Policing a world class city like Los Angeles presents unique challenges. The allure of our great City draws people from around the globe and events in Los Angeles captivate the world’s attention. Last month, we hosted several large events, including the Los Angeles Marathon.
I thank each and every one of you working behind the scenes in the planning stages and those working on the days of the events. You represented our City and the Department with professionalism and class, despite unexpected circumstances while we were mourning the tragic loss of our fallen brother.
On March 7, 2014 the Los Angeles Police Department lost a hero, Hollywood Area's
Police Officer III Nicholas Lee, Serial No. 34980. While we recognize everyday our officers put their lives on the line to uphold the law and keep our communities safe, it is the harsh reality of police work. It is the reality we come to despise when a hero is taken from us like Nick and the 204 officers before him, killed in the line of duty. Nick's death was a great loss to our police family, all of law enforcement and the residents of Los Angeles. I know you will continue to honor Nick's memory and offer your unrelenting support to his family and his partner officer, Stephanie. Always look after each other and remember...heroes never die. They live forever in our hearts.
Death of LAPD's First Latina Police Woman
Last month we learned of the unfortunate passing of Police Woman Josephine Serrano Collier, Serial No. 3265.Josephine was part the first group of women to join the Los Angeles Police Department not as Matrons but as Police Women.
In 1946 on the advice of a friend, Josephine applied to the LAPD regardless of the strong cultural traditions and against her family wishes. Josephine, at the young age of 23 was one of 200 women who applied. She completed academy training for Police Women during the first class in 1946, issued a nurse's uniform and earned a salary of $200 per month. As the first Latina Police Woman she had difficult challenges not only as a woman but as a Latina in an era of difficult cultural challenges for the Department. Josephine served in the Lincoln Heights Jail where she remained for several years. In 1948 the Police Women were sent back to the academy to learn how to shoot and were issued firearms as well as the first Police Woman uniform. Josephine served various assignments in Hollenbeck Vice, Juvenile, Bunco and foot beat assignments.
Josephine married fellow Officer Darwin “Jack” Collier and raised three children. She retired on October 24, 1960 as a result of an injury. Josephine passed on February 25, 2014 in Tucson, Arizona.
The Department recognizes Josephine for her sacrifices and breaking the lines that divided women from many assignments in the early history of LAPD. Her commitments and sacrifices opened the doors for many women and Latinas within the Department and set the stage for future generations.
History of Communications Division
With National Dispatchers Week being observed during the month of April, I wanted to take this opportunity to feature Communications Division. Communications Division serves as the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for the City of Los Angeles, with all 9-1-1 calls originating within the City routed to there.
Here's a glimpse of how things were done in the Department, long before any of our active police officers were born. It was in 1931, under the leadership of Police Chief Roy Steckel, that the Los Angeles Police Department began dispatching patrol units via radio. Telephone calls from the public were answered by City Hall switchboard operators. Those requiring police service were sent by conveyer belt to a Police Officer in a remote-control room in the north wing of City Hall, who would then broadcast the call over the air. Shortly thereafter, an eight-position “Complaint Board” was created. Police Officers working this assignment received calls directly from the public, rather than having information relayed from the City Hall operators. Complaint Board Officers were required to have at least five years of field experience.
In the 1950’s, dispatching for the San Fernando Valley was handled from a separate facility in Van Nuys. When Parker Center opened in 1955, Communications Division was moved from City Hall to the new Police Administration Building. The space was three times larger than the City Hall facility and became known as the “Horse Shoe” because of the “U” shaped layout of the consoles. On April 17, 1983, Communications Division moved into the newly constructed “Central Dispatch Center,” or CDC, located four stories below City Hall East.
In January 1984, just in time for the Olympics, the 9-1-1 emergency number became operational in the City of Los Angeles. All 9-1-1 and dispatching activity was handled at the CDC by civilian dispatchers known as Police Service Representatives, or PSRs. A PSR was assigned to one of four functions: Radio Telephone Operator (RTO), Emergency Board Operator (EBO), Auxiliary Telephone Operator (ATO) or Bureau Communications Coordinator (BCC).
Finally, the Metropolitan Communications Dispatch Center (MCDC) was built, located at First and Los Angeles Streets, and the Valley Communications Dispatch Center (VCDC) was constructed in West Hills. The MCDC began operations on November 5, 2002 and the VCDC went on-line on September 23, 2003. The two facilities are identical and offer true real-time redundancy. In the event one facility suffers a failure, the other center can immediately assume control of communications functions for the entire City.
One of the most highly publicized and well known incidents that exemplifies the professionalism and superior training of LAPD’s PSRs was on February 28, 1997. Two heavily armed gunmen robbed a Bank of America branch on Laurel Canyon Boulevard in North Hollywood. As the gunmen were attempting to flee the robbery, North Hollywood patrol officers confronted the suspects. A 44-minute gun battle followed, resulting in injuries to 11 police officers, 7 civilians, and the death of both suspects.
With the help of their co-workers, PSRs TonjaBellard, Guadalupe De La Cruz and Robyn Frazier maintained order during absolute chaos. These PSRs handled multiple reports of officers and citizens down, Officer Needs Help calls, and numerous overlapping radio messages. This situation is a dispatcher’s worst nightmare but they maintained their composure and became a comforting voice for our wounded officers awaiting help. The Communications Division personnel involved received numerous awards and accolades for their outstanding performance during a horrific situation.
Everyday our dispatchers handle to perfection extremely challenging or emotional calls for service we don't always learn about it in the news, but these incidents do exist. I have had the opportunity to work side by side with some of our best PSRs and I am simply humbled by what they do. They offer exceptional service and work so hard to ensure the officers are safe and provide as much information as possible to handle a radio call or manage a tactical scene. As a patrol cop and now as Chief, I have always appreciated their work and recognize their unique talents. When I am working patrol or driving through the City and I hear a simple "Thank you" or "Good Night and Be Safe" over the radio, it makes me proud to hear the sense of teamwork and professional camaraderie. Continue to respect each other and recognize we all have a difficult and sometimes challenging job to do, even for those on other side of the radio.
On behalf of the men and women of the LAPD, please accept my most sincere "Thank You". We thank our dispatchers for the remarkable work they do every day, 24/7.
Be safe in your actions and lean on each other when you need to,