The life of outgoing Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks was celebrated in a documentary that premiered in Baldwin Hills on Tuesday night.
Parks is retiring from the City Council at the end of his third term. The former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department has served the city of Los Angeles for more than 50 years.
An invitation-only screening was held at the Rave Cinemas for the documentary film titled "Biography, Battles & Bernard," which provides a historical perspective of Parks' life and the city over the last five decades.
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"We have to thank my wife, Bobbie Parks, who saved most of this stuff and for years I've been asking her, why is she saving all this stuff? Well we found out. It's going to end up being a very nice movie," Parks said.
The film will also air on the city's public access channel next month.
Parks was born in Beaumont, Texas, but raised in Los Angeles. After graduating from Los Angeles City College in 1963, he worked on an assembly line at a General Motors factory. One day while driving, Parks heard an advertisement to become a police officer for Los Angeles and on February 1, 1965 he did just that.
Parks served during the famous Watts Riots in August 1965 as well as the Los Angeles riots in 1992. He worked his way up the ladder of authority until being appointed by Mayor Richard Riordan as the LAPD's 52nd chief of police in 1997.
Parks is known for creating was it believed to be the first cold case unit in the country as well as making some drastic departmental changes. He flattened the chain of command, fired up to 130 police officers for misconduct and implemented an officer accountability policy.
According to the USC School of Public Policy, under Parks leadership, the Los Angeles saw a decrease in homicides by 45 percent, robbery by more than 45 percent and rape-assault by almost 20 percent.
Parks received several accolades while on the job. Possibly the most memorable was when the then-chief of police was selected as People Magazine's 50 most beautiful people.
In 2002, Parks' tenure as chief of police ended, and a year later he became a Los Angeles city councilmember for the 8th Council District. Parks was appointed to Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee in his first year. It has been almost 12 years since then, but Parks has continued working for the people of South Los Angeles to this day.
"I just want to say thank you to those who I've been a part of their lives and they've been a part of mine for the last 50 years. Whether it was in the police department, whether it's in divisions that I worked, whether it been in the City Council. They have been wonderful to me and my family," he said.
Most recently, Parks helped hire contractors to start fixing more than 400 sidewalks in South LA. However, his work is done and Park says he is looking forward to relaxing and thinking about what he will do for the next 50 years of his life.