Police Memorial Month
In November 2009, the Los Angeles Police Department opened to the public, our new Police Administration Building (PAB). At the time, its “L” shape was described as arms wrapping around all who visit and comforting those who come to remember the men and women of the LAPD that we have lost. Without a doubt PAB is a new landmark for Downtown and the City of Los Angeles. It communicates to us a symbolic gateway to the future. It is not possible however, to look to the future without remembering our past.
We have lasting gratitude for the men and women of the LAPD who took an oath to protect and to serve, and fulfilled this oath with their lives. We have a beautiful, permanent memorial sculpture and garden area. Located next to the main entrance, in glass cases, are replica badges for each of these fallen officers. These are the badges that the LAPD officers proudly wore when they made the ultimate sacrifice. These men and women were all bound by a common spirit – to protect and serve without any hesitation for their well being. These fallen officers represent the best of the LAPD and we will never forget their service and sacrifice.
Since I first joined the Department in March of 1977, there have been 51 police officers that have died in the line of duty. Many of them are people I knew personally. These are not faceless names to me; these individuals were friends and family. I share the grief with their families, friends and partners. We must memorialize them through our own excellence. They all died in the pursuit of safety for the community and the best way to ensure they are never forgotten and always revered is to continue our service in making Los Angeles the safest big city in America.
On Wednesday, May 5, the Department will remember these fallen officers and express its gratitude to their families, at a police memorial ceremony in front of PAB. Remembered at that ceremony will be our latest casualty, Police Officer III+1 Robert J. Cottle. Known to many as RJ, he was killed in action on active duty overseas. RJ, a proud United States Marine, was last assigned to Metropolitan Division, SWAT, and was an exemplary and respected member of our LAPD family. With determination to honor his city and his country, RJ protected and served the people of LA and made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. I am struck by the extraordinary sacrifices our officers and their families make to serve our country on foreign soil and here in our communities.
The LAPD continues to maintain close relationships with all branches of the United States military and is proud to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of our Department employees and their families, many of whom continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces as members of the Reserves and the National Guard.
Officer Cottle’s name will be added to our memorial, as well as our website LAPDOnline. There, you will find a new feature that honors the memories of those killed in the line of duty. Titled “Gone but Not Forgotten,” on the anniversary date of an officer’s death, the feature displays a photo of the officer, if available, the officer’s rank, serial number, last assignment, end of watch, and cause of death. Since records began being kept in 1906, a total of 203 LAPD officers have been killed in the line of duty. During the month of May, I join you in the tradition of wearing the black mourning band on my badge in honor of RJ and our fallen officers. Although the ribbon I wear today will later be taken off, the affect on my heart will never go away.
Medal of Valor
Police work, even when done at its zenith and as correct as humanly possible, is a very dangerous occupation. Unfortunately far too many have paid the ultimate price for that danger. Many of us have been very lucky and some have not. Randy Simmons is an example of an officer who died doing what he loved, died doing what he believed was important, but nonetheless was a casualty of our profession. Randy was the epitome of the word hero and this month he will receive, posthumously, the Medal of Valor. Randy, along with 16 of his fellow officers, distinguished themselves with gallantry to save the lives of strangers at the risk of their own lives. Here is a complete list of the 2010 Medal of Valor Recipients.
Welby Way Incident
Sergeant Charles Buttitta, Metro SWAT
Police Officer Michael Barker, Metro SWAT
Police Officer Thomas Chinappi, Metro SWAT
Police Officer Floyd Curry, Metro SWAT
Police Officer German Hurtado, Metro SWAT
Police Officer David Keortge, Metro SWAT
Police Officer Bonnie Lehigh, West Valley Area
Police Officer Mark Mireles, West Valley Area
Police Officer Michael Odle, Metro SWAT
Police Officer George Ryan, Metro SWAT
Police Officer Anthony Samuelson, Metro SWAT
Police Officer Stephen Scallon, Metro SWAT
Police Officer Randal Simmons, Metro SWAT (Posthumously)
Police Officer James Veenstra, Retired Metro SWAT
405 Fwy Van Nuys Car Fire
Police Officer Eric Hammerschmitt, Van Nuys Area
118 Fwy High Speed Crash and Car Fire
Police Officer Steven Beumer, Hollywood Area
Police Officer Alonso Menchaca, Mission Area
“LAPD” on Display
The first impression Department personnel and visitors from around the world will get upon entrance to our new headquarters is an ongoing historical display of equipment utilized by the Department. Currently on display are motorcycles once used by our motor officers along with the new BMW model being integrated into our fleet. The next time you are downtown, please take a moment to come by and see what’s being showcased. The next display will highlight alternative law enforcement vehicles, such as the T-3's, our 4 wheeler Hillmann mobiles, and bikes from our bike patrol units.
Together We Can….
In my last message I committed to you that when I became your Chief, I would actively reach out to you to ask for your suggestions and to really listen to what you have to say about this organization and how together we can do a better job. As I stated, one way I continue to do that, is by going out on patrol once a month. That is my time to be with you, to be on the front lines with you, and to make sure I never lose touch with the realities of policing in 2010. Although I’ve been out there and have done the challenging police work that I ask you to do, I consider your insight to be the most valuable in the way we do business, because you are out there doing it from day to day. You see what works and what doesn’t. I will take a hard look at the ideas you are suggesting and I will involve your respective unions in the processes as well.
You haven’t been shy about talking to me directly or through my staff and Liaison Officers, and I welcome that. As of this writing, I’ve received and read several hundreds of emails from you, both sworn and civilian. I want to thank those that have been outspoken and candidly involved during the vertical staff meetings I’ve held. It is through your suggestions that I am able to put things in motion and direct my staff to research best practices and feasibility of implementing your suggestions. For example, the No Code-7 pilot program and the option to wear a tie in traditional Class “A” uniform were implemented as a direct result of the contacts you’ve made with me directly or through my staff. Another widely reported issue that surfaced soon after I was sworn in as Chief, was the lack of patrol resources and staffing levels at the geographic Areas. I read countless emails on this topic alone, and while the reorganization was also driven by these uncertain budgetary times, it was a direct result of the many concerns that you so clearly voiced to get more patrol resources out to you. I thank those that have become involved in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department by contacting me. It is evident that we have a vested interest in working together to get through these tough times.