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By Yussuf J. Simmonds Sentinel Assistant Managing Editor Margaret McNair Contributing Writer.
Homer F. Broome Jr. was born in 1931 to Ethel and Homer F. Broome Sr. in Los Angeles, California. Homer Sr. and Ethel were also blessed by the birth of a second son, Conley. The family moved to El Centro, California and later to San Diego, California. Broome attended Point Loma High School where he excelled in track and field, and graduated in 1949. After completing coursework at San Diego Sate University, Broome enlisted in the United States Army and rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant.
In February 1954 Broome joined the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), a decision that would shape the remainder of his life. He steadily and determinedly rose through the LAPD ranks receiving appointments as Captain of Police in 1969; Captain II in 1971; Captain III in 1973; and Commander of Police in 1975. Broome was the first African-American appointed to each of these positions in the LAPD’s history.
He held a variety of supervisory, command and staff positions, including the position of Commanding Officer, Southwest Division; Commanding Officer, West Los Angeles Area; Assistant to the Commanding Officer, Operations- West Bureau; and Commission Services Coordinator.
Former LAPD captain and chief of Compton and Inglewood police departments, Joseph Rouzan Jr. was a close friend and colleague of Broome. About his friend and mentor, Rouzan said, “He was the role model, my personal role model and my friend. He was the one who urged the rest of us on when we thought we couldn’t make it, despite the obstacles. He was one of the original charter members of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE). He also served the community in many other ways; he was instrumental in putting together the Baldwin Hills youth football program, and was one of the coaches.”
In 1978, Broome was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to serve in the Justice Department. He won Senate confirmation to become Administrator of the Department of Justice Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) in Washington, DC.
There is a large number of men and women who have benefited from Broome’s presence and leadership in and around the LAPD and they all possess sterling memories of his past and its influence on the present. Lieutenant Fred Booker of the Community Relations Section were thoughtful of those memories when he said, “To understand the Los Angeles Police Department and the things that we as African Americans had to go through during that time frame, and the fact that he rose to the rank that he (Broome) did, showed not only was he extremely bright, but he was also politically astute. The “glass ceiling” was so thick and impenetrable, what that man did, meant so much to many of us. To us, as African Americans, he was like that northern star that went before us; he was a pioneer because without Homer Broome and the things that he did and the ceilings that he broke through, I think the African Americans today won’t be where we are (in the LAPD).”
Broome is the author of several published and unpublished works about law enforcement including “LAPD’s Black History- 1886-1976.” He has also written “A Critical In-depth Evaluation of the Los Angeles Probation Departments’ Group Guidance Program,” “A Critical Examination of the Los Angeles Police Departments’ Internal Communications System” and “A Police—Community Relations Syllabus.”
A tribute to Broome’s career in law enforcement came in 2006 when the Los Angeles Police Commission, at the initiative of City Councilmember Bernard Parks (a former LAPD officer and chief, who came through the ranks with Broome) renamed the Southwest Division Police Station in his honor. A bronze bust of Broome graces the entrance of the Homer F. Broome Jr. Southwest Community Police Station. With a sense of deep gratitude in his voice, Councilman Parks said, “Homer Broome was a person who broke down a number of barriers in the Los Angeles Police Department as the first Black person to become a captain and a commander. And if you keep it in perspective as to the time period, it was about the time that Tom Bradley left the department because he was told that a Black person would never reach the rank of captain. The naming of the Southwest Station was fitting because it was the first station that a Black person was ever in command of. And after he became captain in 1969 and then commander, it opened the door for Jess Brewer to become a commander, assistant chief and then a police commissioner. He was a person who looked out for others. He started three Black police associations including the Oscar Joel Bryant Association. We wanted to make sure his memory remained intact and that was the reason we named a station (after him) and placed his bio, so that we’d never lose sight of his impact on Los Angeles.”
Upon his return from Washington, D.C. Homer continued his public service as Vice President of the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works. He was appointed to the position by his good friend, Mayor Tom Bradley - also a former one of Broome’s LAPD colleagues - and confirmed by the City Council. Bradley also urged him to run for the Tenth Council District, his old district seat, but Broome was unsuccessful. It was often said that Broome was a trailblazer while serving within the public sector, and indeed he was that person.
Broome was also an accomplished entrepreneur who was highly respected for his combination of business acumen, and his unique sense of fairness. He was acknowledged by peers, business associations and community organizations on multiple occasions for his dedication to the progress and achievement of minorities, women and disadvantaged businesses across the country as he assisted those who desired to achieve despite their life challenges. Broome routinely provided insight and facilitated opportunities for organizations, and small and large businesses to achieve their personal and business goals.
Educational achievement was the norm in the family headed by Broome’s grandparents, William and Zenobia Payne. He revered his grandparents and, fueled by their legacy as educators, Broome received his B.A. in Psychology at California State University at Los Angles in 1958; his MBA from Pepperdine University in 1981; and was admitted as a Doctoral candidate to the University of Southern California.
Mentoring and teaching were Broome’s missions that led him to be a lecturer and instructor at the University of California at Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Los Angles Police Academy, Windsor University, California State University at Los Angles, Atlanta University, and Los Angeles Community College. He held a lifetime California Community College teaching credentials (Business and Industrial Management, and Police Science).
While Broome’s achievements were many, he was first and foremost a family man. He was married for over 50 years to the love of his life, Marian. Broome was also a devoted father and inspiration to his two children, Margaret and David, and his four granddaughters who were the delight of his retirement years. Broome’s relationship with the extended Payne- Jones- Tolliver- Broome clan was a source of meaning in his life, as was his relationship with the Lord. He was a faithful member of Holman United Methodist Church for over 40 years.
Broome is survived by his wife, Marian Broome; son, David Broome; daughter, Margaret McNair; his son-in-law, Greg McNair; granddaughters, Courtney, Rachel, Lauren, and Megan McNair; brother, Conley E. Broome; sister, Claudia Thomas; and aunts, Regina Moses and Sara Enge; nurse, Terese Thompson; nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends.
Broome passed away peacefully on Sunday, November 25, 2007 at his home in Baldwin Vista. He was 76 years old. Funeral services are pending..