Bi-monthly Newsletter No. 12 July/August 2005


Partners Part III

The Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union

By: William L. Rinehart, Chairman

In post-prohibition and post-depression Los Angeles, members of the Department were looking for a way to safely grow their wealth. Fears from the not long ago crash of the stock market caused many to worry about the loss of their savings. Nonetheless, 1936 saw a group of officers band together to found your credit union. With each of seven officers contributing five dollars apiece, the first known police credit union operated from a cigar box. Still, the officers knew

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their savings were secure as their holdings were safeguarded by fellow officers. As word spread, the cigar box began to overflow, and a more formal, secure and permanent location was found in downtown Los Angeles. For decades the offices of the Police Credit Union were located in downtown, including a stint inside Parker Center. As the department grew, so did the credit union. Branching out first to the San Fernando Valley, then to the Elysian Park academy, the credit union’s expansion mirrored that of the Department. But it wasn’t just departmental growth that brought about credit union expansion. Technology also played a key role. As electronic banking gained popularity, the credit union incorporated this technology into its operations. Noted first in the presence of automated teller machines, the credit union’s electronic banking options are now numerous. From web-based account access via PATROL and electronic deposits via payroll deduction to automated bill paying and electronic loan applications, the credit union offers the most current electronic banking services to its members. A banking institution that has grown from a cigar box to a 647 million dollar operation has clearly benefited from expert oversight and governance. Steven Endaya presently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the credit union. It is, and has been, his responsibility to lead the day-to-day operations of the credit union. Steven, who also serves as a director of the historical

society, has been responsible for many of the key advancements the credit union has experienced. Since the credit union remains member-owned (now 42,000 members, not just seven) a board of directors governs the operation of the credit union. Just as the original seven depositors started the credit union, today’s board of directors ensures its future. Recently retired Deputy Chief James McMurray currently presides over the board of directors. Detective III Tyler Izen began as a credit union volunteer and now assists Chief McMurray as the vice-chairman. Each has a long history of volunteer efforts that have contributed to the overwhelming success that is today’s credit union.

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If asked, both would attribute the credit union’s success to the hard work of the staff and volunteers. Just as the Department enjoys its own history, the LAPM staff recently uncovered a small piece of credit union history. Piggy banks undoubtedly have taken all forms during the course of time. At one point, the credit union tried to encourage savings through a paper piggy bank. This savings campaign encouraged saving one dime at a time. Once thirty dimes were collected in the slots of the paper piggy bank, it was time to make the substantial three dollar deposit. This was an admirable savings effort at the time. Unfortunately today’s thirty dimes might not even get you that fancy cup of morning coffee. Besides enjoying a common history, the historical society has been fortunate to have the credit union as a partner. From sponsoring photo exhibits to assisting with the annual Jack Webb awards, the credit union has been there to back us both personally and financially. Like those first deposits in the cigar box, the partnership has now grown into one of mutual respect and value. The credit union will continue to provide safety for its members’ finances and when they’re ready we will provide a safe place for that historic cigar box.


What’s Happening
at Old Number 11

By: Glynn Martin,
Executive Director

History is more about what has happened rather than what is happening. It certainly isn’t about what is going to happen. This time around we will touch on all three areas, then, now and tomorrow. It seems appropriate to handle our subject, the city jail, that way, as recent discussions have encompassed all three aspects of time. From deep in our history, we know the first city jail was on Fort Moore Hill. As to be expected, the building was adobe. The unexpected details reveal that it was without dedicated cells which also meant there were no cell bars. When looking for the first city jail that offered cells and bars, history would take you to Second Street between Spring and Broadway where a brick portion of the old city hall was used to house prisoners. This story, has more to do with some more recent, and equally historic jails. With its December 1931 opening, the Los Angeles City Jail, a six-story structure erected at 401 North Avenue 19, expanded the jail capacity immensely.

reduction of sentence under our parole system.” The yearbook further states, “Inmates who do not volunteer for work are kept under the constant observation of a jailor who notes their conduct and their adaptability to the rules and routine of the jail.” And finally, “Those who strenuously object to the rules or regulations are placed in the disciplinary department, and those who commit a breach of discipline are placed in an individual cell and their meals reduced from three to two per day.” For the female inmates, work was limited to the inside of the jail. Sewing machines were operated by inmates, “Salvaging worn out blankets and

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converting them into waist length jackets for use of the male prisoners working on outside gangs in cool weather.” As much as the yearbook tells us, though, our photo archives point to some other functions that went on inside the jail. From these photos, it appears that men and women inmates alike were able to attend to their hairstyles. We also know that inmates prepared their own meals. It is clear from a recent donation that it wasn’t just the prisoners who could eat at the jail. After touring the museum recently, Carrie Gabriel donated a set of tumblers from the Graybar Grill. The logo depicted the city jail. This went along well with an imprinted ashtray of the same name. Carrie spent more than thirty-five years with the City and her kind donation has been encased and included in


our own jail exhibit. Within days, Nan Aleman, a retired Policewoman paid the museum a visit. She too donated some pieces of history culled from the city jail. Three signs that once hung in the jail had been in her care for quite some time. One of them tells us that the ashtrays weren’t meant for the inmates, “NO SMOKING by Prisoners.” The second sign was an admonishment to officers entering the jail, “Deposit Gun Retain Key.” The final sign in the collection reads, “All persons conducting business at this desk shall present positive identification by order of the Chief of Police.” This sign has found a new home, suspended in the museum’s sergeant’s desk. With two thoughtful donations related to the City jail arriving within days of one another, we certainly believed this topic would quietly fade out. Lieutenant Rick Demartino visited us in the days following. Lt. Demartino was attempting to locate some older photographs of jail division when he shared with us a piece of our history. Unfortunately it is a tragic chapter in our history. And one I hope the former California governor has grown to regret. Jimmy Lee Smith, who was convicted of the March 1963 murder of Officer Ian Campbell in a rural onion field was recently brought to jail division after his arrest on heroin charges. Smith, who originally received the death sentence received a commutation that eventually led to his parole in the eighties. Lt. Demartino interviewed Smith at jail division.
Smith, now 74 is shown with Lt. Demartino. The other photograph shows Smith held at gunpoint during his capture in a Bakersfield rooming house shortly after Campbell’s murder. We recently added a plaque to the museum’s onion field exhibit honoring Officer Campbell. We will hope that this most recent offense will ensure a lengthy incarceration for Smith. Smith is one of many

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of the notorious who have passed through the doors of the various city jails. It is certain that some that went through the old Lincoln Heights jail also made their way into the “Glass House” at Parker Center. For the truly ambitious offender there will be an opportunity to visit an even newer Los Angeles City Jail. The current jail is scheduled to expand in the near future. Using additional space to the west of the current jail, a new jail facility will be constructed to address the need for additional room to house inmates.

Like the current facility, prisoners will only remain in the jail until they are arraigned, OR’d or make bail, just as it is today. This means there won’t be any opportunities to turn blankets into coats, coif another inmate’s hair or cook. In fact bad behavior won’t factor into an inmate’s feeding schedule. The only deterrent to eating will be the food itself. Through this story of the old city jail, the current Parker Center jail and the future metropolitan jail, the historical society again has been the beneficiary of those who seek to preserve our history through their own kindness and thoughtfulness. We extend our thanks to each of you who contributed to the museum and this article.

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