Former SMPD Police Chief Wins Mayoral Election in Inglewood

Tuesday, 11 Jan 2011, 11:23:00 PM

Mirror Staff

James T. Butts in Inglewood in June 2010, campaigning for Mayor.
Image courtesy of James T. Butts
James T. Butts in Inglewood in June 2010, campaigning for Mayor.

A former Santa Monica Police Chief has won a runoff mayoral election in Inglewood. James T. Butts Jr., Santa Monica's former Police chief, most recently served as a deputy chief of Inglewood's police force.

Preliminary reports indicate that Butts held his steady 56 percent of the votes over the 44 percent for incumbent Mayor Daniel K. Tabor, a former Inglewood councilmember with a long track record in public service.

Tabor was originally the favorite with his deep roots in the community. He led the list of candidates in the November primary election, however he was unable to earn enough votes to claim majority and the office outright. He has served as Mayor since August, when he won a runoff election to fill the vacated seat of former Mayor Roosevelt Dorn, who resigned amidst controversy in January. Dorn had plead guilty to conflict of interest amid allegation of corruption.

Butts left Santa Monica in 2006 to become Deputy Executive Director (assistant general manager) for Public Safety Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) where he commanded the nation’s largest airport law enforcement and security organization.

In this position he managed more than a $100 million budget and commanded the nation’s largest airport law enforcement and security organization with more than 1,200 sworn and civilian personnel. His law enforcement and security duties were performed by more than 4,000 federal and other local officers which gave him the executive figure responsible for providing safety to the 60 million passengers that annually fly through the airport.

“In terms of budget and personnel, his span of responsibility exceeded the size of the workforce and general fund budget for the entire City of Inglewood,” the Inglewood Today reported in June.

Butts was sworn in to as chief of SMPD in September of 1991 at 38 years-old, making him the youngest chief of police in Southern California at that time. He was also the first Black man to hold a rank above sergeant in the department’s history. During his 15-year tenure, the SMPD significantly reduced violent crime in the city to a 50-year low. These historic reductions all took place while citizen complaints against officers fell by more than 50 percent, annual departmental liability dropped to unprecedented lows, and workers’ compensation absences decreased dramatically. Butts was replaced by current Chief Timothy Jackman.

Before assuming the position of Santa Monica police chief in 1991, Butts served nearly 20 years in the Inglewood Police Department as a community service officer, police officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and deputy chief.

As SMPD’s Chief, Butts’ commitment to diversity was reflected throughout the police department, especially in the management and supervisory ranks which were consistently recognized by his peers as having created one of the most technologically advanced departments in the entire region at that time. His frequent appearances at civic events, readiness to meet with community members, and easy accessibility to Santa Monica’s service recipients by both phone and e-mail had made him a well-recognized and respected public figure in the city.

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