Calif. fire chief fired following ‘throat’ comments

Manhattan Beach Fire Chief Daryn Drum was terminated for using the phrase "not taking our foot off their throat," among other comments, during a meeting


Andrew J. Campa
Los Angeles Times

The use of the phrase "not taking our foot off their throat," made multiple times by Manhattan Beach Fire Chief Daryn Drum, along with other remarks, led to his firing Friday evening.

Manhattan Beach City Manager Bruce Moe issued a statement at 7 p.m. stating that Drum was "served with a notice of termination" and that Police Chief Derrick Abell will step in on an interim basis.

Chief Drum was fired Friday after using the analogy a “foot ... on their throat” when referencing negotiations with local vendors. (Photo/City of Manhattan Beach)
Chief Drum was fired Friday after using the analogy a “foot ... on their throat” when referencing negotiations with local vendors. (Photo/City of Manhattan Beach)

Abell previously served as acting fire chief before the city hired Drum in April 2019.

"We need thoughtful leaders offering voices that are open and inclusive," Moe said in a statement. "Chief Drum's recent comments do not reflect our core values as a city, and an immediate change of Fire Department leadership is in the community's best interests."

A call to a cellphone listed for Drum was not returned.

Drum oversaw a staff of 31 firefighters and a professional administrative staff that handled a variety of duties, including emergency response and community support services.

The city released a 67-second excerpt Friday in which Drum speaks during a meeting of regional public safety officials. When and where this meeting took place is unknown, and a call to the city manager's office was not immediately returned.

According to the city manager, Drum speaks about negotiations with an external vendor when he says, "Pardon my vernacular," then, "I think our foot … needs to be clearly on their throat, and they need to feel it, and they need to feel that constant pressure every single day that we mean business."

He mentions a foot being on a throat three times during the clip, less than a month after a Minnesota police officer held a knee on George Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes. Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died.

Moe's statement also references comments made by Drum regarding "police interactions and civil unrest" on the "South Bay Show" podcast with Jackie Balestra on June 11.

It's unclear exactly what statements Moe was referring to in the podcast.

There was a point in the show in which Drum sided with law enforcement and put the focus on violence on those being arrested.

"You're one good shooting away from civil unrest, and now it's changed to you're one violent interaction — and the officer oftentimes doesn't control the level of violence that comes with that interaction — the person that they're in contact with is really the one in control," Drum said. "If you comply, there is no violence. If you respond with violence, then the officer has no choice."

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©2020 the Los Angeles Times

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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