On a grassy field of the academy, under the warm Southern California sun, an LAPD recruit stands at attention. He is surrounded by thirty or so men and women, all lined up in formation by his side—most soon to become his brothers and sisters in blue. While his stomach may be fluttering, his spirit is without doubt full of pride as the citizen-turned-police recruit awaits the beginning of a career on the Los Angeles Police Department and a place in its ever-changing, ever-pioneering and ever-expanding history.
Like the thousands of men and women who came before, sworn to protect and serve, every officer of the Los Angeles Police Department weaves another stitch in the legacy of the LAPD. With each call responded, each crisis handled and each cry for help answered, LAPD officers have and will continue to distinguish what it means to be a cop in the city of Angels.
In its 160-year history, the Los Angeles Police Department has adapted to (and sometimes defined) the times, and all the accomplishments and challenges that come with them. Forever intertwined with the city it serves, LAPD began with a mere six officers carrying out frontier justice in what was then a sleepy coastal village. Now, sprawling 465 square miles that buzz with more than 220 spoken languages, Los Angeles is one of the most ethnically and geographically diverse cities in the nation; and the department of today is just as all-encompassing, with 10,000 men and women of all races equipped with the latest technologies and training to protect and serve them all.
From Gamewells to GPS, from horses to helicopters, from gangsters to gang members—everything from technology to transportation to threats to the LAPD are always transforming. Yet through it all, the job of the street officer essentially remains the same. It has and always will be order versus chaos, cop versus criminal, good versus evil. And while the specifics of the job vary through the decades, the spirit and commitment of each officer stands true through whatever the next pages of history may write.
As the modern recruit awaits graduation in his pressed, blue uniform, he—just like those before him—needs just one more hallmark to complete his transition onto the force: an LAPD badge, which will be pinned over his heart. With that badge comes a promise that he will wear and fulfill each day—a promise to safeguard the lives of others, a promise to improve the quality of life in the city, a promise to protect and serve the citizens of Los Angeles. With that badge of honor, he will become a Los Angeles police officer.
Over the last century and a half, this badge has varied—from a tin star of the 1800s to the most recognizable police shield in the world today. Yet through it all, the symbol of the LAPD has always carried this same promise, just as its wearer carries the same responsibility. Each officer who has pinned on this badge, holstered a gun and traveled the corridors of history has left behind the rich traditions that are today the Los Angeles Police Department. The chronicle of the LAPD is the story of these men and women who have committed themselves as the Guardians of Angels.