Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
They are building a new, young, military Police Department for Los Angeles these days with the men who helped to win the war on foreign battlefields and in the sky making up its backbone.
Already there are more than 1,000 new police officers who once were G.I.’s An additional 1,175 are authorized by the City Council.
“We’re going to have a young and strong Police Department,” Joseph F. Reed, assistant chief of police, said yesterday, “but it will take us at least five years to make professional career officers of the same caliber as the older and more experienced men who gradually are attaining retirement age.”
The Times focused on five men: Sgt. Johnny Williams of the Navy, a Silver Star recipient who was an instructor at the Police Academy; Leland Schmidt of the Marines, wounded at Saipan and Iwo Jima, who was a traffic accident investigator; Dick Funkhouser, a B-17 pilot who spent six months at Stalag Luft No. 1 and was a motorcycle officer; Larry Toole, an Army Air Forces pilot who was walking a beat in skid row; and George Audet, an Army engineer, who became a motorcycle officer.
The influx of so many veterans made a powerful transformation in the LAPD in terms of discipline, attitude and professionalism. (Recruits received extra points on their entrance exams for military service). But many officers, especially in later years, complained that it was run too much like the military, especially in terms of community relations.
In addition, the returning veterans forced the department to either absorb or dismiss many “Wartime Emergency” officers who were hired under relaxed standards. Like most employers, the department was required to hire men who had left for military service, but there was wide sentiment in the community for retaining those who had served in their absence and it was years before some hard feelings were dispelled.
The Times failed to mention another returning veteran, former Army Capt. William H. Parker, who was appointed to the rank of inspector as head of the Traffic Division in 1947.