Our day with the LAPD: November 9, 2013
Saturday began at the Los Angeles Public Library. Our guest was Robert Saltzman, Associate Dean of the Gould School of Law at USC, and a six-year member of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Mr. Saltzman led us through the intricate history of the Los Angeles Police Department, highlighting the powerful changes in policing and oversight since the 1992 Rodney King riots and unrest. He then took us through the equally intricate history and powers of the Police Commission, which offered us all a fascinating overview of civilian oversight of a once highly-militarized police force. We are very grateful to Mr. Saltzman for his time and insights, as it was an ideal introduction to the day. From the library, we went over to the Colburn School courtyard for a quick lunch, then off to the new Police Headquarters, where we were met by Sgt. John Vasquez, a thirty-plus year veteran of the LAPD (who is the 12th longest serving police officer in the city!). Sgt. Vasquez took us through the building, some of the LAPD operations, and provided us with a terrific overview of duties, obligations, and day-to-day practices of the police department. He was a congenial, informative, and friendly host, and we are grateful. At the 911 call center, we listened to actual 911 calls and tried to figure out what was going on in the chaos. The 911 professionals helped us understand the complex choreography of 911 calls and responses. From there, we went to Hollenbeck Station, just across the river on the east side, where Lead Officer Morales took us through a terrific tour of the station. We saw roll call instruction and daily preparation in action, and students got to ask a lot of questions about the ways in which community policing works and shows real results. It was an excellent day for LASA, one in which we all learned a lot.