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Chief of Police Message - June 2010

Chief Daryl F. Gates

As I and members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Metropolitan Division lay to rest Police Officer III+1 Robert J. Cottle at a ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery on April 16th, I was notified of the passing of Chief Daryl F. Gates.  The 49th Chief of this great organization, Gates devoted his life to this Department.  During his tenure as Chief, Daryl Gates was the LAPD, and the LAPD was Daryl Gates. 

On September 16, 1949, Gates was sworn in as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department.  On March 28, 1978, he was sworn in as the 49th Chief of Police and would lead the LAPD for 14 years. 

Gates was a Chief for his time, and it was a difficult time in American policing.  In LA, it was a thin blue line that policed the city.  The Chief shaped and formed many of the existing practices and policies of the LAPD and community based programs which have been adapted and implemented around the world.

He recognized the need for elite trained officers and paved the way for the creation of SWAT.  In his fight against the crack cocaine epidemic, he put 10 police officers in fifty schools teaching fifth and sixth grade students about the dangers of drug use.  DARE would go on to be taught in all 50 states and around the world.

Knowing the eyes of the world would be on Los Angeles for the 1984 summer Olympic Games; Chief Gates strategically deployed 2,300 officers, helping to make the games a success. 

It was his support for Baker to Vegas that also made the event successful in its early years.  An avid runner himself, Chief Gates had hoped to be at this year’s run, but because of his declining health, it wasn’t possible.  The LAPD teams did however, have the support of the Gates family and we appreciate them being there during a very difficult time.  I also want to thank and congratulate all of our runners on their performances.  The LAPD Metro Blue team was our first Department team to cross the finish line amongst the many that participated.  A very special thank you as well to the families and friends of our runners and to each of the support teams who worked hard to guide our runners through the desert, over the mountains, and into Las Vegas.

The LAPD prides itself on its commitment to athletic competitions.  Our men and women who compete on LAPD teams spend a great deal of time and effort to represent us well.  Many of them will soon participate in the upcoming Western State Police and Fire Games.  The week long multi-sport Olympic-style program will be held the last week of July in Reno, Sparks, Tahoe and Truckee, Nevada.  I thank each of them for representing the LAPD, and I know they will have a great experience. Please visit the LAPD Sports page on LAPDOnline.org for the latest results from all the games.

Employee Wellness

While sporting events and being a member of an athletic team may help to keep you physically fit, and is an element of employee wellness, you are also responsible for following policies that keep you safe.  Sadly, far too many of you are not wearing your seatbelts.  And when involved in a traffic collision, consequently, there are many of you suffering more severe injuries because of it. 


You make a conscious decision to compromise your personal safety and violate Department policy when you choose not to buckle up.  Remember, it is statistically more likely for officers to be killed in a traffic collision than in an officer involved shooting.  While a majority of you use your seatbelt, it is crucial that we achieve 100 percent compliance.

I understand that from a tactical standpoint there may be some instances where you may not always be able to buckle up, but I expect you to wear your seatbelt when performing your usual day-to-day duties.  Not only is this an officer safety issue, but is also one of integrity.  As law enforcement professionals are granted the power to cite offenders of the State’s seatbelt law, so must we lead by example.

Employee wellness also means finding healthy ways to cope with the stresses that come with being a police officer, or working for the Department as a civilian.  Using alcohol to deal with job stress can quickly lead to alcohol abuse and drinking and driving.  Statistics from 2006-2008 revealed that on average, 21 Department employees, sworn and civilian, are arrested each year for DUI.  The decision to drive while inebriated is a question of character and integrity.  When consumption of alcohol leads to abuse and dependence connected to psychological concerns, the effects are seen and felt at home and the workplace.  To educate you about the dangers of alcohol use and driving while under the influence, I require you to watch two separate roll call videos each year that addresses the issue.  It takes courage to get involved and to confront a co-worker you think may have a problem, but speaks volumes of one’s own character.  We owe it to each other to step in and help one another.

In addition, the Department’s Behavioral Science Services (BSS) psychologists routinely reach out to Commanding Officers and supervisors to educate them on the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse and dependence, causes and potential impacts of (excessive) use, the connection to other psychological concerns (depression, suicide), and how to intervene and make appropriate referrals to BSS.  

While a DUI arrest may reflect purely bad judgment, the majority of the individuals who are arrested while DUI already have significant stress in their lives, in addition to the stress caused by the arrest/detainment and in the worst case scenario, serious injury or loss of life.

My message to you has been that cops count - character counts; do the right thing and you can be the difference.  As officers of the law, and employees of the LAPD, you have a responsibility to hold yourself to a higher standard.  In order to enforce the law we must practice it. When we break the same laws we enforce it undermines the trust and confidence of the communities we serve.

Together We Can

Again, I thank you for the personal emails I have received with your suggestions and questions.  As I continue to speak with many of you when I work patrol once a month and through my monthly messages, I will provide you with feedback on various projects in the works. Your suggestions have not fallen on deaf ears, but please be patient as change takes time.  The following are some of your recommendations that we are currently working on:

  • Streamlining the RFC and Private Persons Arrest process;
  • assessing the need to staff morning watch hours at geographic areas’ station front desks;
  • streamlining the jail process;
  • elimination of “complained of injury” traffic reports; and
  • creating a more responsive and timely process for issuing awards, citations and commendations. 

As training is another topic of discussion you bring to my attention, let me provide an overview of some firearms and tactics training that many of you have inquired about. 

In my effort to keep you safe while working a black and white, Training Division (TD) continues to offer improved and frequent training opportunities.  I am in full support of the Patrol Rifle expansion program and Training Division has a goal to keep a minimum of 16 rifles in each Area.  It is no longer limited as to rank for who can carry a Patrol Rifle. Please look on the LAN for detailed information about upcoming classes.

This Fall TD will offer a semi-auto pistol transition school for those who are interested in transitioning from a weapon without a de-cocking lever to one with, such as an authorized Smith and Wesson or Beretta.  As you may already know MACTAC Basic continues weekly.  We currently have over 6,000 officers trained.  We will soon be starting up the MACTAC Team Leader course and next year we will begin to conduct MACTAC field exercises.  Additionally, LETAC continues to run three times each Deployment Period.  You can see your Training Coordinator for more information.

Finally, each year your training coordinators are required to work with TD to put on a perishable skills/firearms training day.  My goal is to provide you with quality training and the tools to keep you safe.

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