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May 5, 2008

Wikipedia: Los Angeles Police Department

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Los Angeles Police Department
Abbreviation LAPD
Seal of the Los Angeles Police Department
Motto “To protect and to serve”
Agency Overview
Formed 1869
Legal personality Governmental agency
Jurisdictional Structure
Divisional agency City of Los Angeles in the State of California , United States
Size 1,230 km²
Population 3.5 million
Governing body Los Angeles City Council
General nature
  • Local civilian agency
Operational Structure
Overviewed by Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners
Headquarters Parker Center
Sworn members 9,600
Unsworn members 3,000
Commissioners responsible
  • John Mack
  • Alan J. Skobin
  • Robert M. Saltzman
  • Andrea Ordin
  • Anthony Pacheco
Agency executive
  • William J. Bratton, Chief of Police
Police Boats 2
Helicopters 26
Planes 3



The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is the police department of the City of Los Angeles, California. With over 9,600 sworn officers and 3,000 non-sworn staff, covering an area of 473 square miles (1,230 km²) with a population of more than 3.5 million people, it is the fifth largest law enforcement agency in the United States (behind the New York City Police Department, Chicago Police Department, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation). The department has been heavily fictionalized in numerous movies and television shows. It has also been involved in a number of controversies, perhaps most notably the infamous Rodney King incident and the subsequent 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Resources, mobility and technology

Main articles: Los Angeles Police Department resources and Los Angeles Police Department#External links
An LAPD Bell 206 JetRanger

An LAPD Bell 206 JetRanger

The LAPD has vast resources, including the third largest civilian air force in the country. Only the Civil Air Patrol and Office of CBP Air & Marine, commands a larger force . The Los Angeles Police Air Support Division resources include 17 helicopters ranging from 4 Bell 206 Jet Rangers to 12 Eurocopter AS350-B2 AStars, and 1 Bell UH-1 Huey (No longer in service, due to maintenance issues). LAPD also has 1 Beechcraft Kingair A200 and 1 unspecified and undenied drone.

Main Airship missions are flown out of downtown’s Piper Tech center at the Hooper Heliport, located outside of Union Station.The LAPD also houses air units at Van Nuys airport.

At one time the LAPD also had a military submarine.(According to the LA Police Historical Society)[citation needed]

Both and Chief William Bratton find a need to constantly compare LAPD to NYPD. In the matter of Aviation resources, the comparison is harder than one might think. NYPD only has 7 air units, meanwhile LAPD staffs the largest police air support unit in the world. NYPD does alot of MedEvacs and Water rescues, LAPD doesn’t because that is done by LAFD and paramedic resources, although LAPD air support does assist with the LAPD Dive Team. NYPD does not staff pilots and observers like LAPD does. LAPD has a very large number of Pilots and Tactical Flight Officers or observers to have very precise and swift shift rotations of the AIRSHIPS or air units. LAPD at all times has an average of 3 airborne air units with additionals on stand by at Piper Tech, the main heliport for LAPD or in some cases Van Nuys airport. For 20 years LAPD has maintained an average response time of 30 seconds to 1 minute 30 seconds to arrive over the location of a call or active scene which could be anything from a perimeter of a robbery/burglary to accidents, shots fired calls, pursuits and other calls of service. The NYPD however does not staff air units and flight crews to always be up in the air or even ready for patrol based assistance missions. Suprisingly, given the amount of people, land and crime, the two cities could be alot more comparable and could be on the same page as far as air patrols in the way of assisting ground units, however NYPD puts most of their efforts into having their Aviation Unit ready for rescue scenarios more often than patrol types. This is what causes the statistic of 7 minutes to 10 minutes response time from NYPD. LAPD Air Support Division deals with alot of “Hot Crimes”, car chases, perimeter searches and other High Incident calls,which is why every second of every day, they are ready to “come in on” any call and “come over” any scene when needed. Very often, and on a daily basis LAPD AIRSHIPS are called to fly over a location long before ground units who may be back logged with multiple calls pending and who can’t respond in on. The AIRSHIPS will relay information based on their visuals and patrol officer experience as to the nature of what they see, that will determine how the call would actually be handled by a ground unit. Will the call that came out as a code 2 be upgraded to a code 3, which is going from medium response to highest priority, or maybe the call will be cancelled all together or possibly down graded to code 1, a very layed back response by ground units giving them time to finish previous asignments and that tells them that they can definately take their time.

Work Environment

The LAPD has a 3 day-12 hour and 4 day-10 hour work week schedule. They have over 250 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 suburban departments surrounding Los Angeles, in which many departments deploy officers in one-officer units. Other departments use single officer patrol cars to maximize police presence, allowing a smaller amount of officers to patrol a larger area, while LAPD prefers to err on the side of caution.

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).

Pay and benefits, however, are a plus to new Los Angeles Police officers. As of Spring 2007, new recruits could earn money through sign on bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. Sign on bonuses are paid 1/2 after graduation from the academy, and 1/2 after completion of probation. Also $2,000 could be added for out of town sign ons for housing arrangements.


The Los Angeles Police Department has long suffered from chronic underfunding and under-staffing. In contrast to most large cities in the United States, Los Angeles has historically had one of the lowest ratios of police personnel to population served. The present Department Chief, William J. Bratton, has 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.”). The LAPD’s own web site illustrates the challenges faced by the department [1]. As a point of comparison, New York City boasts one NYPD officer for every 228 residents. Resulting disadvantages of such a large police force is that advancement within the NYPD is difficult and salary and benefits are limited. As of the Spring of 2008, the LAPD was offering as much as $54,475-58,881 to new recruits. The NYPD offers new recruits substantially lower salaries compared to the LAPD, usually ranging from $30,000-$40,000. 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. By contrast, the Los Angeles Police Department protects its city with only one officer for every 426 residents. For Los Angeles to have the same ratio of officers as New York City, the LAPD would need to add nearly 17,000 officers. As of the spring of 2007, the Department is in the middle of a massive recruiting effort, looking to hire an additional 1,500 police officers. They’ve used a high starting salary ($50,000+) as an incentive. One problem with such a drive is the lack of qualified candidates. Stringent hiring practices instituted by top LAPD brass (following several accusations of corrupt police officers) has led to fewer than 1 in 10 initial applicants actually being hired. Also, the city has four specialized police agencies which are not affiliated with the LAPD, Port of Los Angeles, or Harbor Dept. Police, Los Angeles World Airports Police, and Dept. of General Services Office of Public Safety Police, which police city owned properties, parks, zoo, libraries, and convention center, and the Los Angeles School Police Department.

Force composition

During the Parker-Davis-Gates period, the LAPD was overwhelmingly white, and much of it lived outside of the city. In 1980, only 20% of the force was minority officers.[citation needed] 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. A 1994 ACLU study of officer’s home zip codes, concluded that over 80% of police officers lived outside city boundaries.[1]

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 precincts, and the LAPD is starting to reflect the general population. As of 2002, 13.5% of the LAPD was black, 34.2% was Latino, and 6.9% was Asian or Pacific Islander.[citation needed] In February 2008, the number of Hispanic police officers surpassed the number of white officers.[citation needed]

The LAPD hired the first female police officer in the United States in 1910, Ms Alice Stebbins Wells.[2] Since then, women have been a small, but growing part of the force. Up through the early 1970s, women were classified as “policewomen” on the LAPD. Through the 1950s, their duties generally consisted as working as matrons in the jail system, or dealing with troubled youths working in detective assignments. Rarely did they work any type of field assignment and they were not allowed to promote above the rank of sergeant. However, a lawsuit (Fanchon Blake) by a policewoman from that period instituted court ordered mandates that the Department begin actively hiring and promoting women police officers in its ranks. The Department eliminated the rank of “Policeman” from new hires at that time along with the rank of “Policewoman.” Anyone already in those positions were grandfathered in, but any new hires were classified instead as “Police Officers”, which continues to this day.

In 2002, women made up 18.9% of the force. Women have made significant strides within the ranks of the Department since the days of the Fanchon Blake lawsuit. The highest ranking woman on the Department today is Assistant Chief Sharon Papa, who came to the LAPD as a commander from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Transit Police Department in 1997. Chief Papa was the last Chief of Police for the MTA.[citation needed]

The LAPD also hired the first known black police officer in America.[citation needed]

According to the US Department of Justice, the LAPD was 82 percent male in 2000. Forty-six percent of the department was white, 33 percent was hispanic, 14 percent were African-American, and seven percent were Asian.[3]


Parker Center - LAPD's Headquarters

Parker Center – LAPD’s Headquarters

An LAPD badge

An LAPD badge

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners is a five-member body of appointed officials which oversees the LAPD.[4] The board functions like a corporate board of directors and is responsible for setting policies for the department and overseeing its operations. The chief of police reports to the board, and the rest of the department reports to the chief. The headquarters for the LAPD is the Parker Center. A new headquarters building is currently being constructed.

Office of Operations

The bulk of the uniformed officers are located within the office of operations. An assistant chief heads the office, and reports directly to the chief of police. The LAPD is comprised of 19 patrol “Areas” within the department. These areas are grouped together in four “Bureaus.” By the end of 2008, two additional areas will be added known as “Olympic” and “Northwest.” Also within the office of operations are the special operations and the detective bureaus.


The computer statistics unit (COMPSTAT), reports directly to the assistant chief of operations. The COMPSTAT unit maintains statistical data and convenes weekly meetings with the chief of police to review the data. The following table gives links to the most recent crime statistics for each bureau and patrol area.

Central Bureau South Bureau Valley Bureau West Bureau
Central Area 77th Street Area Devonshire Area Hollywood Area
Hollenbeck Area Harbor Area Foothill Area Pacific Area
Newton Area Southeast Area Mission Area West Los Angeles Area
Northeast Area Southwest Area North Hollywood Area Wilshire Area
Rampart Area Van Nuys Area
West Valley Area

Special Operations Bureau

This bureau, headed by a deputy chief, contains the air support division, metropolitan division, and the special operations support division.

Detective Bureau

The detective bureau contains many divisions, and is responsible for investigating reported crimes.

  • Vice Division
  • Narcotics Division
  • Juvenile Division
  • Commercial Crimes Division
  • Detective Support Division
  • Robbery-Homicide Division
  • Force Investigation Division
  • Investigative Analysis Unit

Central Bureau

Central Facilities Building

Central Facilities Building

The Hollenbeck Area (#4) community police station serves the easternmost portions of the city of Los Angeles, including the communities of Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, and El Sereno.[5] Its station house is at 2111 East 1st Street in Boyle Heights. The station will be replaced by a modern police station, compared to the current police station is a 1950s style station, in which during that time police stations were not open to the general public.

  • Central Area (#1)[6]
  • Newton Area (#13)[7]
  • Northeast Area (#11)[8]
  • Rampart Area (#2)[9]

South Bureau

  • 77th Street Area (#12)[10]
  • Harbor Area (#5)[11]
  • Southeast Area (#18)[12]
  • Southwest Area (#3)[13]

Valley Bureau

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 Areas in the San Fernando Valley.[14]

  • Devonshire Area (#17)[15]
  • Foothill Area (#16)[16]
  • North Hollywood Area (#15)[17]
  • Van Nuys (#9)[18]
  • West Valley Area (#10)[19]

The Northwest Area (#21) community police station is currently under construction and is due to be operational by October 2008.[20]

West Bureau

The Hollywood Area (#6) community police station serves the Hollywood area of Los Angeles.[21]

The Wilshire Area (#7) community police station serves the Mid-Wilshire area, covering a wildly diverse range of communities such as Koreatown, Mid-City, Carthay, and the Fairfax District. The station house is at 4861 West Venice Boulevard in Mid-City.[22]

The Pacific Area (#14) community police station serves the southern portion of the West Side.[23] This division is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the 405 to the east, Venice Boulevard to the north and Imperial Highway to the south. Communities under its protection include Palms, Mar Vista, Venice, Del Rey, Westchester, and Playa del Rey. The station house is at 12312 Culver Boulevard on the border between Mar Vista and Del Rey. Some officers in this area are assigned to the LAX field services division.

The West Los Angeles Area (#8) community police station serves the northern portion of the West Side.[24] Communities within its service area include Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Westwood, West Los Angeles, Rancho Park, Beverlywood, and Cheviot Hills. The station house is at 1663 Butler Avenue in West Los Angeles.

The Mid-City (Olympic) Area (#20) community police station is currently under construction and is due to be operational by November 2008.[25]

Organizational Notes

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.


Main article: History of the Los Angeles Police Department

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. 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”.

LAPD also had the first SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team in America. Officer John Nelson and inspector Daryl Gates created the program in 1965 to deal with threats from organized factions such as the Black Panther Party and other radical groups operating during that time. LAPD’s SWAT team is considered by many in the business to be the premier unit of its kind.[citation needed]

Riots of 1992

Main article: Los Angeles riots of 1992

The riots of 1992 began after four LAPD officers were acquitted of charges that they used excessive force when arresting Rodney King. Following the riots, the Christopher Commission was formed in July 1991. The attorney Warren Christopher investigated the LAPD’s hiring practices, as well as their handling of excessive force complaints.

Rampart scandal

Main article: Rampart scandal

Following the Rampart scandal of the late 1990s, the United States Department of Justice entered into a consent decree with the LAPD regarding numerous civil rights violations.[26] 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 Rampart scandal mainly surrounded the unethical actions of the LAPD’s gang unit, Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH).

Other controversies

Other controversies include detective Mark Fuhrman’s role in the Nicole Simpson/Ron Goldman murder investigation (1994), the arrest of Stanley Miller (2004), the Javier Ovando scandal, and the LAPD’s reaction to illegal immigrant rallies (2007). In 1962, the LAPD shooting of 7 unarmed members of the Nation of Islam resulted in the death of Ronald Stokes.[citation needed] In 1972, Elmer Pratt was framed by the LAPD and FBI, and his conviction was overturned on appeal on February 18, 1999.[27]

Rank structure and insignia

Rank insignia for Lieutenant I through Chief is worn on the collars of the shirt and the shoulders of the jacket. Rank insignia for Police Officers/Detectives and Sergeant I and II is worn on the upper sleeves.

Tenured officers will have silver-gray hash-marks on the lower left side of their long-sleeved shirts. Each mark represents five years of service.

Title Insignia
Assistant Chief – Deputy Chief II
Deputy Chief – Deputy Chief I
Captain I/Captain II/Captain III
Lieutenant I/Lieutenant II
Detective III
Sergeant II
Detective II
Sergeant I
Detective I
Police Officer III+1/Senior Lead Officer
Police Officer III
Police Officer II
Police Officer I

Chiefs of Police

Further information: List of Los Angeles Police Department Chiefs of Police

Fallen Officers

Main article: List of Los Angeles Police Department officers killed in the line of duty

Since the establishment of the Los Angeles Police Department, 199 officers have died in the line of duty. [28]

The LAPD in popular media

The LAPD is well-represented in popular media. Several prominent representations include Adam-12, Dragnet, Crash, the Lethal Weapon series, and the The Shield series. The television series LAPD: Life On the Beat provided a more accurate depiction of the LAPD.

The independently iconic television series Dragnet, with LAPD Detective Joe Friday as the primary character, was the first major media representation of the department. 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.

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.” In the 1960s, when the LAPD under Chief Thomas Reddin expanded its community relations division and began efforts to reach out to the black community, Dragnet followed suit with more emphasis on internal affairs and community policing than solving crimes, the show’s previous mainstay.[29]

It has also been the subject of several novels, probably the most famous of which is L.A. Confidential, a novel by James Ellroy that was made into a film of the same name. Both chronicled mass-murder and corruption inside and outside the force. Critic Roger Ebert indicates that the film’s characters (from the 1950s) “represent the choices ahead for the LAPD”: assisting Hollywood limelight, aggressive policing with relaxed ethics, and a “straight arrow” approach.[30]

L.A. Confidential is part of a modern trend of more negative portrayals of the department that started with the Rodney King beating and subsequent riots. There was, however, much tension in LA prior to the riots, as evidenced by songs such as Fuck Tha Police by N.W.A. The Closer is a contemporary example of a neutral portrayal which has been missing in recent media coverage of the LAPD.

See also

California Portal
Law enforcement/Law enforcement topics Portal
  • Los Angeles General Services Police
  • Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department


  1. ^ Newton, Jim. “ACLU Says 83% of Police Live Outside L.A.” Los Angeles Times 29 March 1994: B1.
  2. ^ Women in LAPD. Retrieved on 2007-09-21.
  3. ^ Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, 2000: Data for Individual State and Local Agencies with 100 or More Officers. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  4. ^ Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  5. ^ Hollenbeck Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  6. ^ Central Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  7. ^ Newton Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  8. ^ Northeast Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  9. ^ Rampart Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  10. ^ 77th Street Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  11. ^ Harbor Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  12. ^ Southeast Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  13. ^ Southwest Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  14. ^ Mission Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  15. ^ Devonshire Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  16. ^ Foothill Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  17. ^ North Hollywood Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  18. ^ Van Nuys Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  19. ^ West Valley Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  20. ^ Press release regarding the new LAPD stations. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  21. ^ Hollywood Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  22. ^ Wilshire Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  23. ^ Pacific Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  24. ^ West Los Angeles Community Police Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  25. ^ Press release regarding the new LAPD stations. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  26. ^ Consent Decree Overview: Civil Rights Consent Decree. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  27. ^ Framed Black Panther leader Geronimo Pratt wins appeal. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  28. ^ The Officer Down Memorial Page. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  29. ^ * Michael J. Hayde, My Name’s Friday: The Unauthorized but True Story of Dragnet and the Films of Jack Webb, Cumberland House, 2001, ISBN 1-581-82190-5, quote at p. 192.
  30. ^ Roger Ebert, L.A. Confidential (review), Chicago Sun-Times, September 19, 1997.
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