By SAMANTHA MASUNAGA
RAFU STAFF INTERN
While playing varsity football at Mark Keppel High School, Timothy Murakami did not expect his rigorous training to factor into his future profession.
However, when faced with the exhausting physical and mental training exercises during “Hell Week” at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Academy, Murakami realized the difference that his football days had made.
Thirty years later, this former student athlete has taken on a new role – serving as the first Chief of Police for the city of Rosemead.
“I’m honored that the city would do this for me,” Murakami said. “I’m surprised and honored that they would put so much trust in me.”
Although the Murakami assumed his position on June 23, he also holds the rank of lieutenant with the sheriff’s department.
This dual-duty occurs because the city of Rosemead contracts with the sheriff’s department, Murakami said. By appointing Murakami as the city’s first Chief of Police, the city hopes to strengthen the bond and unity between the sheriff’s deputies and the city civilian staff, according to a press release.
In the role of liaison between the city and the sheriff, Murakami will direct the operations of the city’s public safety department, which is composed of both law enforcement officers from the sheriff’s department and city civilian support personnel, according to the press release.
“He really helped to bring everyone together,” said Ray Rodriguez, public safety services supervisor for the city of Rosemead. “That’s the way we’re running now – to make the city of Rosemead better.”
But Murakami never planned on a career in law enforcement.
Murakami grew up in Crenshaw, but later attended Mark Keppel High School when his family moved to the area. While in high school, Murakami was a tri-sport athlete, as he ran track and wrestled, in addition to playing his favorite sport, football.
Prior to graduation, he received several letters from the United States Coast Guard, but decided against a career in the military.
“I used to have long hair and played football,” Murakami said. “Being in the military was the last thing for me.”
Without a clear career goal in mind, Murakami entered California State University, Los Angeles as a general education major.
However, this quickly changed after a friend who worked with the sheriff’s department introduced him to the possibility of a career in law enforcement.
While initially attracted to the occupation based on its job security, Murakami realized that he enjoyed working with the public.
“It’s really a challenging career,” he said. “It’s exciting and I’m able to help the community, whether it’s arresting criminals or helping people in need.”
With his commitment to public service, Murakami has made a difference through his work on various assignments, including the Asian Crime Task Force and the Youth Activity League.
The Asian Crime Task Force was formed in the early 2000s as a way to address the needs of the Asian community and to build trust between the community and the sheriff’s department, Murakami said. As a result, the team of 30 deputies specialized in dealing with Asian street gangs, organized crime, and victims of crime.
“I think people identified with me more because of the cultural understanding,” Murakami said. “They were able to be comfortable talking to me.”
Murakami was also able to combine his occupation with his enthusiasm for sports when he helped to further develop the Youth Activity League, while working at the City of Industry station.
This non-profit organization sponsors sports programs for local children to allow them to try various types of activities, including football, basketball, tennis, judo, and scuba diving, free of charge.
Murakami said that the program is still ongoing and has mentored hundreds of children.
“Sports helps kids learn discipline,” he said. “There’s character-building in sports.”
His co-workers praise him as being an experienced deputy who can bring people together.
“He was very proactive,” Rodriguez said. “He’s willing to accept any challenges put before him and he helped create a strong work environment between sheriff’s personnel and city employees.”
Rodriguez was part of the interview panel that hired Murakami to serve in the city of Rosemead in August 2008 as part of a special assignment team. Based on his past experience, the board decided to hire him.
“The feeling was that he was suited to meet the needs of our city,” Rodriguez said. “He was the best candidate.”
Now, the two have gotten to know each other better, as their offices are located close together.
“Tim has an easy demeanor and he has a sense of humor that I don’t think a lot of people see because of his position,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve had a good working relationship and I think that will continue as time passes by.”