Russell Taylor (The Closer)
|Assistant Chief Russell Taylor|
|First appearance||"Pilot" (The Closer)|
|Last appearance||"White Lies, Part I" (Major Crimes)|
|Created by||James Duff|
|Portrayed by||Robert Gossett|
|Occupation||Assistant Chief of Operations, LAPD|
Assistant Chief Russell Taylor was a fictional character featured in TNT's The Closer, portrayed by Robert Gossett. Commander Taylor is the Commanding Officer of the Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) Robbery-Homicide Division. He is also one of two characters on the show who have real-life equivalents on the LAPD, although his rank is one step higher. A hard worker who has risen through the ranks, he is extremely resentful of Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson's status and the respect she receives from the officers working with her. He does what he can to undermine her at every turn, under the guise of trying to assist in the case. In The Closer spinoff, Major Crimes, Taylor becomes the Assistant Chief of Operations for the LAPD. In the episode "White Lies, Part I," Taylor is killed in the line of duty during a courtroom shooting.
He worked his way up to Captain after 21 years with the LAPD. Before Brenda Johnson transferred to Los Angeles, Taylor headed up the Priority Homicide Division. He was removed from that position when too many celebrity cases were handed to the DA with "less than compelling" evidence.
At the end of season 1, Taylor was promoted to the rank of Commander by Chief Pope in return for dropping a "conduct unbecoming an officer" complaint against Deputy Chief Johnson. Since his promotion, Taylor appears to be more willing to work with Johnson and even has asked for her help in a few cases, however he is still a vocal opponent of her condescending attitude.
After Assistant Chief Pope was appointed Chief of Police, Commander Taylor was promoted to Assistant Chief of Operations. In Major Crimes, he introduces a new policy of making deals with criminals rather than going to trial to save money. While this is initially unpopular with the squad, except Captain Sharon Raydor, they have adapted to the changes. When giving Raydor the job as head of Major Crimes, both Taylor and Pope promised her a promotion to Commander, but this is revealed to have been a lie due to a hiring freeze. Instead, Taylor states that her taking over Major Crimes is the promotion she was promised.
In "White Lies, Part 1", white supremacist Dwight Darnell opens fire on a courtroom while on trial for murder. Taylor is shot multiple times before Darnell is brought down by Sharon Raydor. Despite the best efforts of Doctor Morales, Taylor dies of his wounds. The Major Crimes squad are deeply affected by his death despite their differences with him.
In "White Lies, Part 3", Fritz Howard tells Sharon Raydor that a park is being built on the location of the condemned buildings once belonging to the Zyklon Brotherhood and it will be dedicated in Taylor's honor.
Through the second half of season 5, there is a competition between a reluctant Sharon, Deputy Chief Winnie Davis and Commander Leo Mason to replace Taylor as Assistant Chief with Fritz Howard working as Acting Assistant Chief in the interim. In "Shockwave, Part 2", Mason is promoted to take Taylor's place with Fritz returning to his old job as Deputy Chief of SOB. As one of his first acts, Mason grants Sharon the promotion to Commander that Taylor had denied her when she took over Major Crimes.
Tough and extremely ambitious, Taylor earned the loyalty of his detectives by helping them gain advanced education and promotions. Taylor has demonstrated resentment and insecurity ever since he was taken off the Priority Homicide Squad and was passed up for a promotion. He is extremely unhappy about Brenda Johnson's joining the LAPD as Deputy Chief, and he will do practically anything to undermine her authority or get rid of her altogether.
Manipulative and power hungry, Taylor isn't above tampering with an investigation or lying to undercut Johnson. The only thing more important to Taylor than demoralizing Johnson is being promoted. Because of his malicious behavior, Taylor is beginning to lose the respect of many detectives who formerly admired him. It was most evident in Lt. Flynn, once as anti-Brenda as Taylor, soon came around after she defended him in a cold case where his mistakes could have cost him his job and pension while his erstwhile friend Taylor was more than willing to "throw him to the wolves".
Taylor was temporarily given control of the detectives in the Priority Homicide Division while Dep. Chief Johnson was on administrative leave at the end of season 2, following a shooting incident in the murder room, during which Lt. Provenza's gun was used by a federal protective witness to kill a federal officer.
Taylor, however, grew to respect Chief Johnson's abilities when she helped solve the murder of his family friend's son. As time has passed the two have worked better together and the animosity between their divisions has decreased considerably.
Following the departure of Chief Johnson, Taylor is promoted to Assistant Chief and begins pushing a new policy of making deals rather than going to trial to save the LAPD money. However, while he at times clashes with the team, he also proves an ally at points such as coming up with a breakthrough that helps solve the Wade Weller case and being supportive of Rusty and Sharon Raydor, being noticeably angry with Daniel Dunn for his treatment of Rusty, staying at the Philip Stroh trial when no one else is allowed there to show his support and being there when Raydor officially adopts Rusty as support. Despite the frustration they occasionally cause each other, Taylor gets along fairly well with Raydor, arguing his decisions which isn't always what she agrees with and usually giving in with the stipulation of a deadline instead of doing what he wants right away. On other occasions, he completely refuses to accede to her requests but makes a compromise such as the time she asked him to send a detective to Boston to investigate the past of a suspect who had lived there and was reported missing years before. He refused to send a detective due to budget problems, but compromised by using his connections at the Boston PD to get the suspect's missing persons file for her.
Despite his issues with them, the Major Crimes squad was shown to have great regard for Taylor and his death deeply affected all of them. As the squad worked to solve the conspiracy that led to his murder, Taylor was described as a hero by Fritz Howard who stated that his memory would be honored by them catching the people responsible for his death.
Awards and decorations
The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by Assistant Chief Taylor.
|LAPD Liberty Award|
|LAPD Human Relations Medal|
|LAPD Community Policing Medal|
|LAPD Police Meritorious Service Medal|
|LAPD 1987 Papal Visit Ribbon|
|LAPD 1994 Earthquake Ribbon|
|LAPD 1992 Civil Disturbance Ribbon|