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Arcadia Appoints First Japanese American as New Police Chief


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    Arcadia, a city in California known as a Japanese incarceration site during World War II, has appointed its first Japanese American police chief.

    History in the making: The city made history last week after Arcadia City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto appointed Capt. Roy Nakamura, 56, as the new police chief, according to Patch. The 28-year department veteran will take over for retiring Chief Robert T. Guthrie, who will vacate the position on Jan. 9 after 31 years of service.

    • “We appreciate all those who have risen to the call of service as Arcadia Police Chief,” Mayor Roger Chandler said in a statement. “Captain Nakamura continues in the long line of excellence in law enforcement leadership that this community has come to expect and enjoy from its Police Department.”
    • He described Nakamura as an exceptionally qualified officer for the position.
    • “Over the years I have known him, I have seen that Roy is conscientious, progressive, and dedicated to keeping Arcadia safe,” Lazzaretto said.
    • Nakamura, who is currently the Operations Captain of the police department, will be the 30th Police Chief and the first Asian American to hold the title since Arcadia became a city in 1903.

    Arcadia during WWII: The Santa Anita Assembly Center, which is now the Santa Anita Racetrack, was one of the incarceration sites established by the U.S. government. Thousands of Japanese and Japanese Americans were forced to live at the site after being pushed out of their homes following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in WWII.

    • The Santa Anita Assembly Center was occupied by about 19,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans for 215 days from March 27 to Oct. 27, 1942, according to Densho Encyclopedia.
    • In 1988, then-President Ronald Reagan passed the Civil Liberties bill that offered a formal apology to those who were forced into the incarceration sites and acknowledged the injustice at the time.


    • “It’s progress,” Nakamura said via the Los Angeles Times. “Obviously, I wasn’t here during those times, and not everything in history has been positive, but we’re also here to learn from our mistakes, and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in the city of Arcadia.”

    Who is Roy Nakamura: Nakamura, a native of Guam, graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in social science.

    • He started his career at the Arcadia Police Department in 1992 and later worked as a Field Training Officer.
    • Nakamura was then promoted to detective and assigned to the Forgery and Fraud Unit.
    • The captain was promoted again in 2002 to Sergeant and worked as a Field Supervisor until 2009 when he climbed up the ranks as Lieutenant.
    • Nakamura received his Captain rank in October 2019 and began to command the Operations Division, according to the Arcadia Police Department’s website.
    • “I am honored to be named the next Police Chief for the City of Arcadia,” Nakamura said. “The Arcadia Police Department is one of the finest law enforcement organizations in the country. I appreciate the support and confidence of the City Manager, City Council, the men and women of the Arcadia Police Department, and the entire Arcadia community.”
    • He will be serving a city that has a 61% Asian population.

    Feature Image via @LASDBrink (left), U.S. Department of the Interior (right)

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