“Thank you for this survey. This is the first organized inquiry I can recall in a long time, and it reinforces how the LAPRF has been an advocate for the LAPD Reserve Corps.”
“Thanks for sending this out!”
“This survey was poorly written.”
“Thanks for giving us a voice through this survey. How will [we] be notified about the progress of this survey? It would be disappointing to find that it fell on deaf ears!”
“Make sure to publish the findings of this survey.”
— Responses to Question 36: “Any other comments, feedback, or advice?”
In September and October 2023, the Los Angeles Police Reserve Foundation (LAPRF) conducted a 36-question survey of LAPD reserve police officers, active and retired, for feedback on the state of the Corps and for recommendations on a number of issues, the results of which would be reported in this Rotator newsletter article.
The LAPRF received an incredible 106 responses by the October 13 deadline. Thank you for all the responses; it was clear you had a lot to say and wanted to be heard. As this newsletter went to press, and in consideration of the volume of content, it was decided that the results would need to be published over two or more articles. Covered in this Winter 2023 edition are:
- Survey numbers — the summary
- Imagine you have the power to change anything within the Department and specifically the Reserve Corps; anything to improve the reserve program
- Imagine your job is to coordinate reserve officer task forces
- Why did you become an LAPD reserve police officer? Who/what inspired you?
LAPD reserve officers gave voice to this article; your responses are quoted throughout. While we couldn’t include all responses to each of the questions, it is hoped that the selected quotes reflect the general issues and concerns expressed by the survey respondents. Other parts of the survey will be incorporated into future Rotator articles, including training and recruitment, tactics and best practices, the Reserve Foundation and its initiatives, skills and experiences officers have outside of law enforcement, etc.
The survey was created on the SurveyMonkey platform and was anonymous. The first question was an option to add your name, in case you wanted to, or were OK with possibly being quoted in this article or subsequent reports. Twenty-seven added their names or a pseudonym. These are included in the quotes.
Survey Numbers — the Summary
In October, the active reserve officer roster included a total of 404 sworn officers: 326 Level I, 28 Level II, 25 Level III and 25 Level III-Armed. Active reserve officers were 71.70% of the respondents, retired reserve officers (20 or more years of service) were 22.64%, most of whom recently retired, and those with less than 20 years of reserve service were 5.66%.
Of those who replied, 68.27% were Level I (Line, CL, CDL), 10.58% were Level II, 4.81% were Level III (Technical), 7.69% were Level III-Armed (Technical), 4.81%, were Former Full-Time/Active Reserve and 3.85% were Chaplain/Specialist. The mean (average) and median (middle) of respondents’ reserve years of service were both about 20, indicating a good range of experience. Based on these numbers and other responses, it looks like some former full-timers may have selected Level I on the survey instead of Former Full-Time and that approximately 40 respondents are estimated to be former full-time reserves.
The Power to Change the Department and Reserve Corps
Imagine you have the power to change anything within the Department and specifically the Reserve Corps; anything to improve the reserve program. What would you do?
Eighty-eight responses were given. As it turns out, this question — what would you do? — was also answered in more detail in other survey questions, and we selected a few below.
The single most prevalent recommendation throughout the survey was to pay reserve officers. “I know this fundamentally changes the nature of the LAPD Reserve Corps, but this is where many, if not most, agencies are headed,” one respondent said. Another said: “I believe the Department is ‘missing the boat’ by not paying Level I CD reserve officers. Most departments in Southern California pay their reserve officers, especially when they backfill vacant patrol spots or for special details. With the Department down nearly 1,000 sworn officers, utilizing and paying the reserves would help meet staffing needs.” In the SurveyMonkey slider question (on a scale of 0 to 10), “How much more would you work if LAPD reserve police officers were paid, i.e., as a part-time employee per shift, or for special assignments? (Zero would mean not important at all),” the average was 65%.
“Getting coordinators and others who are passionate and care about the reserves” was discussed throughout the survey:
- “In my career as an LAPD reserve officer, I’ve had great coordinators and those who I barely remember. The Area/Division C/O is the key. Unfortunately, the position of reserve coordinator at the division level is often seen by C/Os as a place to park someone they need to get out of the field, for whatever reason. Sometimes that actually results in getting a great leader in the position, but too often it results in mediocrity.”
- “Johnny Johnson is a great choice as [the new] OIC [at LAPD HQ] … I would say the F/T officers in that downtown unit need to have the passion. They should love the very idea of reserves and have respect for those who do this job. Be leaders.”
- “Embrace all levels of reserves.”
- “What has been forgotten is that LAPD required much more training for their technical reserves (many of us still active) than the current Module III that CA POST requires today, which is about half as much training. IBARS, George cars, Hide, we did so much more back in the day. Nobody remembers that as desk officers, techs had to be trained on the Department shotgun. Techs should have been classified as Level II, with Specialists as Level III, if the latter took the necessary training.”
Some of the other feedback to the question involved disciplinary issues:
- “Increase protections for reserve officers with regard specifically to 1.28s and personnel matters. We deserve the same protections as full-time officers do considering we are doing the same job, however, without compensation. This would include a full board-of-rights process for reserve officers.”
- “To not get fired so easily as has happened to others…”
- “Extend the full protections of the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights (POBOR) to reserves … although not required by law/case law, it is the right thing to do … Reserve officers need to know that while risking their lives, fortunes, and honor, that they will be protected and have due process and the opportunity to defend their jobs and reputation.”
Access to a wider array of assignments made the list, along with the importance of informing watch commanders about the reserve program:
- “Get more information out to the full-time officers, particularly the sergeants and lieutenants, about the reserves, the levels, and the training and abilities of reserves. Getting stuck on CP duty on incidents because they think we’re glorified security guards is frustrating and limiting.”
- Gary Loo said: “It would be nice if there [were] a rotation program where experienced reserves can do a DP or two at other divisions. I have often heard that some divisions discourage reserves from working details outside of their assigned division. Although I have not experienced this at Central, I do think other divisions are more restrictive. If the reserve unit can remove any such restrictions and/or encourage cross-division assignments, that would be great and help to increase morale.”
- “Create uniformity across the Department so that reserves are not treated different in certain divisions. Also consider [an officer’s] age [and] capabilities before requiring them to work the field. There’s a multitude of details/assignments for reserves to work and contribute to the Department…”
- Douglas Pell, who spent 49 years in the field, said: “When I took myself out of field assignments, it took a fair amount of time before I found a decent assignment that was good for me and good for the Department. I think that there are a lot of areas in the Department where reserve ‘seniors’, such as myself, could be effective, but there is no organized process to identify opportunities for the seniors who might want to continue to volunteer.”
- Henry J. Baez said: “I believe the Department has come a long way supporting the reserve program, providing officers opportunities in specialized assignments. For example, I was the first reserve officer to attend Detective School in 1991.”
Regarding detectives, several reserves inquired about attending a detective school, which had been planned a few years ago, and suggested that ranks for reserves who achieve these positions, and other assignments, be considered:
- “Allow reserve officers to promote to higher ranks. Pay reserves to work special assignments.”
- “Have ranks — like other departments and our own Cadet program. Provide detective school training.”
- “Recognize those serving in a detective role, with full LAPD detective training, as either ‘Reserve Detective,’ ‘Detective,’ or ‘Investigator.’” (Note: The LAPD currently has a Reserve Cold Case Homicide Unit.1
- “I would like the chief of police to allow the reserves serving with the Honor Guard to be volunteer reserves. Meaning that they are able to carry out their ceremonial Honor Guard duties in full LAPD Honor Guard uniform with firearms without having to complete the 24-hour POST training every two years. As a volunteer reserve assigned to the Honor Guard, I do not, have not and will not be serving in the field and have no need for the POST training requirement. My LAPD reserve duties are strictly ceremonial in nature. There are several retired LAPD Honor Guard members that would love to come back and honor this Department and its members. They have been retired too long to join the reserve rank without going through the Reserve Academy training. They do not wish to do that. The Department and the Honor Guard (EAU) could certainly use their expertise.”
- T. Ashley Harvey said: “Bring back the ability to become a Level I officer in one long, extended academy, rather than broken up into multiple small academies that may require you to wait years for a class to level up.”
- Ken Choi said: “As there is a crisis right now with hiring new police officers for LAPD, I would encourage the Department to utilize reserve officers to assist with background investigations to further speed up the candidate screening process for both full-time and reserve police officers. I would also encourage reserve officers to spend more time with community engagement (i.e., Coffee With a Cop, etc.) activities.”
- “Organized approach to training requirements and fixed dates published months in advance for required training. This will allow reserve members with full-time jobs to coordinate with their employment to fulfill these requirements.”
- “It would be nice to have two shooting days a year available to us.”
A couple officers brought up the recent CCW decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen: “In a 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that New York’s law was unconstitutional and that the ability to carry a pistol in public was a constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.”2 As one respondent wrote, “The Department is now issuing CCWs to civilians and then won’t issue [them] to LII and armed LIII reserves … If [the Department] was that worried, they could have put on a one-day CCW school and issue them an official CCW, just like a civilian can now obtain.” Another noted that the Department may be out of compliance with the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA)3 under these circumstances.
Lydia Leos focused on the Department wellness program, saying: “The current program needs major improvement. A survey or audit is needed to identify where and what is lacking in the current program. A wellness program should support all employees every day, not just once a year. It should not just support the administrative assignments.”
Recently retired Reserve Motor Officer Jeff Nocket, who retired after 32 years, relocated to Central California with his family, joined as a reserve deputy at the Madera County Sheriff’s Office and now serves as a director for the California Reserve Peace Officers Association (CRPOA), said: “In my career, I’ve seen the Reserve Corps go through several cycles of ups and downs. It usually starts with a lack of attention … and wanes until it becomes a crisis, then they appoint someone to go ‘fix it.’ Usually, the person they appoint is at the end of their career and leaves halfway through the ‘fix.’ Things get better for a while, then the decline starts until it reaches crisis stage again. I’ve lived through this cycle four times in my career.”
Reserve Task Forces
Imagine your job is to coordinate reserve officer task forces, to address specific crimes, areas or quality-of-life issues throughout the city. What task forces would you run? If you want to dig deeper, what would be the requirements necessary for a successful operation? Those of you who worked IBARS back in the day, please tell us about your experience.
This was one of the main questions of the survey, considering one of the historical purposes of a reserve program was as a supplementary force, particularly during World War II.
In terms of crimes and quality-of-life issues, many of the same suggestions came up:
- “Major crime, traffic, homeless, and specialized task forces to help Areas plagued by challenges. An example could be teams to deal with organized retail theft, street crimes, protecting religious sites, homeless violence, illicit drug use, etc.”
- “Crime trends that plague the city and get the most news coverage (i.e., retail theft, street takeovers, homeless encampments).”
Other responses focused on the operations:
- “The best task forces I worked had a specific
mission (e.g., saturate a given area, or go look for this specific problem), and the reserves partnered up and executed the mission. Supervision (a sergeant or SLO) was nearby and could respond quickly if anything came up. One possibility could be a task force for an area frequently hit with smash-and-grab 211s, or 211s from restaurant patrons at outdoor seating. I have worked task forces in areas with a lot of bars to monitor for alcohol-related issues around last call. I have also worked task forces in areas with a lot of parking lots where there were issues with BFMVs.”
- Ken Choi said: “The easiest task force is to deploy reserve police officers on patrol for high-visibility purposes. It is the easiest way to utilize reserve police officers. When there is a saturation of black-and-white vehicles in any given area, there tends to be less crimes being committed during that time where there is high police visibility. Other task forces include traffic enforcement and active community engagement by stopping by and talking with small business owners such as retail shops, restaurants, etc. Lastly, reserve officers can assist patrol by taking report calls (i.e., 459 investigation, theft, BFMV, vandalism, etc.).”
- “As a full-time sworn police officer and sergeant, I ran several uniformed crime suppression task forces and many that involved plainclothes surveillance as well. Using data received through area and bureau CompStat, I would determine what problems a division was having, then assemble experienced reserve officers to address the problem through high-visibility, zero-tolerance enforcement and, if necessary, combine that with surveillance where uniformed personnel were directed in by the officers in the OP to interrupt a crime in progress (BFMV, for example).”
- “The Department is trying to be responsive to events like mass protests and crime-specific task forces, but doesn’t quite relate those to the reserve
experience and work details. There is an emphasis on LIs and LIIs going out on patrol for things like synagogue protections, but [they] don’t offer opportunities for non-patrol LIIs and LIIIs to participate … Also, getting feedback on [the] performance on special
work details is lacking … What were the results of reserve efforts? Did anything happen? Did anything not happen?”
- “My only strong opinion on this matter is, to integrate full-time officers into these operations … When too many reserves get together, leadership freaks out and starts making special polices, rules and deviations [from] our normal SOPs. The addition of F/T officers will ensure continuity with normal operations. F/T officers can provide guidance on things like paperwork that we might be rusty on …”
A few more suggestions:
- “Turn the monthly meetings … into a task force with the divisional reserve officers.”
- “Perhaps create a reserve unit similar to Metro4 where you can be assigned throughout the city. The unit does not need to be a huge unit; only enough to fill a small task force.”
Some respondents recalled examples of task forces they worked in the past:
- “Devonshire Division used to have an all-reserve SPU. We would meet on Friday or Saturday night at 1800 with the captain, and he/she would give us an assignment for that evening. Always related to crime suppression.”
- “WTD used to hold weekly and holiday impound details where all reserves and volunteers were welcome. Reserve and full-time Motors, Reserves LI-LIII (in B&W cars) and Specialists (in unmarked detective cars) would patrol and, as appropriate, enforce registration and plate/tab violations. Eligible vehicles were impounded if [an] investigation revealed [that they were] unregistered over six months and only upon approval by an officer. At the station, we bought a tac frequency and had our own team deploy and log on units, run CLETS, relay info, audit reports and get supervisor approval … We’d focus on supporting Areas where tourism and traffic were greatest seasonally near Dockweiler Beach in PAC during the spring/summer holidays and weekends and often HWD during cool season holidays; WLA and WIL would receive attention as well. On occasion, our unit would be loaned out for joint task forces for pedestrian stings and impound details in VNY or in 77th, or assist on loan to STD with their DUI checkpoints in SOE/HARB areas. WTD even had a reserve bike unit for a brief time for Beach Details and for Marathon/Triathlon traffic safety/crowd safety patrols.”
- Roger Andrews said: “My favorite was educating street racers; some got the citation and impound and some got a gift certificate to the legal drag strip.”
Immediate Booking and Release System (IBARS), which ran for many years in the 1980s and early 1990s, was mentioned multiple times by veteran reserve officers. The quotes recall a time when all levels worked together in crime suppression that had a measurable impact for about 10 years:
- “IBARS [was] the gold standard of what LAPD reserve task forces can be …”
- Gary Krystof said: “IBARS was a cadre of reserves and other volunteers that filled that unique requirement. The special ‘funding’ for IBARS sort of set it as [a] benchmark [that is] hard to reach today. There are many special events throughout the city. Often, the effort to incorporate reserves is more time consuming than just using full-time officers. The lack of operations of the reserves over the last number of years has created many reserves that now will not sign up for help when asked to do so. Once you operate for years on not requiring participation, it is going to require an evolution to regain momentum.”
- Steve Getz said: “I worked IBARS for three years … it was very successful processing DUIs for the CHP, as well as sting operations conducted by the LAPD. It allowed the officers to drop off the suspects and get back out in the field to do what they do best … while we processed the paperwork, fingerprinted and transported the suspects.”
- “At IBARS, we were given a specific assignment at a pre-arranged roll call. Everyone worked together to complete the duties for the evening. It was clear-cut as to what you were expected to do. These current ‘task forces’ … pictures of a six across line of reserves walking down a sidewalk don’t seem to be effective, but that’s just what I’m looking at on Facebook. How about some stats? How much crime was reduced that night? Any positive experiences? Why not be targeting malls where the takeover robberies and looting occur?”
- “This [task force question] is a double-edged sword, I remember IBARS as a ‘Tech.’ It was laborious and kind of thankless. But it was also sort of fun and exciting. As a Level I, there is a balance of having fun, attacking the problem, and then receiving multiple subpoenas to go to court, which disrupts school and work. So pairing up a reserve with a full-timer who can go to court made these details more workable for me when I did them. I remember getting a subpoena for traffic court on a day I had a final exam in law school from a street racing task force. So figuring out a way to serve, support, have fun and get the job done without the huge court commitment for the day job.”
Inspiration for Becoming a Reserve
We’ll end this first article with this survey question: Why did you become an LAPD reserve police officer? Who/what inspired you?
There were 100 replies to this question. Here is a selection:
- “I’m an adrenaline junkie.”
- Tom Patterson said: “I was always interested with law enforcement, but I had already established a career in broadcasting. Becoming a reserve officer allowed me to do both jobs. Sergeant Dennis Zine introduced me to the LAPD reserve program.”
- “To help bridge the community and police department; traffic safety.”
- “I wanted to serve my community in a capacity that could actually make a difference. I was previously in a law enforcement Explorer Post, and that interest stayed.”
- “I wanted to join a respected department that would allow me to do positive police work. I have enjoyed every one of the shifts I have worked.”
- “I was successful in my career but still dreamed of becoming an LAPD officer. I was thinking of going full time when I heard about the reserve program.”
- “It is a great way of doing community service and experienc[ing] some amazing adventures.”
- “I’m a sheepdog.”
- “I was always inspired by the people that became officers and spent their careers helping society in general. I liked the idea of being one of the good guys. When Adam-12 came on, I was thrilled that the patrol guys were getting their stories told. I was also inspired by having positive interactions with LAPD officers growing up. All of this led to wanting to follow their example.”
- “I did not wish to leave my full-time job at the time. The State of California (DMV) was paying a better salary at that time. CHP Officer Ernie Garcia informed me about the LAPD reserve program.”
- Henry J. Baez said: “Being originally from the East Coast as a kid watching 1A12 with Officer Malloy and Officer Reed. LAPD always looked so professional. Once I ETS from the U.S. Army, I enrolled and obtained an aerospace engineering degree. I was working for Northrop Advanced Systems’ B-2 bomber program. An associate engineer was an LAPD reserve and invited me to LAPD orientation at Harbor Division. Shortly after, I took the written and scored 110 (100% plus 10 points for being a vet). I did my probation at ‘Shootin Newton,’ then assigned to OSB CRASH, 77th Division, Terrorism Liaison Officer, MCD, Archangel and CTSOB HQS. I relocated to Langley, Virginia, to work for the CIA, and my LAPD experience and connections helped pave the way into the U.S. intelligence community.”
- Gary Loo said: “I actually wanted to become full time initially. I saw a flyer at the Hughes Aircraft Credit Union back in the late ’80s and so I applied. What kept me from going full time was the salary. I was making far more as an engineer, but the prestige of being one of L.A.’s finest was too overwhelming to pass up. Luckily, they had the extended full-time academy then, which allowed me to keep my day job and pursue my dreams of being an LAPD officer, too. My parents immigrated from China, and my dad owned a butcher shop at the corner of Adams and Normandie. From the time I was in junior high on, I had to help out at the butcher shop after school. During those years, I experienced six robberies where I was on the other end of [a] pistol being pointed at me. And each time, I was later relieved and felt good when an LAPD officer would come take a report and [give] me the assurance that everything would be OK. I was always impressed with the responding officer’s professionalism. So that really etched into my mind, which is why I really wanted to be part of the LAPD.”
- “Chief Moore inspired me to join.”
- Bert Szathmary said: “I tried in 1962 when out of the Navy, but was disqualified as I was 5-foot-8.5 and had to be 5-foot-9. Went on in 1982–2019. Wanted to go regular, but with family, it would have been too big of a pay cut. I got to do both [things] I loved as a DL1 reserve.”
- Roger Andrews said: “I was inspired by my brother-in-law who died on duty and the support that the family received. I was also inspired by my brother who worked Hollywood at the time and then Metro/SWAT D-Team.”
- T. Ashley Harvey said: “Was in a class to become an NRA-certified and CA DOJ firearms instructor and met four officers from the LAPD Firearms Training Unit who were going through the same class. We spent time talking and getting to know one another over the weeklong class, and one of the officers — Larry Mudgett — said he thought I would make a good officer. When I told him I could not afford to quit my current job, he recommended the reserve program … In the end … I wanted to do something others were unwilling to do.”
- Paul Strauss said: “To bring my medical skills to the street, directly to the citizens of Los Angeles and indirectly by teaching patrol and specialized units how to provide medical care and the tactical medical response to active shooter events.”
- “A friend who was full time tried to recruit me to join the LAPD. At the same time, I was looking for volunteer opportunities. I stumbled across a reserve recruiting billboard and decided to see what it was about. I liked what I heard at the orientation and decided to pursue it.”
- Ernie Poulin said: “I always wanted to be able to help protect the innocent from those who would prey on the vulnerable. When I was at LACC back in the ’80s, taking real estate business and law classes, an instructor, who was also with the Department, Officer Hunt, told me about the reserve program, so I checked it out. Twenty years later, I contributed my several thousand field hours, helping to curb the violence and make the world just a little better.”
Significance of Reserve Service
Question 35 was: On a scale of 1 to 10 (swipe left to right), how significant has your service with the LAPD been in your life (being a part of the LAPD and Reserve Corps family), in terms of defining who you are or who you became?
The average answer was 80%.
Editor’s note: The survey results and recommendations are based on the feedback provided by LAPD reserve police officers and does not represent the official views or policies of the Los Angeles Police Department or the Los Angeles Police Reserve Foundation. The article is intended to provide insight into the perspectives and experiences of reserve officers participating in the survey.
1 “Reserve Cold Case Homicide Unit Established,” The Rotator newsletter, Winter 2020.