In these times of unrest, economic uncertainty and racial divisions, it is time to make some tough decisions. LAAPOA and the LAXPD have put their money where their mouth is. Not only are our rank-and-file officers majority-minority, but the president of our police association is African-American. Just last year, our police force welcomed its first African-American chief. As far as reflecting our community, LAXPD has done its part. However, with these advances we are also wedded to the past.
Deputy Executive Director (DED) David L. Maggard Jr., to whom LAXPD Chief Cecil Rhambo reports, is guided by a philosophy of a bygone era and is therefore curbing the hard-won strides that all police officers at LAX have made in having leadership that understands the complexities of being a police officer and minority in this nation.
DED Maggard has sought to diminish and undermine not just LAAPOA, but also LAXPD’s chief and the future leaders of LAXPD. He has shown a disregard for the input of the very experienced and respected Chief Rhambo, who has a long history in policing and public service. Director Maggard has gone so far in this regard that he has sought to reverse Chief Rhambo’s decisions to promote from within LAXPD, instead attempting to further marginalize veteran airport police personnel by recommending outsiders. It is not coincidental that DED Maggard’s picks not only have less airport policing experience, but are also Caucasian — in contrast with Chief Rhambo’s merit-based choices, who are minorities.
Disturbingly, DED Maggard has more discriminatory lawsuits filed against him by individual LAXPD officers than any other leader of police in LAXPD history — and none of them have been filed by the union. This is not some conspiracy-filled effort by union leaders, as a whisper campaign to discredit, the aggrieved may allege. LAAPOA was not the initiator in any of these lawsuits. Instead of a gaslighting campaign against LAAPOA’s Board, perhaps there should be a reckoning.
In a time when everyone in this country is committed to self-reflection, DED Maggard has seemed impervious to such introspection. While efforts have been made to bring about evolution in DED Maggard’s leadership style, they have been unsuccessful. LAAPOA, which is proudly majority-minority, has brought up the many concerns our members have about DED Maggard to the airport leadership and the Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC), to no avail. While LAAPOA has not filed any lawsuits on behalf of individual members against DED Maggard, we have compiled the existing lawsuits and additional information on LAAPOA officer grievances and presented them as a whole to airport leadership and the BOAC to illustrate the pattern of practice. The response by airport and BOAC leadership was to maintain the status quo. BOAC is composed of five commissioners. Only one is African-American. The former CEO of LAWA resigned last year. She was African-American. It is our hope that Chief Rhambo does not follow suit. He needs to be respected. He has earned respect.
Quite simply, a change needs to be made to send a signal to rank-and-file officers, as well as the leadership of LAAPOA and LAXPD, that this is a monumental time in policing, public safety and American history, and for those who are not listening, it is time for them to go. The time for this change is now, and we will not stop until that change is achieved.