The first specific Los Angeles police force was founded in 1853, as the Los Angeles Rangers, a volunteer force that assisted the existing County forces. The Rangers were soon succeeded by the Los Angeles City Guards, another volunteer group. Neither force was particularly efficient and Los Angeles became known for its violence, gambling and vice.
The first paid force was created in 1869, when six officers were hired to serve under City Marshal William C. Warren. By 1900, under John M. Glass, there were 70 officers, one for every 1,500 people. In 1903, with the start of the Civil Service, this force was increased to 200. The CBS radio show Calling All Cars hired LAPD radio dispacher Jesse Rosenquist to be the voice of the dispatcher. Rosenquist was already famous because home radios could tune in to early police radio frequencies. As the first police radio dispatcher presented to the public ear, he was the voice that actors went to when called upon for a radio dispatcher role.
During World War II, under Clemence B. Horrall, the overall number of personnel was depleted by the demands of the military. Despite efforts to maintain numbers, the police could do little to control the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots. Horrall was replaced by retired United States Marine Corps general William A. Worton, who acted as interim chief until 1950, when William H. Parker succeeded him and would serve until his death in 1966. Parker advocated police professionalism and autonomy from civilian administration. However, the Bloody Christmas scandal in 1951 led to calls for civilian accountability and an end to alleged police brutality. The iconic television series Dragnet, with LAPD Detective Joe Friday as the primary character, was the first major media representation of the department. Real LAPD operations inspired Jack Webb to create the series and close cooperation with department officers let him make it as realistic as possible, including authentic police equipment and sound recording on-site at the police station.
Under Parker, LAPD created the first SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team in United States law enforcement. Officer John Nelson and then-Inspector Daryl Gates created the program in 1965 to deal with threats from radical organizations such as the Black Panther Party operating during the Vietnam War era. The old headquarters for the LAPD was Parker Center, named after former chief William H. Parker, which still stands at 150 N. Los Angeles St. The new headquarters is 300 yards (270 m) west in the purpose built Police Administration Building located at 100 W. 1st St., immediately south of Los Angeles City Hall, which officially opened in October 2009
The majority of the LAPD’s approximately 10,000 officers are assigned within the Office of Operations, whose primary office is located in the new Police Administration Building. An Assistant Chief, currently First Assistant Chief Michel Moore, commands the office, and reports directly to the chief of police. The LAPD Office of Operations comprises 21 police stations, known officially as “areas” but also commonly referred to as “divisions”.
The Office of Operations also comprises COMPSTAT (Computer Statistics) which maintains crime data. It holds regular weekly meetings within a purpose-built suite in the new Police Administration Building with the Chief of Police and senior officers. COMPSTAT is based on the NYPD CompStat unit that was created in 1994 by former LAPD Chief William Bratton, while he was still a NYPD Police Commissioner. He implemented the LAPD version on becoming Chief of Police in 2002. The 21 police stations or “divisions” are grouped geographically into four command areas, each known as a “bureau”. The latest areas, “Olympic” and “Topanga”, were added on January 4, 2009