LAPD Metropolitan Division
Metropolitan Division Seal
|Agency||Los Angeles Police Department|
|Part of||Special Operations Group|
|Headquarters||2710 West Temple Street|
|Motto||"Can do, will do!"|
|Common name||Metro Division|
|Police officers||Approx. 500|
|Unsworn members||Approx. 15|
|Captain Leland G. Sands|
The Metropolitan Division, also known as Metro, is an elite division of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The Metro Division, which also contains LAPD's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, contains nine platoons of specially-trained police officers. It is tasked with numerous crime-fighting duties including solving major crimes, surveillance, providing counter-terrorism details and attending high-risk barricaded situations, such as a hostage situation.
Metro Division developed from a compact, mobile crime-fighting team formed by Chief James E. Davis in 1933. Named the Reserve Unit, it was formed to work throughout Los Angeles to specifically suppress criminal activity. By 1968 the unit was expanded from 70 officers to approximately 200 officers. In 1997, following the North Hollywood bank robbery, numbers were increased to approximately 350 sworn officers and 16 civilian support personnel.
The Reserve Unit was originally based out of Room 114 at Parker Center, the LAPD's headquarters. The code number 114 (pronounced "one-one-four") is used today to refer to the Metropolitan Division and its headquarters. Metropolitan Division headquarters, which previously shared space with LAPD Central Division in downtown Los Angeles, moved to the former LAPD Rampart Division station in 2016. The old Rampart building had been empty since 2008, when Rampart Division staff moved to new facilities. The former Rampart division station was renovated for use by Metro Division.
The Metropolitan Division's primary responsibility (other than SWAT) is to provide support to the LAPD's community-based policing efforts by deploying additional crime suppression resources throughout Los Angeles when needed. Assignments of both SWAT and Metro Division as a whole include:
- providing assistance to investigators in solving major crimes
- responding to high-risk barricaded situations
- security details
- serving warrants
- uniformed crime suppression details (crowd control)
There are four field platoons (A, B, C, and G), four specialized platoons (D, E, H and K9) and an operations platoon (M) supervised by a Lieutenant II. The Operations Platoon performs the administrative and support functions. "A", "B”, "C" and “G” Platoons are primarily responsible for crime suppression. Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), “D” Platoon personnel, respond to emergency situations involving barricaded suspects or hostages. “E” Platoon (Mounted Unit), “H” Platoon (Municipal Executives Protection Detail), “K-9” Platoon and the Underwater Dive Unit (UDU) make up the remainder of the Division. The Division also maintains a doctor, crisis negotiators and other specialists in weaponry, computer science, and audio-visual technology.
M Platoon (Command, administration, and support)
M Platoon personnel provides the support function for the Division. In addition to the administrative duties, they coordinate Metro's many tactical firearms training programs, ensure compliance with state-mandated (POST) training, and maintain the extensive Metro armory of specialized weapons. Additionally, the Crime Analysis and Deployment Detail utilizes automated repressible crime information Citywide to determine Metro deployment in identified “hot spots.”
A, B, C & G Platoons (Tactical Support Teams/Line Platoons)
A, B, C and G Platoons are primarily responsible for carrying out the crime suppression missions. Their most active function is maintaining selective enforcement details in high frequency crime areas and targeting repeat offenders and criminal predators. Particular efforts are directed to the suppression of burglary, robbery, auto theft, and burglary/theft from motor vehicle. More recently, efforts have been aimed at attacking violent repressible crime.
D Platoon (SWAT)
D Platoon is the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team of the LAPD. It provides the Department with 24-hour coverage necessary for immediate response to barricaded suspects, snipers, crisis and hostage negotiations, potential suicide-related situations, and other high-risk incidents. Rapid deployment, surprise, extensive tactics training and thorough planning are all parts of successful SWAT operations. SWAT currently operates the Lenco B.E.A.R. and two smaller Lenco BearCat and one MedCat armored rescue vehicles.
E Platoon (Mounted unit)
The "E" Platoon serves as both the LAPD's mounted police unit and the reserve unit of the Special Operations Bureau. The "E" platoon began as a volunteer/reserve officer program and was formally integrated into the Department in 1988. The platoon currently has 32 horses and is located in a state-of-the-art Ahmanson Equestrian Facility. Officers and their horses deploy on City streets or during special events and add to the Department's professional image. Beyond that, the Mounted Platoon performs crime suppression duties and responds to crowd control incidents.
Canine (K-9) Platoon
The Canine Platoon, or "K-9" Platoon deploys highly trained dog handlers and their canine partners to conduct searches and apprehend felony suspects throughout the Los Angeles area. K-9 personnel are deployed around-the-clock, seven days a week. They are available to assist any LAPD division with searches for felony suspects. Two K-9 officers have also been trained in search and rescue operations using dogs.
In 1990, the Liberty Award was created for police dogs who are killed or seriously injured in the line of duty. The medal, which is named after Liberty, a Metropolitan Division K-9 who was shot and killed in the line of duty, has only been awarded once in its history. Liberty's handler, John Hall, received the Medal of Valor for the same incident.
History of LAPD SWAT
While not the first to use specially trained units, the LAPD was the first to form a police tactical unit, and originally created the term, "Special Weapons And Tactics". John Nelson was the LAPD officer who came up with the idea to form a specially trained and equipped unit in the LAPD, intended to respond to and manage critical situations involving shootings while minimizing police casualties. In 1967, Nelson's CO, then-Inspector Daryl F. Gates approved this idea, and he formed a small select group of volunteer officers. This first SWAT unit initially consisted of fifteen teams of four men each, for a total staff of sixty. These officers were given special status and benefits. They were required to attend special monthly training. This unit also served as a security unit for police facilities during times of civil unrest.
In 1971, SWAT personnel were assigned on a full-time basis to Metropolitan Division to respond to continuing action by subversive groups, the rising crime rate and the continuing difficulty of mustering a team response in a timely manner. Metropolitan Division, which had a long-established reputation as the tactical unit of the Department, was reorganized into 6 units: "A", "B", "C", "D", "E", and "K-9" Platoons. The Special Weapons And Tactics Unit was given the designation of "D" Platoon, and at the same time formally adopted the acronym SWAT
The first significant deployment of LAPD's SWAT unit was on December 9, 1969, in a four-hour confrontation with members of the Black Panthers. The Panthers eventually surrendered, with three Panthers and three officers being injured. By 1974, there was a general acceptance of SWAT as a resource for the city and county of Los Angeles.
On April 14, 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced during the State of the City address that he would add more than 200 officers to the Metro division in an effort to control the crime rate which dramatically increased the year previously.
Black Panther Offices Raid
On December 6, 1969, two patrol officers claimed to have seen Panther members, Paul Redd, "Duck" Smith, and Geronimo Pratt, in possession of illegal firearms. Search warrants for illegal weapons were filed with the LA County Court Office were issued and served two hours before sunrise on Monday, December 9, 1969. The LAPD responded by planning a massive three-location raid involving more than 350 officers. It was decided that the previously untested SWAT unit, led by Daryl Gates and Sergeant Patrick McKinley would take the lead of the raid into the Black Panther Headquarters at 41st and Central. The Black Panthers engaged the SWAT team in a four-hour gun battle. During the shootout, the LAPD and SWAT maneuvered themselves into surrounding the Panther's headquarters as the two sides exchanged over 5,000 rounds of ammunition. The fighting resulted in the wounding of three Panthers and three SWAT officers. As the battle continued, the remaining Black Panthers realized the headquarters was surrounded in a hopeless 11-versus-hundreds fight and finally surrendered themselves to the SWAT officers. This was the debut of the SWAT team.
On the afternoon of May 17, 1974, elements of a group which called itself the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a group of heavily armed leftists, barricaded themselves in a residence on East 54th Street at Compton Avenue in Los Angeles. In response, more than 400 LAPD officers, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) deputies, California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers, and Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) firefighters surrounded the residence. Coverage of the siege was broadcast to millions via television and radio and featured in the world press for days after. Negotiations were opened with the barricaded suspects on numerous occasions, both prior to and after the introduction of tear gas. Law enforcement units did not fire until the SLA had fired several volleys of semi-automatic and fully automatic gunfire at them. In spite of the 3,772 rounds fired by the SLA, no civilians or sworn personnel sustained injury from gunfire.
During the gun battle, a fire erupted inside the residence. The cause of the fire is officially unknown, although police sources speculated that an errant round ignited one of the suspects' Molotov cocktails. Others suspect that the repeated use of tear gas grenades, which function by burning chemicals at high temperatures, started the structure fire. All six of the suspects suffered multiple gunshot wounds and perished in the ensuing blaze.
By the time of the SLA shoot-out, SWAT teams had reorganized into six 10-man teams, each team consisting of two five-man units, called elements. An element consisted of an element leader, two assaulters, a scout, and a rear-guard. The normal complement of weapons was a sniper rifle (apparently a .243-caliber bolt-action, judging from the ordnance expended by officers at the shootout), two .223-caliber semi-automatic rifles, and two shotguns. SWAT officers also carried their service revolvers in shoulder holsters. The normal gear issued them included a first aid kit, gloves, and a gas mask. In fact it was a change just to have police armed with semi-automatic rifles, at a time when officers were usually issued six-shot revolvers and shotguns. The encounter with the heavily armed Symbionese Liberation Army, however, sparked a trend towards SWAT teams being issued body armor and fully automatic weapons of various types.
1997 North Hollywood shootout
The North Hollywood shootout was an armed confrontation between two heavily armed and armored bank robbers, Larry Eugene Phillips, Jr. and Emil Matasareanu, and both SWAT and patrol officers in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California on February 28, 1997. It began when responding North Hollywood Division patrol officers engaged Phillips and Matasareanu leaving a bank which the two men had just robbed. Eleven officers and seven civilians sustained injuries before both robbers were killed. Phillips and Matasareanu had robbed several banks prior to their attempt in North Hollywood and were notorious for their heavy armament, which included automatic rifles. LAPD patrol officers, like most at the time, were typically armed with a 9mm Beretta on their person, with a 12-gauge shotgun available in their cars (only SWAT officers were regularly equipped with automatic weapons). Phillips and Matasareanu carried fully automatic AK-47 rifles, with ammunition capable of penetrating regular police body armor, and wore full body armor of their own. Since most handgun calibers cannot penetrate body armor, patrol officers had a significant disadvantage until LAPD SWAT arrived with equivalent firepower and body armor; they also appropriated several semi-automatic rifles from a nearby firearms dealer to help even the odds, though by the time this began to happen, SWAT had already arrived. The incident sparked debate on the appropriate firepower for patrol officers to have available in similar situations in the future.
First officer fatality
Randal David Simmons
|Died||February 7, 2008 (aged 51)|
Winnetka, California, U.S.
|Department||Los Angeles Police Department|
|Rank||Sworn in as an officer - 1981|
- Police Officer III
- Police Officer III+1
Randal "Randy" David Simmons (July 22, 1956 – February 7, 2008) was the first member of the Los Angeles Police Department's SWAT team to be killed in the line of duty in its 40-year history (although an officer died in a training accident in 1998). He was shot and killed in Winnetka, California during a standoff with a barricaded suspect. He was among five deaths, including three civilians and the suspect, that day. Another SWAT officer, James Veenstra, was also injured in the same incident.
Simmon's funeral, which was attended by nearly 10,000 mourners including law enforcement personnel from all over the world, was the largest police officer funeral in both Los Angeles and United States history. Simmons, who was a 27-year LAPD veteran, had been with SWAT for more than 20 years.
To honor his legacy, the Metropolitan Division Randal Simmons Explorer Post 114 was named and dedicated after his death to continue his youth outreach work.
Officers Simmons was also mentioned as a source of inspiration behind character Officer Jones' reason for joining the LAPD, in the TV series Southland. In the "Underwater" episode, Jones answers a question why he became a cop: "There was a SWAT Officer that came and spoke to our school. Randy Simmons. Something about the way dude carried himself stuck with me."
Media representations of LAPD SWAT
The SWAT police unit quickly became well known in the short-lived television series SWAT in the 1970s. In 2003, the film adaptation of the series starred Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell and LL Cool J, and was directed by Clark Johnson. The film was a success at the box office.
The SWAT series of computer games, created by Sierra Entertainment and developed by Vivendi Universal and Irrational Games, started off as an interactive movie follow up of the Police Quest series, which was narrated by retired LAPD Chief Daryl Gates, and was continued as a real-time strategy game, and then three first person shooters similar to the Rainbow Six series. All but the most recent one, SWAT 4, have featured endorsements from the LAPD.
Metro SWAT was well known once more when, in 2017, CBS created a new series called S.W.A.T. with former Criminal Minds star Shemar Moore, which is a spin-off of the 2003 movie. The show follows the daily life of the Metro SWAT officers and the work that they have to deal with.
The MacArthur Park rallies were two May Day rallies demanding amnesty for illegal immigrants  which occurred on May 1, 2007, at MacArthur Park. Six hundred police officers, including Metropolitan Division officers from "B" and "C" Platoons, were tasked with crowd control. When protesters began blocking city streets, the crowd was ordered to disperse; the orders were given in English to a crowd of mostly Spanish speaking demonstrators. A significant portion of the crowd did disperse on these commands while police officers formed a line and advanced slowly to clear the area. The officers proceeded about 50 feet at a time, allowing those complying with the dispersal order to retreat. Officers were attacked with plastic bottles, rocks and other projectiles, and responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons, with approximately 146 foam-rubber projectiles fired. Twenty-seven marchers and nine members of the media were injured, five people were arrested, and at least fifty civilians filed complaints with the LAPD regarding mistreatment by officers. A $13 million settlement was paid over allegations of civil rights violations. Seventeen officers and two sergeants from the Metropolitan Division would eventually be disciplined for their actions.
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Perry and Hall exited the house, but were shot by officers who concluded they were trying to kill police rather than surrender.
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The legal and cultural fallout of the crime had to do with just how much firepower the cops should be carrying, if outlaws find it so easy to purchase AK-47s at gun shows.
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Los Angeles Police Officer Randal Simmons was remembered in a tearful, three-hour ceremony attended by nearly 10,000 people, most of them police and other law enforcement officers. The funeral was the largest in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department. The officer's death hits a nerve. Residents line streets, and TV stations carry his funeral.[dead link]
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