Chief Johnnie Adams Kilts It For Breast Cancer

The mood is jovial and the crowd is large and lively at Santa Monica College Police Department’s Taco Tuesday breast cancer fundraiser, but one element stands out above all the festivities: Chief of Police Johnnie Adams standing proudly in a kilt.

Just how exactly did the director of our prestigious boys in blue come to be standing in such peculiar clothing amongst pink tables littered with pink-foiled chocolate coins and pink bubblegum dum-dums? Well, according to Adams it all started with a joke.

“There’s a company called 5.11 Tactical… about 5 years ago [they] did an April Fool’s joke. They did a video with this kilt, and they said this is the 5.11 tactical kilt… they kind of made it as a parody,” Adams explained with a chuckle. “Well... they sold 4,000 that first year.”

“Since then, they've been making the kilts every year and we have a foundation that gives money to victims of Hurricane Harvey and things like that and this last year they were able to raise $33,000 for our foundation. So I was joking to them, since we're doing this breast cancer awareness as well as raising money for cancer research for the City of Hope, I said ‘I'll wear a kilt if you can raise $750.”

The idea caught fire, according to Adams they were able to raise an incredible $850 for the so-called “Chief Adams Kilt Fund” in a single day, including a personal donation from SMC President Kathryn Jeffery herself. In one fell swoop, the Chief’s kilt-donning fate was sealed.

“I promised people I'd go to my meetings this way. I've already been to Emeritus and gotten some weird looks… then I'll be at the board meeting this way too… so it'll be an interesting day,” said Adams, reflecting on the reactions to his attire. “I did have a couple cat calls but it just goes with the territory until they know why you're doing it. But I think that if you bring a little humor to this tragic disease—you know, my father died of cancer and so I'm very passionate about it—I think that if there's any way that we can raise more money than we did last year then I'd be really happy… it's important that it's okay to make fun of ourselves every once in a while if it's for a good cause, and I think it's something that will help with bringing our community together.”

Plus, Adams jokes, the pockets even fit an AR-15 magazine. “You know, if it has that much potential to raise this much money then, heck, I'd wear it more. I just have to make sure I have a change of clothes in case I really have to do things.”

Thanks to today's Taco Tuesday fundraiser, the department has raised an additional $2,500 toward their goal to beat last year’s total of $6,300, passing the threshold at which campus-favorite Sergeant Jere Romano agreed to join Chief Adams in a kilt at a later date.

The fundraiser is part of a larger initiative called the Pink Patch Project, which raised more than $300,000 nationwide last year for breast cancer awareness and research. “It's a great cause, it's growing,” said Adams. “We're hoping to make it a nationwide cause so that all the police departments for the month of October do something like that and hopefully one day we'll cure this disease.”