Reserve Cold Case Homicide Unit Established

Reserve Police Officer Greig Smith updated The Rotator on the status of the newly formed unit.

Greig Smith became the first reserve police officer to work in the elite Robbery-Homicide Unit (RHD). After screening cold case homicides for a few years, the lieutenant suggested he go to LAPD’s Detective School and be certified. Then, RHD would let him work full detective duties with his own cases. In 2016, Greig solved a 16-year-old case and was IO in court, getting a conviction.[1]

In 2018, RHD was downsized, and the captain eliminated the Cold Case Unit.

In mid-2019, then-Commander Kris Pitcher became the Chief of Detectives. Officer Smith went to see him about an idea he had to utilize reserve officers in concert with retired detectives who were now reserves and create an all-reserve Cold Case Homicide Unit. He loved the idea and asked Smith to put together an action plan. In August 2019, Deputy Chief Pitcher approved the project and said he wanted the unit fully operational by April 1, 2020. With the support of Captain Aaron Ponce and his staff, an offering was sent to reserve officers Department-wide: an opening for six positions to reserves, and six positions to retired full-time now reserves.

Over 30 officers applied for the 12 slots. All applicants had to file an official request to transfer, team history and go through a full interview by two RHD detectives and one lieutenant.

The following officers (at press time) have been selected and broken into detective teams: Jose Espinoza, John McCarthy, Ismael Moreno, Craig Pfefferman, Kevin Pulsipher and Adam Ripp will join retired LAPD’s Tim Marcia, Luis Rivera, Charles Knolls, Jose Espinoza. Jeri Weinstein and Smith. The new unit assigned Detective III Mitzi Roberts as the OIC, and with the support of new RHD Captain Jonathan Tippet, Reserve Officers Steve Fazio and Kashy Dowlatsahi were added.

In August, all officers attended a specially created Cold Case Homicide Detective School. Officers were broken into partner teams with retired detectives as the senior lead detective of each team.

On Tuesday, September 9, the unit became fully operational, marking a rare moment in LAPD history in which a unit is comprised entirely of reserve officers, just as was done with the Reserve Motors Unit in the early 2000s, and more recently, the Reserve Dignitary Protection Unit. Separately, at press time, the LAPRF was making arrangements to fund a Basic Detective Course for reserve officers, an opportunity to gain knowledge and training regarding the processes related to detective investigations. The class was being scheduled for early December.