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Police of Los Angeles: all the fun about the third largest police department in the US

“To serve and protect” – you will find such an inscription on every patrol car of the department. This is the official motto of the Los Angeles police, approved in 1955.

The first article , on the general structure of the US police, appealed to many, so I decided to develop this topic further. This time it will be about the Los Angeles police, which you could see in many films, as well as in the famous GTA: San Andreas.

Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the United States of America. The rule of law in the city is provided by four structures: the port police, the airport police, the public security department and the police department, which will be discussed.


Organizational structure
Organizational structure

The Council of Police Commissioners acts as the head of the department, acting as a corporate board of directors. Defines the policy of the department and oversees its activities. The commissars work together with the chief of police, who acts as the chief administrative officer and will report to the council, consisting of five civilian employees.

The commissars are appointed by the mayor of the city and approved by the city council. You can not hold this position for more than two five-year terms. Council members spend 25-30 hours a week working as citizens’ voices in police matters. They reflect the interests of society, recommend reforms aimed at:

  • improving the service of the population of the department;
  • reduction of crime and fear of crime;
  • support of public order programs.

Board meetings are held weekly and follow a published agenda consisting of routine issues of interest to the department, as well as policy issues that may be of interest to the community

The current chief is Charlie Beck. Photo by LeonardFiles, flickr
The current chief is Charlie Beck. Photo by LeonardFiles, flickr

Chief of Police – the highest ranking officer of the department. Appointed mayor, subject to approval by the commissioners and the city council, and occupies a maximum of two five-year terms.

Responsible for planning, effective management and functioning of the department under the guidance of the Council of Police Commissars. The chief manages an annual budget of 1.189 billion dollars and commands 10,354 officers under his jurisdiction. Salary for the position of chief of police in Los Angeles in 2018 is 307,291 dollars.

At the moment, the police chief is Charlie Beck, who served in the department since 1977.

It can often be found on the city streets behind the wheel of a motorcycle department. The boss loves, in his free time from basic duties, to engage in patrol activities.

He is also the champion of the country for police and fire motocross. In his money box, a lot of medals from national, national and international competitions.

Two children of Charlie Beck are police officers in Los Angeles.

General structure

The department is divided into several offices, each of which covers a range of tasks. The offices are run by officers in the rank of Assistant Chief. An example of a general structure:

– Office (Office)

– Bureau (Bureau)

– Divisions / Area (Division, Coverage Area)

— Section / Platoon / Unit (Section, Platoon, Unit)

Office of Operations

In this office, all the patrol officers who work at one of the 21 police stations in Los Angeles are concentrated. The main task of the office is to control the order in the city.

The officers of the operations office are engaged in patrol activities, both on foot and on cars. Individual units use bicycles, quad bikes and small scooters to move around.

Office of Special Operations

Here are concentrated additional forces of the department, which need to be used in the fight against criminals. For example, with each pursuit, a helicopter rises into the air, which coordinates the officers from below and does not allow the perpetrator to leave the field of view of the officers.

Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau

The Office provides the Department with specialized tactical resources to support operations during day-to-day operations. The members of the Bureau provide assistance during serious unrest and an increased threat of terrorism. The bureau includes such divisions as: Air Support (aerial support) and Metropolitan (fight against crime), which includes, perhaps the most interesting – SWAT

Platoon D. Photo rarefruitfan, flickr
Platoon D. Photo rarefruitfan, flickr

Special Weapons and Tactics (Platoon D) – the elite division of the department, where the entrance is closed to ordinary officers. To get into this division, candidates must work in the department for at least 2 years, and also undergo all psychological and physical tests.

Division objectives:

  • processing of high-risk orders
  • handling of suicide-related challenges
  • conducting operations to rescue hostages
  • handling calls for barricaded criminals

As weapons, subway officers use CAR-15 and M4 assault rifles, Remington 870 shotguns, as well as lighter machine pistols.

Officers of Platoon D very often move on unmarked cars. Special equipment, which is demonstrated above, is used only for serious special operations.

The SWAT officer is disguised as a “heavy” uniform

Departure of the division to a high priority call
Detectives Department, photo LeonardFiles, flickr.
Detectives Department, photo LeonardFiles, flickr.
Detective Bureau

1600 detectives, which include 21 geographical detective teams, provide investigation of criminal and economic crimes and fight against criminal groups. The Bureau is divided into 7 divisions, of which the following can be noted:

  • Robbery-Homicide Division – responsible for investigating individual murders, bank robberies, serial robberies, extortion, sexual assault, human trafficking, kidnappings, incidents that lead to injury or death of an officer and threats to the officers;
  • Juvenile Division (Department of Juvenile Affairs) – is responsible for investigating situations of child abuse, exploitation and ensuring that minors comply with drug laws. The division also supervises the youth programs of the department and conducts consultations for children;
  • Gang and Narcotics Division (department for the fight against gangs and drugs) – conducts case files on criminal groups in Los Angeles. It is responsible for reducing the means by which gangs support their way of life. He is fighting against the production, transportation, sale and use of drugs and firearms. The division cooperates and is part of the working groups of FBI, DEA, US Marshals Service, ATF and other governmental organizations;
  • Detective Support and Vice Division – investigates cases of missing persons, hate crimes, threats against civil servants, cruelty to animals, pimping, pornography, prostitution and human trafficking.

Office of Administrative Services

The office is responsible for recruiting new employees, training and conducting trainings for the acting officers. A separate division keeps records of the personal files of officers, issues certificates and controls the turnover of the department’s money.

Officers of the department. Photos of sig meister, flickr
Officers of the department. Photos of sig meister, flickr


In the department there is a strict hierarchy of titles. Each title corresponds to a chevron or buttonhole. According to statistics, 90% of employees retire or end up in the rank of ordinary officer.

Promotion in the department is divided into two types: appointment to a higher level of pay and promotion.

The assignment does not change the class of titles. For example, promotion from Police Officer II to Police Officer III. Or with Detective I to Detective II.

Promotion is the same as the transition from one class of titles to another. For example, raising the officer to the rank of sergeant or detective.

Staff Officers are the management ranks of the department.

  1. Chief is the chief of the department. 4 stars;
  2. Assiastant Chief (Assistant Chief) is the commanding officer of the office. 3 stars;
  3. Deputy Chief (Deputy Chief) – the commanding officer of the bureau. 2 stars.
Lieutenant's little loins / Captain / Commander.
Lieutenant’s little loins / Captain / Commander.

Commanding Officers – commanding officers: Lieutenant, Captain, Commander (Lieutenant, Captain, Commander). Occupy the post of the leader of a unit or division. In the patrol division are responsible for the entire shift in the area under their control.

Chevrons of Sergeants I / II
Chevrons of Sergeants I / II

Sergeant Team – supervise the work of patrol officers, hold briefings before the start of the shift, take on the functions of the elder on the situations.

Chevrons of detectives. DI / II / III
Chevrons of detectives. DI / II / III

Detectives – investigate criminal offenses. There are three levels of this rank – I / II / III. The two highest ranks are governing. Detectives in this rank can assign themselves as sergeants.

Chevrons of officers. PO II / III / III + 1
Chevrons of officers. PO II / III / III + 1

Police Officers – ordinary patrol. The senior title in this category is Police Officer III + 1, the youngest is Police Officer I. Two more ranks are located between them.

After receiving the title of Police Officer II, the next two, three years, the employee goes on patrolling and the opportunity to receive a transfer to one of the specialized units (Metro, air support, etc.).

To be able to take the exam for a sergeant or detective, the officer must have a total length of service of at least 4 years.

Working conditions

Los Angeles police work three days a week for 12 hours or four for 10 hours. During the first 10 years of work, the department employee is entitled to thirteen days of paid leave every year and 15 days at his own expense.

The officer receives 12 days of 100%, five days of 75% and five days of 50% paid sick leave each year. The following year, the accumulated days do not burn out , but go to the “piggy bank”, which can be used later, for example, write an application for 100 days of sick leave with 100% payment .

With the salary of the case, this is the case:

62118 dollars – the base salary of a departmental employee upon admission to the police academy, is paid until the moment of its completion.

65,521 dollars – the salary of the police officer of the first classification on probation after the graduation from the academy.

70240 dollars – the salary of the police officer of the second classification, who does not have a college degree, military experience or previous experience in law enforcement agencies

72976 dollars is the salary of a second-ranking police officer who received a higher education (AA or higher) or has at least two years of military or previous experience in law enforcement.

Police Academy

To become a full-fledged police officer, a candidate must complete a police academy. The admission process is rather complicated and consists of 7 steps: an online application, an essay, a polygraph, the submission of physical norms, interviews with the officers of the department, medical and psychological examination, certification for the position.

If the candidate has successfully completed all the steps, he is considered enrolled in the academy. Training lasts 6 months and is fully paid.

After graduation, the student becomes a police officer and receives the title Police Officer I with a probation period of one year. Those who passed the probationary period receive an increase, and not those who have passed are sent for re-certification.

An alternative way to design the department is reserve officers . Members of the program are administrative officers of the police, initially working in public relations or in conjunction with detectives.

The Department is also actively developing the Cadet program , which teenagers from 13 to 20 years can take part in. This is the so-called “police academy for children”. Adolescents study legislative norms, visit various divisions of the department, work together with employees on the streets, improve their physical form. Training in this program lasts 15 days, classes are held every Saturday. Inside the Cadet program there is a division into police ranks (sergeants, captains, lieutenants, etc.)

Car park

Almost on all cars of the department on the rear bumper there are two stickers “there is no justification for domestic violence” and “watch the road operation”. Rear doors of patrol cars open only from the outside to reduce the risk of escape. Each patrol vehicle is equipped with flashing beacons in the form of a “chandelier” from above and additional ones that can be located on the body of the car.

Standard patrol cars – Ford Crown Victoria and Dodge Charger. Sergeants use patrol vehicles for off-road vehicles with media equipment inside the luggage compartment.

Chevrolet Suburban – used in the Bureau of Special Operations. The car shown on the image is equipped with side steps, on which the Metro officers are stationed while traveling. Photos of sig meister, flickr

In addition to standard patrol cars, the fleet of the department includes moto and bicycle equipment, SWAT cars, bomb robots, airplanes and helicopters.

In late 2015, the department took on testing electric vehicles Tesla and BMW.

Detectives and members of the Metro can move on unmarked cars (civilian coloring, without chandeliers from above). These cars merge with the city, which provides work under cover.

Photo by Chris Yarzab, flickr
Photo by Chris Yarzab, flickr

Armament and equipment

Each LAPD officer is armed with one of the pistols of the models Glock, Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Kimber Classic. In addition to military weapons, patrolmen use the Taser X24 in their work to neutralize the offender. In the police academy, there is a tradition – each student must withstand this charge .

The use of taser policemen

In the patrol car there is an non-flying shotgun and additional bulletproof vests. And after a shootout in Server Hollywood with two bank robbers, the Los Angeles police began to arm the M16, and the cars were reinforced with special inserts in the door.

The patrol uniform is the same for all officers – black trousers and a shirt. The only difference is the chevrons, which determine the rank of a policeman and belong to the division.

On the left side of the chest is an icon that confirms the rank of officer and his personnel number. On the right side of the chest is a die with the name of the officer.

On the sleeves, near the wrist, some officers can find marks that indicate the employee’s lifespan.

Chest Cameras

The US police very often have to justify their actions to the public. This issue is especially acute when the actions of officers lead to the death of the person being persecuted or suspected.

In 2013, the first 30 officers became participants in a pilot program for equipping patrol cameras attached to the form. And from 2014, the gradual purchase of cameras for all officers began.

In March 2015, police in Los Angeles shot and killed 43-year-old Charlie Kühnang who refused to get out of his tent, which is on South San Pedro Street. This incident was filmed on a mobile phone camera and received much publicity in the media.

The police department then published records from the officers’ chests to clarify what was happening. Some records show how Charlie reached for the pistol of one of the officers, after which he was killed by three members of the department. The actions of the officers were considered legitimate.

The murder of Charlie Kunung

Breast cameras are used not only by the LA police. Many US departments have also switched to the use of this equipment. On March 18, 2018, Sacramento police shot an unarmed man, taking the phone in his hand for a gun. The leadership of the Department published records from the officers’ breastplates to confirm the validity of their actions.

Interesting media files

Ceremony of the Cadets of the Police Academy. Traditional singing, flipping up caps and flying a LAPD helicopter.

Photos from the funeral of one of the officers of the department.
Street riots.


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