nesday marked the 20th anniversary of the death of William H. Parker, architect of the modern Los Angeles Police Department that even today bears his unmistakable imprint.
Parker, who was chief longer than anyone before or since, from 1950 to the last day of his life, fell dead at a downtown hotel banquet the night of July 17, 1966, during a dinner honoring him.
On Wednesday morning a small band of Parker’s professional allies gathered at his grave to remember him.
“Just a few of us, some of the guys who had a great feeling for the man, wanted to go out and say hello to Bill today,” said Chief Daryl F. Gates, who as a rookie policeman was chosen by Parker as his first security aide and who later became his chief executive officer.
Only a dozen men were present at the 15-minute ceremony in San Fernando Mission Cemetery where Parker is buried. Among them were Assistant Chief Robert Vernon and some former members of the Police Commission who were closest to Parker--City Councilman John Ferraro, Frank Hathaway, Elbert Hudson, Dr. Renaldo Carreon and Emmett McGaughey.
Parker inherited a department beset by such scandals as one involving vice officers and a Hollywood madam named Brenda Allen. That seamy episode had finally led to the early retirement of Police Chief Clemence B. Horrall and the temporary stewardship of former Marine Corps Gen. William A. Worton.
The strait-laced Parker set about rooting out corruption in his determination to rebuild the department’s reputation.