Funeral services for fmr. Police Commissioner Willie Williams to take place in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Funeral arrangements have been announced for former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Willie L. Williams, who died Tuesday in Atlanta at the age of 72.

The viewing, funeral and burial for Williams will be held in Philadelphia, where he was born.

A viewing will be held on Saturday May 7th, 2016 from 8 a.m.- 11 a.m. at Zion Baptist Church, 3600 North Broad Street in North Philadelphia.

A funeral service will follow at 11 a.m.

Williams will be buried at Chelten Hills Cemetery, 1701 E. Washington Lane in Philadelphia.

Williams, the first African-American police commissioner in Philadelphia and later in Los Angeles, died after a long illness.

EMBED More News Videos

Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Willie Williams has died.

"Truly was my inspiration. People have asked me multiple times when I knew or aspired to be the police commissioner and it was when I met him," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said.

Williams spent more than two decades in the police department rising from patrol officer to top cop. He was appointed Philadelphia Police Commissioner in June 1988 by then-Mayor Wilson Goode.

It was a monumental task in its own, but especially difficult as a minority during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

"He was a humble man with a great deal of grace and dignity and did an extraordinary job as police commissioner," Goode said.

EMBED More News Videos

Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode announces Willie Williams as the city's new police commissioner in 1988.

In 1992, he became the first African-American to lead the Los Angeles Police Department.

His appointment as chief of the LAPD came in the wake of Chief Daryl Gates' resignation following the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

During his tenure in L.A., Williams worked to bolster the image of the LAPD, and heal the rift that opened between police and Los Angeles communities following the violent arrest in 1991 of motorist Rodney King.

EMBED More News Videos

Willie Williams is sworn in as Police Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department in 1992.

"He was a guy who was even tempered, but a firm guy, had strong leadership skills, but he was also one of the initial proponents of community policing and he pushed that very hard," Ross said.

He served as police chief in L.A. until 1997.

Williams was appointed federal security director for Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta in 2002.

He is survived by his wife and children, one of whom is a police lieutenant in Philadelphia and grew up with Homicide Captain James Clark.

"I knew him as a family man, a great father, and a great husband so I knew both sides of him," Clark said.

Williams' son tells Action News funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized, but services will be held in Philadelphia.

Action News has learned that former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Willie Williams has died at the age of 72.


Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.