On Saturday, November 15, LASA participants spent a fascinating day talking about law enforcement. We were incredibly fortunate to begin the day at the Los Angeles Public Library with Robert Saltzman, one of five members of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Commissioner Saltzman provided LASA participants with a general overview of the LAPD, emphasizing the many changes that have taken place within the LAPD over the past two decades, and then explained the oversight role of the civilian Police Commission. Commissioner Saltzman then led us through a hypothetical, but realistic, Use-of-Force scenario in which LASA students and teachers had to consider whether or not a police officer appropriately fired her weapon. A lengthy discussion ensued as LASA participants considered many of the factors that confront the Police Commission each time it evaluates whether or not an officer is justified in using his or her weapon.
The group was so engaged that the use-of-force discussion would have lasted longer, but we had to cut short our time with Commissioner Saltzman and race off to LAPD headquarters, where we were met by Officers Leon Tsap and Robert Frutos. Building on several of the themes in Commissioner Saltzman’s presentation, officers Tsap and Frutos discussed many of the changes that have taken place within the LAPD since the 1990s, emphasizing in particular that the 10,000 sworn officers on the police force are now much more representative of the city as a whole. Officer Tsap, who has been on the force for nearly a decade, and Officer Frutos, with nearly three decades of service, enthralled LASA with a summary of their own service and the various assignments, including undercover work, that they have done during their careers. (As a result of one assignment, Officer Frutos had the remarkable good fortune to have breakfast with Nelson Mandela). After a tour of LAPD headquarters, officers Tsap and Frutos took us to the 911 Emergency Call Center, which fields nearly 4 million calls per year (that is more than 10,600 per day) and the RACR Command Center, where the LAPD and LA Fire Departments have special command centers set up for use in case of a major earthquake or other civic emergency.
A huge thanks to Commissioner Saltzman and to Officers Tsap and Frutos for an informative and eye-opening day!