W.L. Kelley, 61; First Black Deputy CHP Commissioner
W.L. “Bill” Kelley, 61, the first African American to serve as the second in command of the California Highway Patrol, died Thursday night of undisclosed causes at his Sacramento home.
When Kelley was appointed deputy CHP commissioner by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1995, the agency had 8,994 employees, including 6,142 uniformed officers. Kelley, who retired in 1999, supervised daily CHP operations for Commissioner D.O. “Spike” Helmick, who on Friday praised Kelley’s “professionalism and dignity.”
Born in Dallas, Kelley joined the CHP in Los Angeles in 1967, rising to sergeant in 1973 and lieutenant in 1982. In 1986, he became the second African American promoted to captain, and served as commander of CHP offices in Newhall and South Los Angeles. He worked to help African Americans become law enforcement officers and raised money to aid poor black families.
Kelley studied public administration at Cal State L.A. and USC. In the early 1960s, he participated in several civil rights marches with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.