Matt Johnson announced recently his departure from the Los Angeles Police Commission.
What followed Johnson’s 2015 appointment were three tumultuous years in which Johnson, who is Black, spearheaded key reforms while drawing the ire of many local Black Lives Matter activists who faulted him for working within the system instead of tearing it down, the Los Angeles Times reported. At Police Commission meetings, some called him a “house negro,’’ while others sought to confront him at his home and office.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who appoints the police commissioners, said Johnson was the driving force behind many of the recent changes, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
Using a methodical, collaborative style perfected as an entertainment lawyer striking deals for Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams and the Obamas, Johnson persuaded the police union and top LAPD officials to support his agenda, The Times reported. He argues the LAPD is more transparent, better trained and better equipped, with a de-escalation policy intended to prevent deadly shootings.
“You look at our officer-involved shooting numbers this year, and you can see our de-escalation training, deployment of less-lethal tools, all of that stuff is really starting to have an impact,’’ Johnson said.
Coupled with the recent resignation of Cynthia McClain-Hill, an African American attorney who pushed for better community relations and racial bias training for police officers, Johnson’s departure marks the end of an era for the five-member Police Commission, according to the Times.
Dale Bonner, who is executive chairman of a public infrastructure company and is also an African American attorney, has taken McClain-Hill’s seat. Johnson’s replacement has not yet been announced.
Johnson told The Times that he wants to spend more time with his four children, the youngest of whom are 5 and 8.