Bi-monthly Newsletter No. 20

November/December 2006


Is Santa Wearing Motor Boots?

By: Glynn Martin Executive Director

Stories of cops coming to the rescue are nothing new. History has witnessed officers running into burning buildings, hanging from the sides of buildings and dodging immense hails of gunfire to save members of the public. Acts of bravery and heroism are etched in our recent and not-so recent past. It’s about this time of year, however, much of the Department’s heroics seem to take on a different flavor. Fires, floods and earthquakes seem to recede while goodwill and good tidings emerge. For every officer that has braved a natural or man-made disaster, we have a collection who have spread goodwill and good tidings. The spirit of the holidays runs deep. So deep that this year’s festivities consume a two-page spreadsheet. And those are just the ones that are planned. In so many of years past, tragedy has befallen a family and collections are taken. Gifts are purchased or replaced through the contributions of concerned officers. Whether done with beneficent forethought or instantaneous improvisation, members of the Department have always served as heroes of the holidays. Fifty years ago, The Beat featured a photo of Santa Claus passing off a gift to a smiling child. While the picture is certainly worth many words, the brief caption also speaks volumes. “This Christmas, as in years past, a white-bearded Santa, Los Angeles Police Officer, will bring joy to the underprivileged children of our community. Helping others is a Departmental habit,” read the December 1956 edition. It was in these years that dolls were produced at the women’s jail for donations to hundreds of youngsters. Even earlier, the Department involved itself with holiday giving. From the December 1949 Beat, we find a story about the Fifth Annual Christmas Party of the Scouters’ Association. “Because policemen (remember this is 1949) have a tender spot in their hearts for all children, this traditional party had its beginning. It is a sincere desire on the part of officers who are Scout leaders to entertain the hundreds of children who come, a gesture of peace and good will,” it reads.

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The following year, a uniformed sergeant and his wife are featured on The Beat cover delivering toys to the Bide-A-Wee home. The supporting text explains that numerous groups including the Police Officers Wives’ Club, the Square Club and the Anchor Club all participate in charitable giving during the holiday season. Of their own accord officers do things like collect and repair broken toys and assist families on their beats and in their districts. It was during these times that a photograph of Santa was captured at the academy; one of our own distributing gifts. A not so rare occurrence. We do have some uncertainties about the outfit. Presumably the clothing is the proper and festive red and white, but how about the foot wear. Is Santa wearing motor boots? While each of you is enjoying this great photo, we hope your enjoyment will extend through the entire holiday season. The Directors, Governors, staff and volunteers of the historical society thank you for your continuing support as we wish you a safe and prosperous new year. Please think about those who are still serving with the following passage from the December, 1950 Beat,” Police Officers work harder and longer hours during the holidays than at any other season of the year. In giving of ourselves to ensure the happiness and welfare of others, we make our greatest contribution to the Spirit of Christmas.”


What’s Happening at
Old Number 11

By: Glynn Martin Executive Director
There are so many communities within the City of Los Angeles that have their very own names and identities. Certainly the top of the list is Hollywood. Then there are other famous spots like Venice, Watts, San Pedro, East LA and the like. Here at the museum, we are surrounded by a grouping of smaller, but also named areas like Mt. Washington, Garvanza, Hermon, and of course Highland Park. A short jaunt down the street will land you in Eagle Rock, or one of the many parks…..Cypress, Elysian, Griffith or one that has recently gained some notoriety, Echo Park. It seems a famous detective, albeit a fictional one, has put this little corner of LA on the map. Not necessarily through local efforts, though. This recent fame came via the Big Apple. The efforts of Detective Harry Bosch, as detailed in the novel Echo Park, zipped through the bestseller list of the New York Times. From their perch high on the list, Harry and his creator and chronicler, Author Michael Connelly brought Echo Park to the historical society museum in early December. With Chief Bratton and his talented wife looking on, Michael gracefully explained Harry’s return and his most recent investigative undertakings. A substantial crowd engaged Michael for a lively question and answer session prior to a lengthy book signing. A considerable number of active and retired members of the Department turned out for this enjoyable and informative evening. Much of the success of this event can be attributed the efforts of a few. First and foremost was Michael Connelly. Michael volunteered his time to lend support to the historical society’s cause. Newly retired Captain Greg Meyer coordinated the efforts and ensured its success. Dave Dalton, Iris Caplan, Cal Drake, Margie Regan, Gustie Bell and Angie Roman donated their time to assist with the many operations.

Detective Rick Jackson and Sergeant Wayne Debord also took time out to assist us. We thank them all, and hope Harry will stop by the next time he is in the neighborhood. The book signing was a fitting wrap-up to another prosperous and productive year at the historical society. The society was fortunate to offer three special events this year. Our two smaller scale productions, the screening in February and the December book signing were less formal affairs. The Jack Webb awards dinner was a much larger and more formal event. Each of them allowed us to reach out to our membership while providing support to the programs at the museum and historical society. Our Jack Webb recipients, Cynthia Brown, Russ Colvin and Michael Connelly, three longtime friends of law enforcement, were deserving of this honor and remain actively involved with the historical society. Since our primary purpose is the full-time operation of the LAPD museum, we continue to collect interesting material from our past. Some truly notable items have made their way to the museum recently. Thanks to some folks at Metropolitan division we acquired a series of old watch commander’s tablets that contain some great entries. Along with the tablets came a log book of Metro OIS’s from many years ago. Great reading and an interesting sampling of days gone by. Another slice of Metro history was dropped off recently. A pair of original newspapers from the day after the SLA shootout were donated to support our SLA efforts. This chapter of our history will be revisited in the near future on the Discovery Channel. Post-production is underway on a documentary focusing on the 54th street shootout. Retired SWAT officers Ron McCarthy and Al Preciado provided insightful and articulate interviews for the program, as did retired CCS Lt. Bill Heins. Look for these accomplished

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professionals to share their story toward the end of February (more to follow). Another from our list of tenured and accomplished professionals, Detective Jerry Brooks, forwarded a Detective’s log book from the 1940’s, and no it is not Jerry’s first log book. The book was maintained by a Captain whose handwriting was distinct and undoubtedly time consuming. This gave us a glimpse into the way forgery investigations were handled in World War II era Los Angeles. One of Jerry’s associates also came to our aid with a more modern contribution recently. Bob Kraus provided us with a much needed back-up drive for our collection of digital images. This thoughtful donation means we can safely store a secondary archive of digital images which is now substantial and grows weekly. Our thanks to all of these folks who continue to think of us and render vital assistance. Closing out the calendar year means we will be headed into a new year, with new plans. There are a number of great projects coming together for 2007. In terms of museum exhibits, we expect two significant ones to reach completion this year. The development of the executive level of the museum is well on its way to completion. Two galleries, one featuring police chiefs of the past, and the other featuring the history of police commissioners will be the residents of the top floor of the facility.

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Greg Meyer converses with author Michael Connelly and Chief Bratton.

Outside, we hope to complete a shelter for our vehicles, providing our historic fleet with some relief from the elements and the neighbors. A key piece of our historic fleet is also scheduled for a makeover this year. After some successful fundraising efforts, the 1955 Paddy Wagon is being prepped for its return to roadworthiness. John Maxey continues to move this project along with great alacrity. With his talented help, we look for look forward to unveiling this restored beauty in the coming year. Just as the City is a collective of many smaller communities, so too is the historical society. Whether member, donor, Governor, Director, staff or volunteer it takes all of these smaller elements to operate, grow and develop the museum. For all who have chosen to support or assist us during the year, we extend our thanks and our best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. Greg Meyer converses with author Michael Connelly and Chief Bratton.