Life in the LAPD: Not all it could be

LAPD horse patrol on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles. LA Observed

For a Column One story in the LA Times, reporter Joel Rubin and photographer Brian Van der Brug embedded with a class of recruits at the LAPD academy a few years ago. About a quarter of the would-be cops washed out or dropped out before graduation. Of the rest — including a 46-year-old! — a surprising number (to me) have quit to leave the business or take a job at a smaller police department. The online package includes video. Sample of the story:

After finishing their rookie years, Lopez and Bell did mandatory stints in the department's jails and then were sent to new assignments as full-fledged cops. Bell went to the 77th Street Division, one of the city's roughest, as a patrol officer. Lopez joined the department's South Bureau Traffic Division, where officers deal mostly with car accidents and driving violations.

They realized early on that the academy had prepared them only to a point.

No amount of role-playing with paint-pellet guns could have taught Lopez how to control the adrenaline that coursed through her as she chased a man with a gun into the courtyard of a housing project on her first foot pursuit.

And nothing the drill instructors said could have readied Bell for the day he responded to the scene of a stabbing and found a woman had taken a knife to her sister's face because they were from rival gangs.

"I stopped asking 'Why?' a while ago," Bell said in an interview recently. "You can't if you want to do this job. There is no way to understand why and how people do the things that they do. You just have to accept that it is happening and that it will keep happening."

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