Rizzo, Frank L.

Rizzo, Frank L.

(1920–91) police official, mayor; born in Philadelphia. Working up through the ranks of the Philadelphia Police Department, he was named police commissioner (1967–71). He came to political prominence as the self-described "toughest cop in America," dedicated to stopping the decay of the inner cities. His controversial tactics as police commissioner were hailed by white ethnic constituents but were denounced by civil rights groups, creating racial polarization despite low crime rates. He was elected mayor of Philadelphia for two terms (1972–80), only to lose two general mayoral elections to W. Wilson Goode, (1983, 1987) Philadelphia's first black mayor.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.