As the Department continues its year long celebration of its 140th
Anniversary, I’d like to talk with you this month about a number of
issues. As a part of the Department’s 140th Anniversary, the month of
February celebrates the diversity of the Los Angeles Police
Department. Recognized as one of the nation’s most ethnically diverse
law enforcement agencies with a language bank over eighty languages
strong, the Los Angeles Police Department has truly become a Department
more reflective of the communities it serves. And with the support of
Mayor Villaraigosa to add 1,000 officers to our ranks, the LAPD aims to
increase and diversify its ranks even further. The current breakdown
of our sworn personnel closely mirrors the very diverse communities we
protect and serve. For example, in comparing the City’s demographics
to the Department’s overall sworn ethnicity, the City’s population is
comprised of 44.6% Hispanics versus 41.3% Hispanic officers, 31.1%
Caucasians versus 37.5% Caucasian officers, 12.0% Asian-Pacific
Islanders versus 8.6% Asian-Pacific Islander officers, 9.5% African
Americans versus 12.1% African American officers and 0.8% Native
Americans versus 0.5% Native American officers.
In reference to our continuing crime reduction efforts, at a time when
cities across the nation struggle with surges in violent crime, 2008,
thanks to your efforts, was the seventh year in a row that we have seen
significant reductions in crime. In 2008, your hard work and
dedication has driven homicides down another 4%. Angelenos have not
seen numbers this low since the 1960’s. Through your committed efforts
violent crimes have dropped another 4% and Total Part I Crimes have
decreased 2.5% since 2007.
Reported gang crime shows even more significant reductions. The
Department’s 2008 gang initiatives proved highly effective with
reductions in nearly every gang category. Gang homicides have declined
25%, aggravated assaults are down 15%, and gang-related carjackings
have gone down 27% for an overall 10% reduction in gang crime. There
were also 300 fewer victims of gang-related shootings in 2008 versus
As your Chief, there is no more important mission than ensuring the
safety of the men and women of this Department. To that end, in 2009,
the command staff and I will increase our focus on reiterating and
reinforcing the basic tenants of officer safety which are at the core
of your training and day-to-day mission. Command officers will
directly address this issue with their officers and each supervisor
will discuss officer safety issues with their platoons. Supervisors
will also be directed to immediately address officer safety concerns
when they become apparent.
As part of our continuing efforts to improve officer safety, we will be
doing a number of things. Through recent changes to the Use of Force
Review and Adjudication process, the Use of Force Review Division
identified notable tactical and officer safety issues during the
adjudication of both Categorical and Non-Categorical Use of Force
incidents. The following are some of the more serious trends and
concerns that arise repeatedly and must be comprehensively and
proactively addressed by all Department members.
A review of Use of Force cases has revealed a disturbing trend of
officers failing to go Code-6 on calls for service or upon self
initiating field activity. While there may be occasions when there is
simply no time to go Code-6, the majority of cases where failing to go
Code-6 was identified as a serious issue, officers failed to do so when
there was sufficient time. Additionally, in many circumstances where
officers originally went Code-6, they then failed to update their
location after moving to another location or changing locations to do a
follow up investigation or make contact with a suspect. Failing to go
Code-6, or to notify Communications Division of their updated location,
exposes officers to serious jeopardy when and if they need help.
SECURING SUFFICIENT RESOURCES
When responding to calls or self initiating field activities or
contacts, officers must ensure they have enough personnel and the
appropriate tools to address the problem. When officers face a violent
suspect without sufficient assistance or the proper tools, such as a
baton, TASER or Bean Bag Shotgun, they may place themselves and their
partners, as well as innocent civilians, at significant and avoidable
Some examples include: failing to request additional units for a
perimeter or to contain an armed suspect; or leaving an issued TASER in
the trunk of the car when confronting a potentially violent suspect.
Bottom line – officers should make every effort to maintain a tactical
advantage. Whenever you request additional officers or tools,
Communications Division will find the resources you need - if not from
your own area then from a neighboring area. We are also, this year,
acquiring an additional 1,200 more modern TASERs for distribution to
the patrol force, along with 10,000 ROVERs to be issued to each officer
with individual ID numbers for emergency help identification.
WORKING ON SIMPLEX
Officers should NOT use simplex as their sole primary operating
frequency. At least one officer should be on their base frequency or
on a monitored Tactical Frequency. The Department has 14 individual
Tactical Frequencies, including six assigned to each bureau. The
issuing of individually assigned ROVERs will increase your ability to
comply with this concern.
While Simplex is a great resource, it is limited in range and is
generally not monitored by Communications Division. In short, when you
yell for help it is possible that no one will hear you. When involved
in any tactical operation, or during day-to-day deployment, officers
must have access to their designated base frequency or in the
alternative, operate on a monitored tactical frequency when it is
appropriate to do so.
REQUESTING BACK UP OR ASSISTANCE WHEN YOU NEED HELP
Another significant cause for concern is the trend for officers to
mitigate their need for help. In several cases, officers broadcast a
Back-Up or Assistance request – when the incident had clearly escalated
to an emergency and HELP was urgently needed.
The policy on Help calls is currently being rewritten; however, current
Department policy states that a HELP call must be broadcast when
immediate aid is required by an officer. Ultimately, failing to
broadcast a HELP call - when help is clearly needed - can cost lives.
When in any doubt about “HELP” or back up, call for “HELP.”
In summary, to increase your safety, officers are expected to:
• Go Code-6 and continually update their location
• Secure sufficient resources, whenever possible - prior to taking
action or initiating contact with suspects. These resources may take
the form of additional personnel or tools.
• Work on a primary or other monitored duplex frequency and only use Simplex frequencies in limited tactical circumstances.
• Lastly, do not minimize your need for help. When you are faced with an EMERGENCY – request HELP.
To be clear – officer safety and tactics is of paramount concern and
will receive my full attention when I am reviewing Use of Force cases
and other incidents. Furthermore, I have directed the Use of Force
Review Division and Use of Force Review Board be vigilant for these and
other officer safety practices, and to take these concerns into
consideration when adjudicating the tactics portion of a Use of Force
Your safety is my primary concern and that of your union and our
Department. We need each and every one of you. You count, you
matter. Let’s work together to make sure that everybody goes home
safely at end of watch.