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PASADENA : Officials Laud Police Chief as He Prepares to Leave for New Job

March 30, 1995|RICK HOLGUIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was an unexpectedly abrupt curtain call for Pasadena Police Chief Jerry Oliver, who has resigned effective April 21 to become police chief of Richmond, Va.

Earlier this month, Oliver basked in media attention as he stood in the gleam of television lights and promoted a controversial new ordinance to regulate sales of ammunition in Pasadena.

Earlier this week, Oliver traveled across the country to be the center of media attention again, this time as Richmond's incoming police chief. He has headed Pasadena's Police Department since 1991.

"We're losing an excellent police chief who has earned the respect from people in our community across the board," said Councilman William Crowfoot, who learned of the resignation last Sunday when City Manager Philip Hawkey called him at home. "Our loss is Richmond's gain."

Oliver, 48, who could not be reached for comment, will face greater responsibilities in his new job.

Richmond has about 700 officers to police a city of 203,056 people. Pasadena has 230 officers and a population of 134,351. Richmond also has more crime. Last year, for example, there were 160 murders in Richmond, compared with 16 in Pasadena.

At $118,000, Oliver's salary in Richmond will be about the same as in Pasadena, but he reportedly will receive more fringe benefits.

Richmond City Manager Robert C. Bobb said in a prepared statement that he actively recruited Oliver because of his reputation as an advocate of community policing, which he will be expected to promote in his new post.

Oliver was assistant police chief in Phoenix and headed the Memphis, Tenn., Office of Drug Policy before coming to Pasadena.

One of his main charges in Pasadena was to implement community policing, a task he embraced wholeheartedly.

City officials lauded Oliver this week for founding the city's Citizens Police Academy, which trains residents and business owners in basic police tactics and encourages neighborhood involvement in fighting crime.

In addition, three satellite police stations were established during Oliver's tenure.

Serious crimes, which include murders, rapes and assaults, have decreased under Oliver's watch. In 1992, 10,261 serious crimes were committed in Pasadena, compared with 9,263 last year, according to department statistics.

But Oliver made his biggest splash as one of the key backers of the city's new ordinance, which takes effect next month, requiring gun dealers to take down the name and address of anyone purchasing bullets in the city. The primary goal of the ordinance is to prompt dealers to strictly enforce laws banning ammunition sales to minors, Oliver said.

Oliver's tenure has also been marked with controversy. A year into the job, representatives of women's groups called for an investigation of charges that the chief hit and pushed his ex-wife, Jackie Oliver.

The allegations surfaced in divorce papers filed by Jackie Oliver, who was represented by celebrity divorce attorney Marvin Mitchelson.

Oliver denied the allegations, asserting that his ex-wife was trying to embarrass him. Jackie Oliver never filed a formal complaint against Oliver and the matter was dropped.

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