Cougar Interview—Darryl Qualls ’96
With more than 35 years in law enforcement, Darryl Qualls ’96, chief deputy for the Pasadena Police Department, understands the importance of trust between the public and its local police officers. While books and training prepared him for a wide range of roles—from drug prevention and disaster preparedness to hostage negotiations and terrorism research—his upbringing in the town he serves today prepared his heart and soul to promote racial reconciliation between the police and his community.
APU LIFE: How has your experience informed the way you approach your work?
QUALLS: My involvement began in early childhood during the tumultuous 1960s. My family stuck together, and we spent a lot of time at each other’s homes for social functions. I watched how my parents’ generation supported and believed in one another. The way my friends and family treated each other impressed me and encouraged the development of a worldview that was inclusive, helpful, and nurturing. I believe I brought that spirit with me to police work.
APU LIFE: Why is community relations important to you, and what is your vision for the future in Pasadena?
QUALLS: It does take a village to raise a child. I grew up in northwest Pasadena, born in a hospital that is now the Pasadena Public Health building. I guess you could say I was community-oriented from birth. The people make a city or a town special. When the residents believe in the area in which they live, it thrives. When neighbors believe in themselves, education takes root. Businesses want to be in a vibrant, growing place. This also forms the foundation of a positive relationship with the police department and city government. These are the ingredients for great cities.
APU LIFE: Your roles over the years have been vast and varied. What have you found to be the toughest responsibility?
QUALLS: Day to day my job is to implement the vision and chart the path for the department of more than 380 employees as set by our chief and our city’s leaders. Although this is a tremendous responsibility, I am most proud of helping men and women get back on their feet after the devastating impact of drugs. It’s rewarding to hear that some of the young people whose lives I’ve touched have gone on to become teachers, business owners, and attorneys.
APU LIFE: What do you hope to accomplish?
QUALLS: I helped found the Pasadena/Altadena Reintegration Council, which helps men and women who are released home after incarceration get back on their feet. This population is generally discarded, shunned, or ostracized. Yet, many of the people who have been arrested are no different from you or me. I always say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Any one of us can find ourselves in this situation simply by one lapse in judgment. In fact, many of the people who were formerly incarcerated were friends of mine from high school. Some have been incarcerated for many years, and it is my hope to simply help them in any way I can. What do I want to accomplish? Instill hope.
APU LIFE: What keeps you motivated to continue this challenging work for more than three decades?
QUALLS: I believe in what I do, and I’m here to serve. Even though the road gets tough and my profession gets criticized, I know many great police officers dedicated to service—to find a lost child, to catch the guy that has raped a woman, to help bring stability to a tumultuous family relationship, or to hold the hand of a family who loses a loved one. These are the great acts of service that have kept me motivated throughout these years.
APU LIFE: What message would you most like to share with the public about the value of a strong connection between law enforcement and residents?
QUALLS: Sir Robert Peele, founder of modern law enforcement, captured it best: “The public are the police and the police are the public.” When the police and the public believe in each other and share goals, communities flourish. I love being a small part of that dynamic.
Posted: March 17, 2016