LB does not have the ethical leadership to fire incompetent Luna and his incompetent and corrupt staff.

How many have applied to be a police officer? Let’s start there.

You can’t promote those who don’t apply, pass probation, or test for a position. But you can promote multiple Sergeants or a Lieutenant with open IA cases or recent discipline. Allegedly.

I agree, if am not mistaken not long ago Mr. Downing wrote an article about the promotion of a LBPD officer to the rank of Sgt, with a past criminal record for assault? this is more proof that Luna should be fired, because he will promote criminals to lead the PD who will lie for him, but not qualified "none" criminal police officers. But, what did we expect from a criminal organization lead by unethical people. SMH

Thank you for this article, Mr. Downing. This comes as no surprise and can be seen throughout the department. I have known some of the people who work at LBPD for years and talk to them on and off. Sadly the faces of the officers and the people who have higher ranks do not reflect the faces of the community.

One of the black female supervisors who worked in their records department had a master's degree and was able to be an acting administrator, but not the administrator. She's my friend and has retired, but could have gone higher had there been opportunity. Several other black ladies who dedicated themselves to the records department with literally decades of service could never get beyond being a supervisor. When I heard one of the female black supervisors with a masters degree left to be a manager at another police department, it was disheartening. Why was she not good enough for LBPD?

This article made me think about what it actually takes to promote as a black woman in LBPD as a police officer or non-officer position. Education, skill, or loyalty to the department do not appear to be pre-requisites.

How is Long Beach Police Department NOT a white supremacist organization? White supremacy is the belief that white people are superior to those of other races and thus should dominate them. The belief favors the maintenance and defense of white power and privilege. Reads a lot like LBPD.

Applicants for sergeant are given a written test of department policy, police procedures, criminal law an d other police related subjects. A study list is published months in advance of the test. You must score 70% to go to the next phase. The oral boards are conducted by police officials from outside LBPD. They have no personal knowledge of the applicant who is judged solely by their answers to the interview questions. All questions are of a supervisory nature. Everyone is asked the same questions.

I worked with and around all the officers mentioned except the newest one. Some were absolutely incompetent and should have been fired. They only reason they were not was their skin color. On the night Officer Robbins was shot, she was carrying an unauthorized gun that was not even operational. She was know as Wonder Woman. Wonder how she made it through the Academy. Her incompetence nearly cost her and her partner their lives. With the exception of Robbie Hill, the rest were average officers at best. Some of those officers barely met minimum standards. Robbie Hill, a very good officer, probably would have been a decent sergeant however she did not score high enough on the sergeants test. Not every officer that puts on the uniform is qualified to promote. Everyone takes the same test. If you do not score high enough, you do not promote.

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