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Tokenism in Action?

August 23, 1987

Chief Bill Kolender has announced that he will appoint a "black" administrator to the San Diego Police Department. This person will be paid $60,000 a year and will not be promoted from the ranks of the department.

I find it very interesting that the chief has already decided that a black will fill the position, when several capable candidates (black, Hispanic, white) have not even entered the final interview process. Perhaps the chief has "extrasensory powers" and already knows that a black candidate will win the position. I assume a person appointed to this vital position will be the most qualified of all available candidates. As a taxpayer and citizen of San Diego, I would like to think my tax dollars that are contributing to this person's $60,000 salary are being spent on the best qualified person, regardless of his (or her) race.

I find it equally interesting that the position will not be filled by a member of the department. I guess Chief Kolender feels that no one on the department qualifies for this position or would be interested in earning $60,000 a year.

Deputy Chief Bob Burgreen has taken careful consideration to point out that this black administrator will not be a "token" to appease the black community of our fine city. He feels, as does the chief, that this appointment will benefit the "entire community" and not just the black community. So why not appoint a Hispanic, or Asian? (I already know the person can't be white.) Wouldn't this also benefit the entire community?

If I were black, I would feel a deep sense of embarrassment and shame in this blatant form of tokenism. Chief Kolender is adding to the widening gap between blacks and whites by this decision. I am growing very tired of reverse discrimination and seeing my hard-earned tax dollars being spent to "appease" the minority community. If we really need an administrator, let's make sure that person is the most qualified person and demand a review by our elected city officials of this person's job performance so our taxes are not being wasted.

I see all of this as another example of Chief Kolender's inability to be in charge of this department. Under Chief Kolender's command, our fine Police Department continues to suffer from embarrassment and low morale. I think the taxpayers of San Diego deserve better.

JOHN D. HALSEY

San Diego

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