By GWEN MURANAKA
RAFU ENGLISH EDITOR IN CHIEF
From top dog of Nisei Week to top cop? Fresh off his leadership of the Nisei Week Japanese Festival, Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Terry Hara has decided to apply for the job of chief of police.
“The timing, just where we are today, it’s a great opportunity to lead this organization,” said Hara in an interview with The Rafu Shimpo. “I feel that I have not only the experience to connect with the community, but with all communities to build coalitions for groups to come together.
According to the Los Angeles Times, at least 11 of the 12 deputy and assistant chiefs have applied to replace outgoing Chief William Bratton.
Hara, 51, is the current commanding officer of Operations West Bureau. He was promoted to deputy chief in January 2008 becoming the highest ranking Asian American in the department’s history.
“All the other candidates are outstanding as well. When everything is said and done, we’ll still work together and move forward with what Chief Bratton has started. I see that the seeds have been planted and we’re going to water it and ensure it takes root,” Hara said.
Bratton will leave the LAPD on Oct. 31 to head up a private security firm and has stated that he would like the next chief to be from within the department. The Los Angeles Police Commission will hold meetings starting Wednesday to gather communityinput on what the public would like to see in the next chief. The commission will narrow the candidates down to three finalists, from which the mayor will make the final selection.
Hara said he would attend the hearings to hear what the public has to say about the next chief of police. Among the priorities Hara observed include dealing with gang crime and developing community relations, all within a city budget that has been hit hard by the economic downturn.
“It’s going to take commitment from everyone to do what we can to provide best service possible. We may have to modify or change or consolidate some of our service but still not lose primary responsibility of providing service to Los Angeles. It’s going to take a leader that people can stand behind and rally behind to get through these difficult times,” said Hara.
Before joining the Los Angeles Police Department in 1980, Hara began his law enforcement career as a Police Explorer Scout with the Long Beach Police Department. His assignments within the LAPD have included Personnel Division, Wilshire, Southeast, Southwest, Newton and Harbor Areas, South and Central Traffic Divisions, Detective Support Division, Internal Affairs Group, Training Division, Training Group, Human Resources Bureau, Employee Relations Group and the Office of the Chief of Police.
Among his accomplishments are commanding LAPD training, including spearheading a change in policy instructing officers not to shoot at a moving vehicle. He has also led a team of training instructors to work with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and met law enforcement officials in Israel, Thailand and Korea and creating a summer work program, including a moonlight basketball league at Nickerson Gardens in South L.A. In the Korean American community, Hara implemented cultural training for officers working within the KA community.
The public is invited to attend the meetings which will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at Friendship Auditorium, 3201 Riverside Dr., Los Angeles at 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 3 at the Department of Water and Power, 4030 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles at 6 p.m.; Wednesday, Sept. 9 Felicia Manhood Senior Center, 11338 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles from 6:30 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 10 One Generation, 18255 Victory Blvd., Reseda from 6:30 p.m.
Hara recently served as president of the Nisei Week Foundation and is also past president of the Japanese American Optimist Club of Los Angeles.
“The volunteerism, the excitement I bring to Nisei Week, I can bring that to the Los Angeles Police Department as well,” said Hara.