Blast from the Past “A Major Move by the LAPD”: Reserve Crime Suppression Unit a Big Success (Originally published in the Spring 2008 issue of The Rotator)

Editor’s note: The first Rotator newsletter uploaded online was the spring 2008 issue. Here is the cover story published 16 years ago on a Reserve Officer Crime Suppression operation, which was a “major move by the LAPD” at the time, and the results of that task force.

Forty-one reserve officers, from all over the city, came to the Hollywood Area on April 5 — Saturday night — as the LAPD launched its Reserve Officer Crime Suppression Unit, a new task force set up by the Office of Operations, to help address crime and quality of-life issues for city residents. KABC-TV News, filing a live report at the scene, called it “a major move by the LAPD.”

The focus of the task force on this Saturday night was the Hollywood “Box” — the area between La Brea Boulevard to Vine Street and Franklin Avenue to Sunset Boulevard — which has been responsible for approximately 25 percent of the Area’s Part 1 crimes. In the several weeks preceding the task force, the “Box” had experienced increased robberies, burglaries and grand thefts from motor vehicles.

The idea for a Department-wide crime suppression unit manned by reserve officers occurred when Lieutenant Craig Herron ran into Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger, Director and Commanding Officer of the Office of Operations, at a recruitment event. Lieutenant Herron proposed how the reserves could help put a meaningful dent in crime numbers if they could be deployed as a task force on a specific crime problem. Within hours, Lieutenant Herron was contacted by Captain Eric Davis and the project was on.

Roll call in Hollywood was at 1700 hours. Officers were briefed on the “Box” as well as on other locations considered for extra patrol. Hollywood is home to a large number of bars and clubs, all very busy on weekends. Intelligence had reported possible gang activity at several of the clubs. A supervisor advised officers to watch for unsavory characters on Hollywood Boulevard that, as experience has shown, might be targeting tourists. Hollywood Operations Captain Bea Girmala reminded everyone that officer safety is always first and foremost.

All levels of reserves were involved. A total of 20 units were deployed. A few officers hit the street using the Department’s brand-new T3 “three-wheel.” Back at the station, officers monitored a wall of video screens, each receiving live feed from cameras stationed throughout the Area. If criminal activity is spotted, a call can be immediately placed to the field so officers can respond.

The L.A. Times ran an article on the task force, placed on the front of its local news section. Officers conducted multiple traffic stops, not unlike the summer-time boulevard task forces. Among the stops noted was on a Chrysler 300 for running a red light. “The car’s interior was bedecked with multiple television screens and other expensive custom toys.” The driver had a suspended license and there was $60,000 in warrants. Officers arrested him and impounded the car. Readers could see a slide show on the Times’ website.

The task force provided a great opportunity for the community to see reserve officers in action. The press marveled that reserve officers for the Los Angeles Police Department are held to the same standards and must graduate from the same academy as regular, full-time officers.

HWD Area Operations Captain Girmala briefs the reserve task force on the mission. A total of 41 reserve officers participated, deploying 20 units into the field.

“There’s only one way you get an LAPD badge,” Reserve Officer Eric Rose told them, “And that’s if you go through the academy.”

Reserve Officer Paul Martinez, a 25-year veteran of the LAPD, found his T3 “three-wheel,” equipped with lights and siren, particularly useful. It was like a modified foot-beat: “It was very effective for OBS — we spotted a lot of missing front license plates.” His partner WTD Reserve Officer Joe Gomez wrote about 10 tickets for the night.

In the end, the tally was 10 moving violations, 13 non-moving violations, 24 parking citations, eight FIs, three vehicle impounds and one RFC — all within about a four- to five-hour period. The Area’s Part I crimes were reduced by approximately 50 percent in the box area compared to both prior Saturdays during that particular time. Reserve officers participating came from ASD, Devonshire, DSVD, Foothill, Harbor, Hollenbeck, Hollywood, Newton, North Hollywood, OCB, Rampart, Southwest, Training, Van Nuys, WTD, West Valley and Wilshire.

Captain Girmala, who has worked with reserve officers in Hollywood and elsewhere for many years, both as a partner and then as a watch commander, said: “When we say reserve officers are ‘twice the citizen,’ operations like this task force underscore the Reserve Corps’ selflessness, commitment and contribution. Hollywood was indeed fortunate to be the recipient of each reserve officer’s dedication to protect and serve.”

Assistant Chief Paysinger said: “The outstanding work of our reserve officers during the recent Hollywood Task Force shows their remarkable dedication to service. The men and women of the LAPD are truly blessed to have the greatest Reserve Corps of any police agency in the country. I have every expectation of inviting them to join us again, and I have no doubt that they will.”