Los Angeles Police Department

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Los Angeles Police Department
Seal of the Los Angeles Police Department.png
Seal of the Los Angeles Police Department
Badge of the Los Angeles Police Department.png
Badge of the Los Angeles Police Department
Flag of Los Angeles, California.svg
Flag of Los Angeles
Motto"To Protect and to Serve"
Agency overview
Formed1869 [1]
Annual budget$1.4 billion
Legal personalityGovernmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction*State of California, United States
LA County Incorporated Areas Los Angeles highlighted.svg
Map of Los Angeles Police Department's jurisdiction.
Size503 sq mi (1,300 km2)
Population3.8 million
Legal jurisdictionLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Governing bodyLos Angeles City Council
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed byLos Angeles Board of Police Commissioners
Headquarters100 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Police Officers10,023 [2]
Unsworn members2,879
Agency executives
  • Charles L. Beck,
    Chief of Police
  • Earl Paysinger, Assistant Chief - Operations[3]
  • Michel Moore, Assistant Chief - Special Operations[3]
  • Sandy Jo MacArthur, Assistant Chief - Administrative Services[3]
  • Debra McCarthy, Deputy Chief - Professional Standards
  • Rick Jacobs, Deputy Chief - Chief of Staff
Police Boats2
Dogs2 Bloodhounds
20 German Shepherds
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.
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"LAPD" redirects here. For other uses, see LAPD (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 34°03′09″N 118°14′40″W / 34.052405°N 118.24446°W / 34.052405; -118.24446

Los Angeles Police Department
Seal of the Los Angeles Police Department.png
Seal of the Los Angeles Police Department
Badge of the Los Angeles Police Department.png
Badge of the Los Angeles Police Department
Flag of Los Angeles, California.svg
Flag of Los Angeles
Motto"To Protect and to Serve"
Agency overview
Formed1869 [1]
Annual budget$1.4 billion
Legal personalityGovernmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction*State of California, United States
LA County Incorporated Areas Los Angeles highlighted.svg
Map of Los Angeles Police Department's jurisdiction.
Size503 sq mi (1,300 km2)
Population3.8 million
Legal jurisdictionLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Governing bodyLos Angeles City Council
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed byLos Angeles Board of Police Commissioners
Headquarters100 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Police Officers10,023 [2]
Unsworn members2,879
Agency executives
  • Charles L. Beck,
    Chief of Police
  • Earl Paysinger, Assistant Chief - Operations[3]
  • Michel Moore, Assistant Chief - Special Operations[3]
  • Sandy Jo MacArthur, Assistant Chief - Administrative Services[3]
  • Debra McCarthy, Deputy Chief - Professional Standards
  • Rick Jacobs, Deputy Chief - Chief of Staff
Police Boats2
Dogs2 Bloodhounds
20 German Shepherds
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is the police department of the city of Los Angeles, California. With 10,023 officers[4] and 2,879 civilian staff, it is the third-largest non-federal law enforcement agency in the United States, after the New York City Police Department and the Chicago Police Department.[5] The department serves an area of 498 square miles (1,290 km2) and a population of 3,792,621 people as of the 2010 Census.

The LAPD has been fictionalized in numerous movies, novels and television shows throughout its history. The department has also been associated with a number of controversies, mainly concerned with racial animosity, police brutality and police corruption.


Venice station circa. 1920

The first specific Los Angeles police force was founded in 1853 as the Los Angeles Rangers, a volunteer force that assisted the existing County forces.[6][7] The Rangers were soon succeeded by the Los Angeles City Guards, another volunteer group. Neither force was particularly efficient and Los Angeles became known for its violence, gambling and vice.[6]

The first paid force was created in 1869, when six officers were hired to serve under City Marshal William C. Warren.[6] By 1900, under John M. Glass, there were 70 officers, one for every 1,500 people. In 1903, with the start of the Civil Service, this force was increased to 200.[6]

During World War II, under Clemence B. Horrall, the overall number of personnel was depleted by the demands of the military.[8] Despite efforts to maintain numbers, the police could do little to control the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots.[8]

An LAPD CVPI drives past the Staples Center in June 2002.

Horrall was replaced by a retired United States Marine Corps General William A. Worton, who acted as interim chief until 1950, when William H. Parker succeeded him and would serve until his death in 1966. Parker advocated police professionalism and autonomy from civilian administration. However, the Bloody Christmas scandal in 1951 led to calls for civilian accountability and an end to alleged police brutality.[9]

Under Parker, Inspector Daryl Gates[10] LAPD also created the first SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team in United States law enforcement.[11] Officer John Nelson and then-inspector Daryl Gates created the program in 1965 to deal with threats from radical organizations such as the Black Panther Party operating during the Vietnam War era.[11]

The old headquarters for the LAPD was Parker Center, named after former chief William H. Parker, which still stands at 150 N. Los Angeles St. The new headquarters is the new Police Administration Building located at 100 W. 1st St., immediately south of Los Angeles City Hall, which officially opened in October 2009.


Parker Center, the former headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The New Police Administration Building (opened October 2009).

Board of Police Commissioners[edit]

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners is a five-member body of appointed officials which oversees the LAPD.[12] The board is responsible for setting policies for the department and overseeing the LAPD's overall management and operations. The Chief of Police reports to the board, but the rest of the department reports to the chief.[13]

Office of the Chief[edit]

The Office of the Chief of Police is the administrative office comprising the chief of staff, the Employee Relations Group, the Public Information Office, and RACR/COMPSTAT. Also reporting to the chief of police is the special assistant for constitutional policing, whose office is divided into Fiscal Operations Division, Risk Management Division, Research and Planning Division, and Internal Audits and Inspections Division. The Professional Standards Bureau, which includes the Internal Affairs Group, Special Operations Division and Force Investigation Division, also reports directly to the chief of police.

Real-time Analysis and Critical Response Division/COMPSTAT (Computer Statistics) maintains crime data. It holds regular weekly meetings within a purpose-built suite in the new Police Administration Building with the Chief of Police and senior officers. COMPSTAT is based on the NYPD CompStat unit that was created in 1994 by former LAPD Chief William Bratton, while he was still a NYPD Police Commissioner.[14] He implemented the LAPD version on becoming Chief of Police in 2002.[15]

The Real-Time Analysis & Critical Response Division began operations in March 2006. It is composed of the Department Operations Section, which includes the Department Operations Center Unit, Department Operations Support Unit and the Incident Command Post Unit; Detective Support Section and the Crime Analysis Section.[16]

Office of Operations[edit]

The majority of the LAPD's approximately 10,000[4] officers are assigned within the Office of Operations, whose primary office is located in the new Police Administration Building.[17] An assistant chief commands the office, and reports directly to the chief of police.

The LAPD Office of Operations comprises 21 police stations, known officially as "areas" but also commonly referred to as "divisions."[18]

The 21 police stations or "divisions" are grouped geographically into four command areas, each known as a "bureau."[18] The latest areas, "Olympic" and "Topanga," were added on January 4, 2009.[19]

Structure chart[edit]

Central BureauSouth BureauValley BureauWest Bureau
Central Area (1)77th Street Area (12)Devonshire Area (17)Hollywood Area (6)
Hollenbeck Area (4)Harbor Area (5)Foothill Area (16)Olympic Area (20)
Newton Area (13)Southeast Area (18)Mission Area (19)Pacific Area (14)
Northeast Area (11)Southwest Area (3)North Hollywood Area (15)West Los Angeles Area (8)
Rampart Area (2)Van Nuys Area (9)Wilshire Area (7)
West Valley Area (10)
Topanga Area (21)

Operations - Central Bureau[edit]

Central Facilities Building.

The Central Bureau is responsible for downtown Los Angeles and Eastern Los Angeles,[20] and is the most densely populated of the four patrol bureaus.[20] It consists of five patrol divisions and a traffic division, which handles traffic-related duties such as accident investigation and the issuing of citations/tickets.[21]

The new Rampart Division police station.
Division NumberDivision NameAreas Served
1Central AreaDowntown, the Fashion District, the Financial District.[22]
2Rampart AreaEcho Park, Pico-Union, Westlake[23]
4Hollenbeck AreaBoyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno.[24]
11Northeast AreaElysian Park, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Hollywood, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Atwater Village, Glassell Park.[25]
13Newton AreaSouth Los Angeles, portions of Downtown and the Fashion District.[26]

Operations - South Bureau[edit]

The South Bureau oversees South Los Angeles with the exception of Inglewood[27] and Compton, which are both separate cities that maintain their own law enforcement agencies (in Compton's case, a contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department).[28] The South Bureau consists of four patrol divisions, Criminal Gang and Homicide Division and a traffic division, which handles traffic-related duties such as accident investigation and the issuing of citations/tickets.[29]

77th Street Division

The 77th Street Area (#12) serves a portion of South Los Angeles, roughly in an area south of Vernon Avenue, west of the Harbor Freeway, north of Manchester Avenue and points west to the city limits, including the Crenshaw region. A section of South Central Los Angeles that borders Florence, Central and Manchester Avenues to the Harbor Freeway is also part of this division The division's address is 7600 S. BroadwayLos Angeles, CA 90003. The division also has a new program called the LAPD Junior Cadets. The junior cadets age varies from 9 to 13. After they are 13 they join the Cadets. Only this division has this for kids who want to join. Ask for an application at the front desk.[30]

Harbor Division

The Harbor Area (#5) serves all of San Pedro, Wilmington and the Harbor Gateway annex south of Artesia Boulevard. This division often works with the Port of Los Angeles Police.[31] The 260 patrol officers, detectives and support staff are operated out of the new $40-million, 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) police station, which was opened on Friday, April 25, 2009. It is located at 2175 John S. Gibson Blvd.[32]

Southeast Division

The Southeast Area (#18), like the 77th Street Division, patrols a part of South Los Angeles.[33] Their area extends to the city limits north of Artesia Boulevard, includes Watts, and areas south of Manchester Avenue.[34]

Southwest Division

The Southwest Area (#3) serves all of the city limits south of the Santa Monica Freeway, west of the Harbor Freeway, north of Vernon Avenue, and east of the Culver City/Lennox/Baldwin Hills area.[35] This section also includes the University of Southern California and Exposition Park.[36]

Operations - Valley Bureau[edit]

The Valley Bureau is the largest of the four patrol bureaus in terms of size (about 221 square miles),[37] and oversees operations within the San Fernando Valley.[37] It consists of seven patrol divisions and a traffic division, which handles traffic-related duties such as accident investigation and the issuing of citations/tickets.[38]

Mission Division

The Mission Area (#19) community police station began operations in May 2005. This was the first new station to be created in more than a quarter of a century. The Mission Area covers the eastern half of the old Devonshire and the western half of the Foothill Divisions in the San Fernando Valley, including Mission Hills and Panorama City.[39]

Devonshire Division

The Devonshire Area (#17) is responsible for the northwestern parts of the San Fernando Valley, including parts of Chatsworth and Northridge.[40]

Foothill Division

The Foothill Area (#16) patrols parts of the San Fernando Valley (including Sun Valley) and the Crescenta Valley (including Sunland-Tujunga).[41]

North Hollywood Division

The North Hollywood Area (#15) is responsible for Studio City, Valley Village and the North Hollywood Region.[42]

Van Nuys Division

The Van Nuys Area (#9) serves the area of Van Nuys, California.[43]

West Valley Division

The West Valley Area (#10) is responsible for parts of the San Fernando Valley, including parts of Encino, Northridge, Reseda and Winnetka, where it is based.[44]

Topanga Division

The Topanga (#21) community police station began operations on January 4, 2009.[19] It is responsible for parts of the San Fernando Valley that are within the city's 3rd Council District (represented by former officer Dennis Zine), including Woodland Hills and Canoga Park, where it is based.[45]

Operations – West Bureau[edit]

The West Bureau's operations cover most of the well-known areas of Los Angeles, including Hollywood, Westwood, the Hollywood Hills area, the UCLA campus and Venice.[46] This does not include Beverly Hills[47] and Santa Monica,[48] which are separate from Los Angeles and maintain their own law enforcement agencies. The West Bureau consists of five patrol divisions and a traffic division, which handles traffic-related duties such as accident investigation and the issuing of citations and tickets.[49] Traffic Divisions also conduct DUI enforcement through a DUI Task Force composed mostly of motorcycle or "motor" officers. In addition to this overt enforcement activity, the traffic detective bureau houses a Habitual Traffic Offender Unit (also known as an H2O detail), which conducts undercover surveillance of habitual DUI offenders and other criminals with suspended licenses.

Hollywood Division

The Hollywood Area (#6) community police station serves the Hollywood region, including the Hollywood Hills, Hollywood Boulevard and the Sunset Strip.[50]

Wilshire Division

The Wilshire Area (#7) community police station serves the Mid-Wilshire "Miracle Mile" region, including Koreatown, Mid-City, Carthay, and the Fairfax District.[51]

Pacific Division

The Pacific Area (#14) community police station serves the southern portion of West Los Angeles, including Venice Beach, Venice and Playa del Rey. Some officers assigned to the Pacific Division are commonly assigned to work with the Los Angeles Airport Police at the Los Angeles International Airport.[52] Pacific Division was formerly known as "Venice Division."

West Los Angeles Division

The West Los Angeles Area (#8) community police station serves the northern portion of the West Side.[53] Communities within its service area include Pacific Palisades, Century City, Brentwood, Westwood, West Los Angeles and Cheviot Hills. UCLA and Twentieth Century Fox are both located there.[54]

Olympic Division
One of the LAPD's newest stations, Olympic Division

The Olympic (#20) community police station opened its doors on January 4, 2009, with an open house on January 17. The Olympic Area will be a small section of the Hollywood Division, and is composed of areas from Rampart and Wilshire divisions.[19][55] It provides services to a 6.2-square-mile (16 km2) area of the Mid-City region, including Koreatown and a section of the Miracle Mile, with a population of 200,000.[55] The 54,000-square-foot (5,000 m2) station is located at the southeast corner of Vermont Avenue and Eleventh Street and houses 293 officers. The construction cost was $34 million.

Office of Special Operations[edit]

The Office of Special Operations is a new office that was created in 2010. Headed by an Assistant Chief and the Assistant to the Director, which is a Commander, the office comprises the Property Division, Jail Division, the Detective Bureau, and the Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau.

Detective Bureau[edit]

The Detective Bureau, which reports to the Director of the Office of Special Operations, consists of several divisions and sections responsible for investigating a variety of crimes.[56][57]

Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau[edit]

The Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau provides the Los Angeles Police Department specialized tactical resources in support of operations during daily field activities, unusual occurrences and, especially, during serious disturbances and elevated terrorism threat conditions.[58]

Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau was created from the merger of the Counter Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau with the Special Operations Bureau in 2010.

Structure of the Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau

Office of Administrative Services[edit]

The Office of Administrative Services is a new office that was created in 2010. Headed by an Assistant Chief and the Assistant to the Director, which is a Commander, the office is divided into the Behavioral Science Services, Use of Force Review Division, Information Technology Bureau, Administrative Services Bureau, and the Personnel and Training Bureau.

Rank structure and insignia[edit]

Senior ranksInsigniaNotes[59]
Chief of Police
US-O10 insignia.svg
Appointment made by the Mayor of Los Angeles, with majority approval of the Police Commission. Must have a college degree and 12 years in law enforcement.
Assistant Chief
(Police Deputy Chief II)
US-O9 insignia.svg
Eligible to be appointed to Deputy Chief I after at least one year's service as a Commander.
Police Deputy Chief I
US-O8 insignia.svg
Police Commander
US-O7 insignia.svg
Eligibility for rank promotion achieved after completion of required probationary periods.
Police Captain III
Police Captain II
Police Captain I
US-O3 insignia.svg
Police Lieutenant II
Police Lieutenant I
US-O2 insignia.svg
Insignia are worn as metal pins on the collars of a shirt and as shoulder marks on a jacket.
Police officersInsigniaDetectivesInsigniaNotes[59]
Police Sergeant II
LAPD Sergeant-2.jpg
Police Detective III
LAPD Detective-3.jpg
At least two years' service as Sergeant or Detective before eligibility for promotion to Lieutenant I.
Police Sergeant I
LAPD Sergeant-1.jpg
Police Detective II
LAPD Detective-2.jpg
Promotion based on panel interview/departmental assessment.
Police Detective I
LAPD Detective-1.jpg
Police Officer III ‡
LAPD Police Officer-3.jpg
At least one year's service as Police Officer III before becoming eligible for promotion to Sergeant I or Detective I (which requires an additional examination and interview).
Police Officer IINo insigniaAt least three years' service as a Police Officer II before eligibility for promotion to Police Officer III
Police Officer IAutomatic promotion to Police Officer II upon satisfactory completion of an 18-month probationary assignment (6 months at the academy plus a 12-month field assessments).
Insignia are worn as embroidered chevrons on the upper sleeves of a shirt or jacket.
LAPD Police Officer-3+1 - Senior Lead Officer.jpgCertain Police Officer IIIs in special or hazard pay situations (Police Officer III+1s) are denoted by a Police Officer III insignia and star. These roles can include traffic follow-up investigators, canine training handlers, SWAT assistant squad leaders, and Senior Lead Officers who coordinate geographical areas.[60]

Supervisory terminology[edit]

The following names are used to describe supervision levels within the LAPD:[61]

Staff OfficerAny rank above captain.
Commanding OfficerAny officer in charge of a bureau, a group, a geographical area, or a division.
DirectorAn officer commanding an Office of the LAPD.
Field CommanderAny officer who takes command at an emergency situation or who is in command at a planned special events.
Watch CommanderAn officer in charge of a specific watch within a division or geographical area.
SupervisorAn officer engaged in field supervision or in general supervision of a section or unit.
Officer in Charge ‡An officer in charge of a section, incident or unit.

‡ As detectives are considered specialists within the LAPD, they are normally considered to be separate from the uniformed line of command. The senior-most detective is therefore permitted to take charge of an incident when it is necessary for investigative purposes superseding the chain-of-command of other higher-ranking officers in attendance.[61]:125

Chiefs of Police[edit]

Since 1876, there have been 56 appointed chiefs of the Los Angeles Police Department. William H. Parker was the longest serving police chief in Los Angeles Police Department history, serving for 16 years as chief.[62]



An LAPD captain examines a U.S. Marine LAV-25 in April 2010.

The Los Angeles Police Department has suffered from chronic underfunding and under-staffing in recent years.[63] Compared to most other major cities in the United States, and though it's the third largest police department in the country, Los Angeles has historically had one of the lowest ratios of police personnel to population served.[63] Former police chief William J. Bratton made enlarging the force one of his top priorities (Bratton has been quoted as saying, "You give me 4,000 more officers and I'll give you the safest city in the world").[64]

The Los Angeles Police Department protects its city with only one officer for every 426 residents.[63] As a point of comparison, New York City boasts one NYPD officer for every 228 residents.[63] For Los Angeles to have the same ratio of officers as New York City, the LAPD would need to have nearly 17,000 officers. Further points of comparison include Chicago, which has a ratio of one officer per 216 citizens and Philadelphia, whose officer per citizen ratio is 1 to 219.[63]

In recent years, the department had been conducting a massive recruiting effort, with a goal of hiring an additional 1,500 police officers. The city has four specialized agencies, not affiliated with the LAPD directly, which serve the Port, the Airport, and the Unified School District.


The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) is the labor union for LAPD officers up to the rank of lieutenant.[65]


Up until the Gates administration, the LAPD was predominantly white (80% in 1980), and many officers had resided outside the city limits.[66] Simi Valley, the Ventura County suburb that later became infamous as the site of the state trial that immediately preceded the 1992 Los Angeles riots, has long been home to a particularly large concentration of LAPD officers, almost all of them white.[66] A 1994 ACLU study of officers' home zip codes, concluded that over 80% of police officers resided outside the city limits.[66]

Hiring quotas began to change this during the 1980s, but it was not until the Christopher Commission reforms that substantial numbers of black, Hispanic, and Asian officers began to join the force. Minority officers can be found in both rank-and-file and leadership positions in virtually all divisions, and the LAPD is starting to reflect the general population.

The LAPD hired the first female police officer in the United States in 1910, Alice Stebbins Wells.[67] Since then, women have been a small, but growing part of the force. Through the early 1970s, women were classified as "policewomen" on the LAPD.[68] Through the 1950s, their duties generally consisted as working as matrons in the jail system, or dealing with troubled youths working in detective assignments.[68] Rarely did they work any type of field assignment and they were not allowed to promote above the rank of sergeant.[68]

A lawsuit by a policewoman, Fanchon Blake, from the 1980s instituted court ordered mandates that the department begin actively hiring and promoting women police officers in its ranks.[68] The department eliminated the rank of "Policeman" from new hires at that time along with the rank of "Policewoman."[68] Anyone already in those positions was grandfathered in, but new hires were classified instead as "Police Officers," which continues to this day.[68] In 2002, women made up 18.9% of the force.

In 1886, the department hired its first two black officers, Robert William Stewart and Roy Green.[69] Despite this, the department was slow at integration. During the 1965 Watts Riot, only 5 of the 205 police assigned to South Central Los Angeles were black, despite the fact that it was the largest black community in Los Angeles. Los Angeles' first black mayor Tom Bradley was an ex-police officer and quit the department after being unable to advance past the rank of lieutenant like other black police in the department. When Bradley was elected mayor in 1972, only 5% of the LAPD was black[70] and there was only one black captain in the department, Homer Broome. Broome would break down racial barriers on the force going on to become first black officer to obtain the rank of commander and the first black to command a police station, the Southwest Division which included historically black neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles in 1975.[71]

According to the LAPD and Latin American Law Enforcement Association, in 2013, the Los Angeles Police Department was 81% male, 34.9% of the department was white, 43.6% of the department was Hispanic/Latino, 11.6% was African American, 7.2% was Asian, 2.2% was Filipino American, and 0.8% Indian and Other Ethnicities.[72][73]

Work environment[edit]

LAPD officers at crime scene

LAPD patrol officers have a three-day 12-hour and four-day 10-hour work week schedule. The department has over 250 types of job assignments, and each officer is eligible for such assignments after two years on patrol. LAPD patrol officers almost always work with a partner, unlike most suburban departments surrounding the city of Los Angeles, which deploy officers in one-officer units in order to maximize police presence and to allow a smaller number of officers to patrol a larger area.

The department's training division has three facilities throughout the city, including Elysian Park, Ahmanson Recruit Training Center (Westchester), and the Edward Davis Training Center (Granada Hills).[74]

From spring 2007 through the spring of 2009, new recruits could earn money through sign on bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. Those bonuses ended in 2009.[75][76] Sign on bonuses were paid 1/2 after graduation from the academy, and 1/2 after completion of probation.[76] Also, $2,000 could be added for out of town sign ons for housing arrangements.[76] As of July 2009, new recruits earned starting salaries of $56,522–$61,095 depending on education level, and began earning their full salary on their first day of academy training.[77]

As of January 2010, the starting base salary for high school graduates was lowered to $45,226. If the applicant has at least 60 college units, with an overall GPA of 2.0 or better, the applicant will start at $47,043. If the applicant has a BA or BSc (four year) degree, the applicant will start at $48,880.


For more details on this topic, see Los Angeles Police Department resources.
SWAT's truck.


Before the early 1970s, LAPD officers were issued the six-shot double action/single action Smith & Wesson Model 14 .38 Special revolver. From the early 1970s to 1988, officers were armed with the six-shot, double action/single action Smith & Wesson Model 15 revolver, also known as the .38 "Combat Masterpiece". This was specifically designed at the request of the Los Angeles Police Department. It was a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson Model 10 variant with non-snag, high profile adjustable sights.

LAPD Model 15s were often modified by an armorer to fire double-action only, meaning officers could not cock the hammer. This was to prevent accidental discharges caused by the short, light single-action trigger pull that some officers used. Many officers and detectives also carried the Model 36 "Chief's Special" as a backup revolver, and often off-duty.

In the patrol cars, locked to a steel bar, was an Ithaca Model 37, 12-gauge shotgun, loaded with "00" (double-aught) buckshot, nine pellets to the cartridge with one round in the chamber and four in the magazine tube. The shotgun was made specifically for the Los Angeles Police Department, and was called the "L.A.P.D. Special". The shotgun was based on the Ithaca Model 37 "Deerslayer", which was a weapon designed to hunt large game with rifled slugs. As a consequence of being designed for use with slugs, it had rifle sights, unlike most shotguns.

The "L.A.P.D. Special" had a dull parkerized military finish instead of the more usual high gloss blue finish. The barrel was 18 and a half inches long, as opposed to the twenty inches of the civilian version. The advantages of the Ithaca Model 37 Shotgun over the Winchester, Mossberg and Remington models were that the Ithaca weighed a pound less, and could be used with equal ease by right or left-handed shooters due to the unique bottom ejection port and loading chamber it used. The Ithaca 37 is still in use today as the main shotgun carried by LAPD officers, and has been in use since the 1940s.

In response to increasing firepower carried by criminals, including fully automatic weapons and assault rifles, LAPD patrol officers were issued the Beretta 92F. Later, officers were able to carry the Smith & Wesson Model 5906, a semi-automatic 9mm pistol, in addition to a few other approved weapons in 9mm caliber.

In response to the North Hollywood shootout of 1997, LAPD officers had the option of carrying the Smith & Wesson Model 4506 and 4566 service pistols in .45 ACP caliber. Also due to the North Hollywood incident, qualified officers were issued patrol rifles called UPR (Urban Police Rifle) consisting mainly of AR-15 variants chambered in .223 after being certified from LAPD Urban Police Rifle School.

Until 2002, LAPD officers' standard issue pistol was the Beretta 92F/92FS. However, when William Bratton was appointed Chief of the LAPD, he allowed his officers to carry the Glock pistol, a weapon which the two previous departments he was chief at (the New York City Police Department and the Boston Police Department) carried. New officers graduating from the LAPD academy are now issued the Glock 22 or Glock 17 but can qualify in a variety of firearms.[78] Officers now have the choice of carrying


92F, 92FS, 92FS-Stainless Steel, 8045 (4" barrel)

Smith & Wesson:

459, 5904, 5903, 659, 5906, 645, 4506, 4566, 4567, 5903 TSW, 5906 TSW, 4569 TSW, and 4566 TSW. The M&P series handguns have also been approved for use.


9mm: Model 34, Model 17, Model 19, Model 26
.40 caliber: Model 35, Model 22, Model 23, Model 27
.45 ACP: Model 21, 21SF

The LAPD SWAT team decided to go with the Kimber Custom TLE II in 2002, renaming it the Kimber LAPD SWAT Custom II.[79][80] Before that, LAPD SWAT carried modified Springfield or Colt M1911 pistols.[80] SWAT's primary weapons are the Heckler & Koch MP5 series submachine guns and most officers choose the fixed stock A2 model. For assistant weapons, officers carry AR-15s and CAR-15s. In the '80s and early '90s they carried Colt RO727s and RO733s. In 2000 they imported the M4A1s. In 2010 LAPD SWAT began issuing Heckler & Koch HK416 rifles.[81][82]

The LAPD recently announced that they will be incorporating a new shotgun, the Benelli M4 Super 90 and officers will go through additional training for the use of the semi-automatic shotgun and will have to privately purchase the gun if they elect to switch from the standard pump-action Remington 870. The LAPD also has 37mm launchers and modified "beanbag" firing Remington 870s for crowd control when less than lethal force is needed.[78]

LAPD awards, commendations, citations and medals[edit]

The department presents a number of medals to its members for meritorious service.[83] The medals that the LAPD awards to its officers are as follows:


The Los Angeles Police Department Medal of Valor is the highest law enforcement medal awarded to officers by the Los Angeles Police Department. The Medal of Valor is an award for bravery, usually awarded to officers for individual acts of extraordinary bravery or heroism performed in the line of duty at extreme and life-threatening personal risk.[83][84][85]

Liberty Award.jpg

The Liberty Award is a bravery medal for police canines killed or seriously injured in the line of duty. The award, which was inaugurated in 1990, is named after Liberty, a Metropolitan Division K-9 shot and killed in the line of duty. Liberty's handler received the Medal of Valor for the same incident. So far it has only been awarded once in the LAPD's history.[83][85]


The Police Medal is an award for bravery, usually awarded to officers for individual acts of heroism in the line of duty, though not above and beyond the call of duty, as is required for the Medal of Valor.[83][85]


The Police Star is an award for bravery, usually awarded to officers for performing with exceptional judgment and/or utilizing skillful tactics in order to defuse dangerous and stressful situations.[83][85]


The Police Life-Saving Medal is an award for bravery, usually awarded to officers for taking action in order to rescue or attempt the rescue of either a fellow officer or any person from imminent danger.[83]








Unit citations[edit]




Given to any LAPD officer who saw service during the 1984 Summer Olympics from July 28 to August 12, 1984.[83][86]


Given to LAPD officers who were used during the September 1987 pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II.[83][87]


Given to any LAPD officer who saw service during the 1992 Los Angeles riots from April 29 to May 4, 1992.[83][88]


Given to any LAPD officer who saw service during the 1994 Northridge earthquake from January 17 to January 18, 1994.[83][89]

Reserve service ribbon.jpg

Awarded for 4000 hours of service as a Reserve Police officer.

Marksmanship Badges[edit]

The LAPD also awards Distinguished Expert, Expert, Sharpshooter, and Marksman badges to those who attain progressively higher qualification scores on its range. Bonus pay is given to qualifiers, and some assignments may require such demonstrated weapons skill beyond that earned in basic training.[90]

Fallen officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the Los Angeles Police Department, 204 officers have died in the line of duty.[91] In its long history, Randy Simmons was the first LAPD SWAT officer to be killed in the line of duty in 2008.[92] The Los Angeles Police Memorial is a monument outside Parker Center, the LAPD's old headquarters, and was unveiled on October 1, 1971.[93] The monument is a fountain made from black granite, the base of which is inscribed with the names of the LAPD officers who have died while serving the City of Los Angeles.[93]

The cause of deaths are as follows:

Cause of deathsNumber of deaths
Aircraft accident
Automobile accident
Bicycle accident
Gunfire (accidental)
Heart attack
Heat exhaustion
Motorcycle accident
Struck by streetcar
Struck by train
Struck by vehicle
Train accident
Training accident
Vehicle pursuit
Vehicular assault

Two deaths are unsolved,[94] both of off duty officers, Fred Early shot in 1972,[95] and Michael Lee Edwards shot in May 1974.[96]


Controversies among the LAPD include former detective Mark Fuhrman's role in the Nicole Simpson/Ron Goldman murder investigation (1994),[97][98][99] as well as the Rampart scandal-related Javier Ovando incident (In which Ovando, an unarmed teenage gang member, was shot, paralyzed, and framed by officers Rafael Perez and Nino Durden (1996)[100][101] and served 2½ years of a 23-year sentence before being exonerated),[100] the controversy surrounding the arrest of Stanley Miller (2004), the shooting death of 19-month-old Suzie Pena, who was shot in the head by police while being used as a human shield by her father (2005), and the LAPD's reaction to illegal immigrant rallies (2007).[102][103]

The widely publicized case of Christine and Walter Collins was depicted in the 2008 film Changeling. In March 1928, Christine Collins reported her nine-year-old son, Walter, missing. Five months later a boy named Arthur Hutchins came forth claiming to be Walter. When Mrs. Collins tried to tell the police that the boy was not her son, she was committed to a mental institution under a Section 12 internment. It was later determined that Walter had actually fallen victim to a child rapist/murderer in the infamous Wineville Chicken Coop Murders. Arthur Hutchins eventually admitted that he had lied about his identity in order to get to Hollywood and meet his favorite actor, Tom Mix.

Bloody Christmas was the name given to the severe beating of seven men by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department on December 25, 1951. The attacks, which left five hispanic and two white young men with broken bones and ruptured organs, was only properly investigated after lobbying from the Mexican American community. The internal inquiry by Los Angeles Chief of Police William H. Parker resulted in eight police officers being indicted for the assaults, 54 being transferred, and 39 suspended.[104]

In 1962, the controversial LAPD shooting of seven unarmed members of the Nation of Islam resulted in the death of Ronald Stokes, and led to protests of the LAPD led by Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam.[105] In 1972, Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt was framed by members of both the LAPD and FBI, and his conviction was overturned on appeal on February 18, 1999.[106] In 1988, African-American baseball sportscaster and retired Baseball Hall of Fame player Joe Morgan was detained at Los Angeles International Airport by LAPD and L.A. Airport Police officers after falsely being identified as a drug dealer.[107] He was released when the LAPD realized their mistake in identity. Morgan subsequently filed a civil suit against both the LAPD and the city after he was denied the opportunity to file a formal complaint against the LAPD. The lawsuit would eventually be settled in 1993, and Morgan was awarded $800,000 by the Los Angeles City Council.[107]

In 1986, the department purchased a 14-ton armored breaching vehicle, used to smash quickly through the walls of houses of suspects.[108] The ACLU questioned the constitutionality of the vehicle.[109] Ultimately, the California Appellate Court ruled that the vehicle was unconstitutional, violating lawful search and seizure.[110]

Early in his tenure as Chief of Police, Daryl Gates re-instituted the use of the choke hold (placing an arm or flashlight over someone's throat) to subdue suspects. In 1982, however, this technique left one suspect, James Mincey, Jr. in a coma for two weeks prior to his eventual death.[111] An investigation into the use of the choke hold found that sixteen people had died soon after being restrained by police choke holds.[112] After the NAACP and ACLU brought this to the attention to the public, the Department discontinued the use of the choke hold.[113]

In 1986, Officer Stephanie Lazarus killed her boyfriend's ex-wife. Despite her being an obvious suspect, the LAPD failed to pursue clues indicating she was the killer. In 2012, DNA evidence led to her arrest and conviction.[114]

The Los Angeles riots of 1992, also known as the Rodney King uprising or the Rodney King riots, began on April 29, 1992 when a jury acquitted four LAPD police officers accused in the videotaped beating of an African American Rodney King following a high-speed car pursuit on March 3, 1991.[115][116] Immediately following the King incident, the Christopher Commission was formed in July 1991.[117] The commission, chaired by attorney Warren Christopher (who later became U.S. Secretary of State),[118] investigated the LAPD's hiring practices, as well as their handling of excessive force complaints.[117] However, with the election of Richard Riordan in 1992 before the verdict, the reforms recommended by Christopher were put on hold.

After seven days of jury deliberations, the jury acquitted all four officers of assault and acquitted three of the four of using excessive force. The evening after the verdict, thousands of people in the Los Angeles area rioted over the six days following the verdict. Widespread looting, assault, arson, and murder occurred, and property damages totaled one billion dollars. In all, 53 people died during the riots.[119]

On 1 August 1988, as part of Chief Gates’ '’Operation Hammer,’’ directed against gangs, paramilitary teams raided four apartments at 39th Street and Dalton Avenue. According to an investigation by the department’s Internal Affairs, the team leader, Captain Thomas Elfmont directed his men to “hit" the apartments "hard," to "level" them, and to leave them "uninhabitable."

The police detained 37 people, making seven arrests. They also found six ounces of marijuana and a small amount of cocaine. The seven were beaten by the police and at the police station forced to whistle the theme to the '’Andy Griffith Show’’. Those who refused were beaten again. Nobody was charged with a crime. The city paid four million dollars to settle the matter.[120][121][122]

On September 4, 1988, LAPD officers raided the home of Roger Guydon looking for drugs. They found nothing. In 1991, Guydon won a $760,000 lawsuit against the city.[123][124]

In 1991, just prior to the highly public Rodney King beating, the department came under fire for brutality. One suspect, Michael Allen, was forced to lie on the ground. After verbally assaulting officers, Allen was struck, while in handcuffs, on the back of the head with a flashlight, causing Allen to go blind in one eye. After Allen had been completely subdued, officers shocked Allen with a taser.[125]

On 12 October 1996, LAPD Officers Rafael Pérez and Nino Durden entered the apartment of Javier Ovando. They shot the man in the back, paralyzing him from the waist down. They then planted a gun on the unarmed man to make it appear he had attacked them. The two officers then perjured themselves. Ovando was sentenced to 23 years in custody based on their testimony. Later one of the officers admitted his crime. Ovando was released and in 2000 paid $15 million for his injuries and imprisonment.[100]

In 2008, Officer Russell Mecano offered to not arrest a woman in exchange for sex, and offered cash to another woman in exchange for sex. He was convicted and sentenced to more than 8 years.[126]

In 2012, detective Stephanie Lazarus was sentenced to at least 27 years in prison for murdering a woman in 1986. The murder was covered up and only solved with DNA evidence.[127]

In July and August 2012, two suspects were injured and one suspect was killed during arrest actions undertaken by LAPD officers.

On July 22, 2012, Alesia Thomas an African American, mentally disabled single mother died in the back of a police car after being kicked in the genitals, taken to the ground, hogtied and stuffed into the back of a police car by officers [128] in the course of an arrest on suspicion of child endangerment after leaving her children in front of LAPD's Southeast station.[128]

On August 18, 2012, Ronald Weekley, Jr., a college student, was punched in the face while handcuffed on the ground after being stopped for riding his skateboard on the wrong side of the street.[129]

On August 21, 2012, Michelle Jordan, a registered nurse, was repeatedly thrown to the ground in the course of being arrested after being pulled over for holding her cell phone while driving.[129]

As a result of these events, on September 1, 2012, civil rights activists requested an emergency meeting with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck to review arrest and use-of-force policies.[130]

On February 7, 2013, the LAPD was involved in what Chief Charlie Beck called, "...a case of mistaken identity."[131] During the manhunt for suspected murderer and fired LAPD officer, Christopher Dorner, the LAPD and the Torrance Police Department fired upon pickup trucks at two separate locations, believing them to be Dorner. The first incident took place on the 19500 Block of Redbeam Avenue. LAPD officers fired numerous shots into the back of a blue pickup truck, allegedly without warning and injured the two women inside. The second incident, twenty-five minutes later, involved the Torrance Police shooting into the windshield of another pickup truck, narrowly missing the driver. In both cases the victims were not involved with the Dorner case.[132] The Dorner case itself involved allegations of impropriety by other LAPD officers, as Dorner alleged that he had been fired for reporting brutality by his training officer. The manhunt had been triggered by Dorner's alleged attacks against LAPD and ex-LAPD personnel. In 2013, the city agreed to pay $4.2 million to settle the matter.[133]

Rampart scandal and consent decree[edit]

Main article: Rampart scandal
See also: Consent decree

Following the Rampart Division C.R.A.S.H. scandal of the late 1990s - early 2000s, the United States Department of Justice entered into a consent decree with the LAPD regarding numerous civil rights violations.[134] Mayor Richard J. Riordan and the Los Angeles city council agreed to the terms of the decree on November 2, 2000. The federal judge formally entered the decree into law on June 15, 2001. The consent decree is legally binding, and lasted until July 17, 2009, when U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess terminated it.[135] Under the terms of a transitional agreement approved by Feess, the Board of Police Commissioners and the Office of Inspector General, which monitors the department on behalf of the Board of Police Commissioners, will assume responsibility for keeping tabs on the department's efforts to fully implement a few still-incomplete or recently finished reforms. If lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice are not satisfied with the oversight by the LAPD's inspector general, the agreement allows them to object and bring the department back before Feess.

The Rampart scandal mainly surrounded the unethical and illegal actions of members of the LAPD's anti-gang unit, Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH). In particular, Javier Ovando, an unarmed teenager, had been shot and paralyzed by then-officer Rafael Pérez. After the shooting, Pérez planted a gun on Ovando and claimed self-defense. Ovando was sent to prison, although later he was exonerated and released. By 2001, the resulting investigations would lead to more than 75 officers being investigated or charged and over 100 criminal cases being overturned due to perjury or other forms of misconduct,[136] much based on the plea-bargain testimony of Perez.[137]

The DOJ-LAPD consent decree places emphasis on the following nine major areas:[135]

The consent decree includes several recommendations from the Rampart Board of Inquiry, and several consent decree provisions mandate the department to continue existing policies. Some of the more complex or major provisions in the decree call for the following:[135]

There are several stakeholders in the LAPD consent decree compliance process. At the federal level, stakeholders include:[135]

As the consent decree is a binding agreement between the city and the DOJ, the following city entities are key stakeholders:[135]

The Consent Decree Bureau was the LAPD bureau charged with overseeing this process. Until 2009, the commanding officer of the Consent Decree Bureau, a civilian appointed by the chief of police, was Police Administrator Gerald L. Chaleff.[135][138]

In popular culture[edit]

The CBS radio show Calling All Cars hired LAPD radio dispacher Jesse Rosenquist to be the voice of the dispatcher. Rosenquist was already famous because home radios could tune into early police radio frequencies. As the first police radio dispatcher presented to the public ear, his was the voice that actors went to when called upon for a radio dispatcher role.

The iconic television series Dragnet, with LAPD Detective Joe Friday as the primary character, was the first major media representation of the department.[139] Real LAPD operations inspired Jack Webb to create the series and close cooperation with department officers let him make it as realistic as possible, including authentic police equipment and sound recording on-site at the police station.[139]

Due to Dragnet's popularity, LAPD Chief Parker "became after J. Edgar Hoover, the most well known and respected law enforcement official in the nation".[139] In the 1960s, when the LAPD under Chief Thomas Reddin expanded its community relations division and began efforts to reach out to the African-American community, Dragnet followed suit with more emphasis on internal affairs and community policing than solving crimes, the show's previous mainstay.[140]

Several prominent representations of the LAPD and its officers in television and film include Adam-12, The Rookies, Police Story, The Blue Knight, The Choirboys, Crime Wave, The Stone Killer, 10 to Midnight, Murphy's Law, Blue Streak, Blue Thunder, Boomtown, The Closer, Police Woman, T.J. Hooker, Colors, Crash, Columbo, Dark Blue, Die Hard, The Rookie, End of Watch, Gang Related, Gangster Squad, Heat, Hollywood Homicide, Hunter, Internal Affairs, Jackie Brown, L.A. Confidential, Lakeview Terrace, Law & Order: Los Angeles, Life, Major Crimes, Mob City, Mulholland Falls, Numb3rs, Reservoir Dogs, The Shield, Southland, Speed, Street Kings, NCIS: Los Angeles, SWAT, Training Day and the Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour Terminator film series and documentary-styled Hollywood film "End of Watch" which follows the LAPD more in depth.

The LAPD is also featured in the video games Midnight Club II, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, True Crime: Streets of LA, L.A. Noire, L.A. Rush and Call of Juarez: The Cartel, and parodied in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto V (Los Santos Police Department; Los Santos is a recreation of Los Angeles).

The LAPD has also been the subject of countless novels. Elizabeth Linington used the department as her backdrop in three different series written under three different names, perhaps the most popular being those novel featuring Detective Lieutenant Luis Mendoza, who was introduced in the Edgar-nominated Case Pending. Joseph Wambaugh, the son of a Pittsburgh policeman, spent fourteen years in the department, using his background to write novels with authentic fictional depictions of life in the LAPD. Wambaugh also created the Emmy-winning TV anthology series Police Story. Wambaugh was also a major influence on James Ellroy, who wrote several novels about the Department set during the 1940s and 1950s, the most famous of which are probably The Black Dahlia, which was made into a fim of the same name, fictionalizing the LAPD's most famous "cold case", and L.A. Confidential, which was made into a film of the same name. Both the novel and the film chronicled mass-murder and corruption inside and outside the force during the Parker era.

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External links[edit]