James Butts, who headed the police department's narcotics task force that helped halt drug trafficking in the Dixon-Darby and Lockhaven neighborhoods, was sworn in as captain of operations Wednesday, marking the first time a black officer has been appointed to that rank in a South Bay police department, according to area police officials.
Butts, who at 33 is also the youngest officer to be named captain in Inglewood, will head a 124-member staff that includes the patrol and traffic enforcement divisions. Police Chief Raymond L. Johnson chose Butts from 11 applicants.
A 12-year veteran on the Inglewood force, Butts emerged as the favorite candidate during a two-day selection process conducted by an outside consulting firm and police chiefs from neighboring cities.
His has been a patrol officer, robbery investigator, commander of the special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team and an undercover officer. He was named sergeant in 1981 and promoted to lieutenant in 1984. Earlier this year, as commanding officer of the narcotics and special operations unit, he organized a team of 30 undercover officers who have made more than 1,000 arrests and seized about $275,000 worth of cocaine, police said.
Butts also developed a computer system to identify, track and aid in the prosecution of repeat narcotics offenders. Butts said he hopes to use a similar computer program in the patrol division to hasten response times and track career criminals.