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LONG BEACH : Community Protests Officer's Reassignment

March 17, 1994|JOHN POPE

Neighborhood groups are protesting the reassignment of a popular police officer who was involved in a federally funded campaign against drugs and gangs in in an area of North Long Beach.

Community leaders described Long Beach Police Officer Booker T. Heads III as a role model who reached out to area youngsters who are at risk.

Until last week Heads was assigned to Operation Revitalization, an anti-crime effort by the district attorney's office, Police Department, probation office and school district.

"This (reassignment) is surely a setback," said E. Thomas Jennings, president of College Square, a neighborhood association. Jennings said Heads organized graffiti cleanups and talked to schoolchildren about staying away from drugs.

Jennings, a member of an advisory panel to Police Chief William Ellis, has begun a petition drive with other community activists to demand that Heads be reinstated. Jennings brought his complaints before the City Council last week.

Long Beach Police Cmdr. Ray Jordan, who supervises the program, said Heads was reassigned because of personal conflicts among the program's staff. He would not elaborate, except to say the position should be filled within the month.

The 15-month neighborhood improvement program covers about 9,000 households in a corner of North Long Beach west of the Los Angles River and south of Compton.

Funded by a $518,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, the project began in October to target a reported increase in shootings, gang activity, drug dealing, thefts and graffiti.

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