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The Origin of the LAPD Motto

In February 1955, the Los Angeles Police Department, through the pages of the internally produced BEAT magazine, conducted a contest for a motto for the police academy. The conditions of the contest stated that: "The motto should be one that in a few words would express some or all the ideals to which the Los Angeles police service is dedicated. It is possible that the winning motto might someday be adopted as the official motto of the Department."

The winning entry was the motto, "To Protect and to Serve" submitted by Officer Joseph S. Dorobek.

"To Protect and to Serve" became the official motto of the Police Academy, and it was kept constantly before the officers in training as the aim and purpose of their profession. With the passing of time, the motto received wider exposure and acceptance throughout the department.

On November 4, 1963, the Los Angeles City Council passed the necessary ordinance and the credo has now been placed alongside the City Seal on the Department’s patrol cars.

(Reprinted from BEAT magazine, December 1963)