William Henry Parker III (June 21, 1905 – July 16, 1966) was the police chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and has been called "... Los Angeles's greatest and most controversial chief of police". He was the longest serving police chief and served on the force 39 years. The former headquarters for the LAPD, the Parker Center, was named after him.
Parker was born in Lead City but raised in Deadwood, South Dakota. Like many Midwesterners, the Parker family migrated to Los Angeles, California in 1922 for better opportunities, when the city was advertised as the "white spot of America" during that period. Parker originally wanted to be an attorney, but later decided to join the Los Angeles Police Department on August 8, 1927. He served as an LAPD officer for 15 years before taking a leave to fight in World War II. He received a Purple Heart after being wounded during the Normandy invasion, and an Italian Star. As soon as he returned home he was re-assigned to basic patrol status with the LAPD.
Parker became police chief on August 9, 1950, and is credited with transforming the LAPD into a world-renowned law enforcement agency.