Exodus of a Baker’s Dozen
by Ed Lyon
Since the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd while in police custody, protests against police brutality and systemic racism have grown. And, as various protests and incidents of excessive force by police make headlines, police chiefs are beating a hasty exodus from troubled departments.
• In California, Los Angeles Schools’ Police Chief Todd Chamberlain resigned after defunding of his department by 33 percent resulted in 40 vacancies remaining unfilled and a force reduction of 65 officers.
• In Georgia, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned after Rayshard Brooks was fatally shot by now-fired police Officer Garrett Rolfe. Although Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms accepted the resignation, she stated Shields would continue to serve within the department in a position “yet to be determined,” turning the resignation into a demotion.
• In Kentucky, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer fired Chief Steve Conrad after cops and National Guard soldiers shot restaurateur David McAtee to death. Conrad was fired because cops were not wearing their body cams, not because McAtee died.
• Prince George’s County, Maryland, Police Chief Hank Stawinski resigned after complaints by 13 minority officers were aired by the American Civil Liberties Union. They had allegedly been discriminated against and racially slurred by White cops.
• Fanwood, New Jersey, Chief Richard Trigo retired after recordings of him slurring former Asian-American prosecutor Grace Park and Sikh-American State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal surfaced on YouTube.
• Las Cruces, New Mexico, Police Chief Patrick Gallagher took early retirement after eight fatal incidents during his tenure. The last two involved a chokehold death and firing 38 rounds of ‘less-than-lethal’ munitions against one suspect.
• Rochester, New York, Police Chief La’ Ron Singletary retired after bodycam videos of cops killing mentally ill citizen Daniel Prude surfaced. His assistant chief and senior commander also retired. The next two senior commanders self-demoted, leaving the department leaderless.
• In Oregon, Portland Police Bureau Chief of Police Jami Resch resigned in the midst of long-lived and still ongoing protests against police brutality. She served as chief only six months.
• Nashville, Tennessee, Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson’s scheduled autumn 2020 retirement was stymied by the mayor’s announcement of his firing. No specific allegations or explanations were publicly made.
• Dallas, Texas, Chief Reneé Hall resigned in the aftermath of a kettling operation on a bridge that resulted in hundreds of arrests but no actual charges and drunkenness as well as White policewoman Amber Guyger mistakenly entering a Black citizen’s apartment, fatally shooting him.
• Richmond, Virginia, police Chief William Smith resigned after a police SUV drove into a crowd of protesters, striking several of them, and a prior use by cops of tear gas on protesters before an announced curfew.
• Seattle, Washington, Chief Carmen Best retired after wages for her and her command staff were reduced. The department was defunded by $4 million and downsized by up to 100 cops. The department has been beset by more than 150 days of protests.
• Milwaukee, Wisconsin, police Chief Alfonso Morales was demoted over his department’s use of tear gas on peaceful protesters; investigations and disciplinary proceedings; and accusations of lying to city commissioners, with hiring and promotion updates.
The police chiefs’ exodus remained a baker’s dozen when Tucson, Arizona, Chief Chris Magnus’ attempt to resign was rejected and not accepted by the city manager.