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The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is the police department of the city of Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker. With just over 10,000 officers and more than 3,000 civilian staff, covering an area of with a population of more than 3.8 million people, it is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the United Statesmarker.

The LAPD has been heavily fictionalized in numerous movies and television shows throughout its history. The department has also been involved in a number of controversies, mostly involving racial animosity and police corruption.


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". The first paid force was created in 1869, when six officers were hired to serve under City Marshal William C. Warren. 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.

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

Horrall was replaced by a retired Marine 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.

Under Parker, LAPD also formed the first SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team in United States law enforcement 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.

Fallen officers

Since the establishment of the Los Angeles Police Department, 200 officers have died in the line of duty. The Los Angeles Police Memorial is a monument outside Parker Center, the LAPD's old headquarters, and was unveiled on October 1, 1971. 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.

The cause of deaths are as follows:

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


New LAPD Police Administration Building nearing completion (April 2009)
The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners is a five-member body of appointed officials which oversees the LAPD. 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. 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.

Office of Operations

The majority of the LAPD's 10,000 officers are assigned within the Office of Operations, whose primary office is located in the new Police Administration Building. An Assistant Chief commands the office, and reports directly to the Chief of Police. The LAPD comprises 21 stations, known officially as "Areas" but also commonly referred to as "Divisions." The 21 stations are then grouped geographically into four command areas, each known as a "Bureau." There are two additional bureaus, the Detective Bureau and the Special Operations Bureau. The latest areas, "Olympic" and "Topanga," were added on January 4, 2009, bringing the total to 21 stations.

Detective Bureau

The Detective Bureau, which now reports directly to the Chief of Police, is responsible for investigating crimes. It consists of:
  • Investigative Analysis Section
  • Scientific Investigation Division
  • Robbery-Homicide Division
  • Commercial Crimes Division
  • Detective Support and Vice Division
  • Juvenile Division
  • Gang and Narcotics Division
  • Real-time Analysis and Critical Response Division


The computer statistics unit (COMPSTAT), reports directly to the Chief of Detectives. The COMPSTAT unit maintains statistical crime data and hold weekly meetings, now in a specially designated Compstat Room within the new Police Administration Building, with the Chief of Police accompanied by Assistant Chiefs, Deputy Chiefs, Commanders and Captains to review the data. COMPSTAT is the LAPD's version of the NYPD CompStat unit, which was originally developed in 1994 by former LAPD Chief William Bratton, while he was still the NYPD Police Commissioner. When Bratton became chief of the LAPD in 2002, he immediately implemented the COMPSTAT system in the LAPD.

Special Operations Bureau

The 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.

Structure of the Special Operations Bureau

  • Air Support Division
  • Emergency Operations Division
  • Metropolitan Division
    • (2) Crime Suppression Platoons (B and C Platoon)
    • Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) - (D Platoon)
    • Mounted Unit
    • K-9 Unit
    • Administrative Unit (A Platoon)

Operations - Central Bureau

Central Facilities Building
The Central Bureau is responsible for downtown Los Angelesmarker and East Los Angeles, and is the most densely populated of the four patrol bureaus. 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.

Central Division
The Central Area (#1) station serves the vast majority of downtown Los Angelesmarker, including Los Angeles City Hallmarker, the Los Angeles Convention Centermarker, the Staples Centermarker, the Fashion District, and the Financial District.

Hollenbeck Division
The Hollenbeck Area (#4) community police station serves the easternmost portions of the city of Los Angelesmarker, including the communities of Boyle Heightsmarker, Lincoln Heights, and El Serenomarker.

Newton Division
The Newton Area (#13) serves South Los Angeles, as well as portions of downtown Los Angelesmarker, including part of the Fashion District.

Northeast Division
The Northeast Area (#11) is responsible for parts of central Los Angeles including Elysian Parkmarker (Dodger Stadiummarker) and Silver Lakemarker, along with the easternmost parts of Los Felizmarker and Hollywoodmarker, as well as the northeast Los Angeles communities of Highland Park, Eagle Rock, and Glassell Park.

Rampart Division
The New Rampart Police Station

The Rampart Area (#2) serves regions to the west and northwest of Downtown Los Angelesmarker including Echo Parkmarker, Pico-Union and Westlake, all together designated as the Rampart Division's patrol area. It was the Rampart Division building, which was newly constructed at the time, that served as the home station in the Jack Webb created police drama Adam-12, although the show used the number designation (1), for Central Division.

Operations - South Bureau

The South Bureau oversees South Los Angelesmarker with the exception of Inglewoodmarker and Comptonmarker, 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). The South Bureau consists of four patrol divisions and a traffic division, which handles traffic-related duties such as accident investigation and the issuing of citations/tickets.

77th Street Division
The 77th Street Area (#12) serves a portion of South Los Angelesmarker, 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 Angelesmarker that borders Florence, Central and Manchester Avenues to the Harbor Freeway is also part of this division.

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

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

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 Citymarker/Lennoxmarker/Baldwin Hillsmarker area. This section also includes the University of Southern Californiamarker and Exposition Park.

Operations - Valley Bureau

The Valley Bureau is the largest of the four patrol bureaus in terms of size (about 221 square miles), and oversees operations within the San Fernando Valleymarker. 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.

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 Valleymarker, including Mission Hillsmarker and Panorama Citymarker.

Devonshire Division
The Devonshire Area (#17) is responsible for the northwestern parts of the San Fernando Valleymarker, including parts of Chatsworth and Northridgemarker

Foothill Division
The Foothill Area (#16) patrols parts of the San Fernando Valleymarker (including Sylmarmarker and Sun Valley) and the Crescenta Valley (including Sunland-Tujungamarker).

North Hollywood Division
The North Hollywood Area (#15) is responsible for Studio Citymarker and the North Hollywood region.

Van Nuys Division
The Van Nuys Area (#9) serves the area of Van Nuys, Californiamarker.

West Valley Division
The West Valley Area (#10) is responsible for parts of the San Fernando Valleymarker, including parts of Northridge and Resedamarker, where it is based.

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

Operations - West Bureau

The West Bureau's operations cover most of the well-known areas of Los Angeles, including Hollywoodmarker, the Hollywood Hillsmarker area, the UCLAmarker campus and Venicemarker. This does not include Beverly Hillsmarker and Santa Monicamarker, 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/tickets.

Hollywood Division
The Hollywood Area (#6) community police station serves the Hollywoodmarker region, including the Hollywood Hillsmarker, Hollywood Boulevardmarker and the Sunset Strip.

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.

Pacific Division
The Pacific Area (#14) community police station serves the southern portion of West Los Angeles, including Venice Beachmarker, Venicemarker and Playa del Reymarker. Some officers assigned to the Pacific Division are commonly assigned to work with the Los Angeles Airport Police at the Los Angeles International Airportmarker. 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. Communities within its service area include Pacific Palisadesmarker, Century Citymarker, Brentwoodmarker, Westwoodmarker, West Los Angelesmarker and Cheviot Hills. UCLAmarker and Twentieth Century Fox are both located here.

Olympic Division
One of the LAPD's newest stations, Olympic Station
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. It provides services to a 6.2-square-mile area of the Mid-City region, including Koreatown and a section of the Miracle Mile, with a population of 200,000. The 54,000-square-foot station is located at the southeast corner of Vermont Avenue and Eleventh Street and houses 293 officers. The construction cost was $34 million.


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

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.

Rank structure and insignia

Rank insignia for Lieutenant I and up are metal pins worn on the collars of the shirt and the shoulders of the jacket. Rank insignia for Sergeant II and below are embroidered chevrons 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
Chief of Police
Assistant Chief / Deputy Chief II
Deputy Chief I
Captain I / Captain II / Captain III
Lieutenant I / Lieutenant II
Sergeant II
Sergeant I
Detective III
Detective II
Detective I
Police Officer III+1 / Senior Lead Officer
Police Officer III
Police Officer I / Police Officer II

Chiefs of Police

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.



The Los Angeles Police Department has suffered from chronic underfunding and under-staffing recently.. Compared to most other large cities in the United States, Los Angeles has historically had one of the lowest ratios of police personnel to population served. Chief of Police 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 Los Angeles Police Department protects its city with only one officer for every 426 residents. As a point of comparison, New York Citymarker boasts one NYPD officer for every 228 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. 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.

In recent years, the department had been conducting a massive recruiting effort, with a goal of hiring an additional 1,500 police officers. One problem with such a drive is the lack of qualified candidates. Stringent hiring practices instituted by the department (following several accusations of corruption, including the Rampart scandal) has led to fewer than 1 in 10 initial applicants actually being hired. Also, the city has four specialized agencies, not directly affiliated with the LAPD, which serve the Port, the Airport, the City Hall, Library, and Zoo, and the Unified School District.

In 2009, due to economic hardships, the LAPD is no longer pursuing its large scale hiring effots. Instead, the department is hiring new officers only to replace officers lost due to retirement, injuries, etc.

Racial and gender composition

During the Parker-Davis-Gates period, the LAPD was overwhelmingly white (80% in 1980), and many officers resided outside of the city. Simi Valleymarker, the Ventura Countymarker 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 officers' home zip codes, concluded that over 80% of police officers lived outside city boundaries.

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, Ms Alice Stebbins Wells. 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. 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 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. The department eliminated the rank of "Policeman" from new hires at that time along with the rank of "Policewoman." Anyone already in those positions was grandfathered in, but 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 in 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 from the MTA, and is now in charge of the Office of Support Services.

The LAPD was the first police department in the United States to hire black officers. In 1886, the department hired its first two black officers, Robert William Stewart and Roy Green.

According to the US Department of Justice, the LAPD was 82% male in 2000. 46% of the department was white, 33% of the department was Hispanic/Latino, 14% was African American, and 7% was Asian.

Work environment

LAPD patrol officers have a three-day 12-hour and 4 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).

Pay and benefits, however, are a plus to new LAPD officers, who are among some of the highest-paid police officers in the country. 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. 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.




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 command 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). The 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 Stationmarker. The LAPD also houses air units at Van Nuys airport.


Three vehicles are approved for use within the Los Angeles Police Department; they are the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, the Dodge Charger, and the Chevrolet Tahoe. The department is also testing the Chevrolet Impala in their fleet.

Service weapons

Before 1988, LAPD officers were armed with the Smith & Wesson Model 15, also known as the .38 "Combat Masterpiece". This was specifically designed at the request of the Los Angeles Police Department. It was a Smith and Wesson Military and Police .38 Caliber revolver with non-snag, high profile adjustable sights or the Model 36 "Chief's Special". In the car, locked to a steel bar, was an Ithaca Model 37, 12-gauge shotgun, loaded with "00" (double aught) buckshot, nine pellets to the cartridge. 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 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 used. In response to increasing firepower carried by criminals, including fully automatic weapons and assault rifles, LAPD patrol officers were issued Beretta 92FS. 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 response to the North Hollywood shootoutmarker of 1997, LAPD officers had the option of carrying the Smith & Wesson Model 4506 and 4566 service pistols. Chambered in .45 ACP, these firearms provided the officer with more stopping power than the standard-issue 9mm cartridge. Until 2002, LAPD officers standard issue pistol was the Beretta 92F. 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 but can qualify in a variety of firearms. 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.


9mm: Model 34 (magazine capacity 17), Model 17 (magazine capacity 17), Model 19 (magazine capacity 15)

.40 caliber: Model 35 (magazine capacity 15), Model 22 (magazine capacity 15), Model 23 (magazine capacity 13)

.45 caliber: Model 21 (magazine capacity 13)

The LAPD SWAT team decided to go with the Kimber Custom TLE II in 2002, renaming it the Kimber LAPD SWAT Custom II. Before that, LAPD SWAT carried modified Springfield or Colt M1911 pistols. 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. They used United States Air Force model M16s in the '60s and '70s. In the '80s and early '90s they carried Colt RO727s and RO733s. In 2000 they imported the M4A1s. Now SWAT carry M4A1s and converted M16A2s. LAPD SWAT uses two shotguns, the Remington 870 (mostly for non-combat usages) and the Benelli M1 Super 90 Entry (for combat). The LAPD recently announced that their new shotgun would be the Benelli M4 Super 90.

In addition, the Remington 870 or Ithaca 37 12-gauge shotguns are carried in most patrol vehicles and qualified personnel may carry the Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in .223 Remington which are military surplus rifles, introduced after the 1997 North Hollywood shootout.

LAPD awards, commendations, citations and medals

The department presents a number of medals to its members for meritorious service. 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.

  • Liberty Award:
The Liberty Award, an award for bravery, was created in 1990 and has only been awarded once in the Department's history. It is a medal for police canines who are killed or seriously injured in the line of duty. The award is named after Liberty, a Metropolitan Division K-9 who was shot and killed in the line of duty. Liberty's handler received the Medal of Valor for the same incident.

  • Police Medal for Heroism:
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.

  • Police Star:
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 diffuse dangerous and stressful situations.

  • Police Life-Saving Medal:
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.


  • Police Distinguished Service Medal

  • Police Meritorious Service Medal

  • Police Meritorious Achievement Medal

  • Police Commission Distinguished Service Medal

  • Community Policing Medal

  • Human Relations Medal

Unit Citations

  • Police Commission Unit Citation

  • Police Meritorious Unit Citation


  • 1984 Summer Olympics Ribbon:
Given to any LAPD officer who saw service during the 1984 Summer Olympics from July 28 to August 12, 1984.

  • 1987 Papal Visit Ribbon:
Given to LAPD officers who were used during the September 1987 pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II.

  • 1992 Civil Disturbance Ribbon:
Given to any LAPD officer who saw service during the 1992 Los Angeles riots from April 29 to May 4, 1992.

  • 1994 Earthquake Ribbon:
Given to any LAPD officer who saw service during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake from January 17 to January 18, 1994.

  • Reserve Service Ribbon:
Awarded for 4000 hours of service as a Reserve Police officer.


Riots of 1992

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 black motorist Rodney King following a high-speed pursuit on March 3, 1991. Immediately following the King incident, the Christopher Commission was formed in July 1991. The commission, chaired by attorney Warren Christopher (who later became U.S. Secretary of State), investigated the LAPD's hiring practices, as well as their handling of excessive force complaints. 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.

Rampart scandal and consent decree

Following the Rampart Division C.R.A.S.H. scandal of the late 1990s - early 2000s, the United States Department of Justicemarker entered into a consent decree with the LAPD regarding numerous civil rights violations. 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. 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 an officer. But the officer 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

The DOJ-LAPD Consent Decree places emphasis on the following nine major areas:

  • Management and supervisory measures to promote Civil Rights Integrity
  • Critical incident procedures, documentation, investigation and review
  • Management of Gang Units
  • Management of Confidential Informants
  • Program development for response to persons with mental illness
  • Training
  • Integrity Audits
  • Operations of the Police Commission and Inspector General
  • Community outreach and public information

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:

  • Development of a Risk Management System
  • Creation of a new division to investigate all Uses of Force formerly investigated by Robbery Homicide Division and Detective Headquarters Division
  • Creation of a new division to conduct audits Department-wide
  • Creation of a Field Data Capture System to track the race, ethnicity or national origin of the motorists and pedestrians stopped by the Department
  • Creation of an Ethics Enforcement Section within the Internal Affairs Group
  • Transfer of investigative authority to IAG of all serious personnel complaint investigations
  • A nationwide study by an independent consultant of law enforcement agencies’ protocols for dealing with the mentally ill. The study will serve as the Department’s foundation for refining its own system.
  • A study by an independent consultant of the Department’s training programs
  • Creation of an informant manual and database

There are several stakeholders in the LAPD Consent Decree compliance process. At the Federal level, stakeholders include:

As the Consent Decree is a binding agreement between the City and the DOJ, the following City entities are key stakeholders:

  • Office of the Mayor
  • City Council
  • Office of the City Attorney
  • Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst
  • Office of Administrative and Research Services
  • The Los Angeles Police Department, including the Board of Police Commissioners and the Inspector General

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.

Other controversies

Other controversies include former detective Mark Fuhrman's role in the Nicole Simpson/Ron Goldman murder investigation (1994),, 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) and served 2 1/2 years of a 23 year sentence before being exonerated),, 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).

In 1962, the controversial LAPD shooting of 7 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. 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. In 1988, African-American baseball sportscaster and retired Baseball Hall of Famemarker player Joe Morgan was detained at Los Angeles International Airportmarker by LAPD and L.A. Airport Police officers after falsely being identified as a drug dealer. 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.

The widely-publicized case of Christine and Walter Collins was depicted in the 2008 film "Changeling" starring Angelina Jolie. 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. Section 12 commitments were frequently used by the police department to silence anyone they found to be an embarrassment or inconvenience to the department. 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.

The LAPD in popular media

Several prominent representations of the LAPD and its officers include Adam-12, Dragnet, Southland , Crash, Colors, The Terminator, Blue Thunder, Dirty, Heat, Cellular, Die Hard, The Shield, Training Day, Internal Affairs, Street Kings, Unlawful Entry, Dark Blue, Lakeview Terrace and the Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour film 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.

One of the most popular and ionic detective television series, Columbo , portrays a extremely intelligent, but somewhat of an unorthodox LAPD homicide detective named Lieutenant Columbo, played by Peter Falk.

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 during the Parker era. 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. A Native-American LAPD detective is also featured in the novel Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult.

The LAPD are also portrayed in video games, with the 2003 video game, Midnight Club II, and with the 2008 video game, Midnight Club: Los Angeles.

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. Examples of this include Changeling, a 2008 film that depicts LAPD corruption in the late 1920s. There was, however, much tension in Los Angeles prior to the riots, as evidenced by songs such as Fuck Tha Police by rap group N.W.A. The Closer and Southland are contemporary examples of neutral portrayals which have been missing in recent media coverage of the LAPD.

LAPD SWAT has also been popularized in the media, most notably in the television series S.W.A.T. and the 2003 film by the same name.

See also



  • Bentley, Brian (1997). One Time: The Story of a South Central Los Angeles Police Officer. Los Angeles:Cool Jack Publishing. ISBN 1-890632-00-7.
  • Corwin, Miles (1997). The Killing Season . New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80235-X.
  • Corwin, Miles (2003). Homicide Special: A Year With the LAPD's Elite Detective Unit. New York: Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 0-8050-6798-1.
  • Domanick, Joe (1994). To Protect and to Serve: The LAPD's Century of War in the City of Dreams. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-9727625-5-8.
  • Gates, Daryl F. (1992). Chief: My Life in the LAPD. New York: Bantam. ISBN 0-553-56205-3.
  • Sjoquist, Art R. (1984). History of the Los Angeles Police Department. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club.
  • Starr, Kevin (2004). Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2003. New York: Knopf.
  • Stoker, Charles (1951). Thicker'n Thieves. Sutter.
  • Wambaugh, Joseph (1973). The Onion Field. Delacorte.
  • Webb, Jack (1958). The Badge: The Inside Story of One of America's Great Police Departments. New York: Prentice-Hall.

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