Emergency Services Division
Counter Terrorism/Criminal Intelligence Bureau
2029 North Main Street
Los Angeles, California 90031
The Hazardous Materials Unit (HMU) is a highly-specialized team of police officers from varying LAPD and other related backgrounds. The team is comprised of nine Hazardous Material (Hazmat) technicians.
The HMU is an integral component of the Department’s counter-terrorism response capability, specializing in both weapons of mass destruction and the identification of unknown materials or agents that may pose a threat. Unit members receive training and develop skills to identify potential biological pathogens, chemical-weapon agents and radiological materials.
All members of the Unit are trained and certified at the Technician/Specialist level, the highest level of training offered for hazmat emergency responders in the State of California. This training is provided by the California Specialized Training Institute, Office of Emergency Services, State of California. The Unit is also responsible for providing all Department personnel with "Hazardous Materials, First Responder Awareness" training which focuses on important safety procedures when dealing with hazardous materials incidents.
The HMU is called upon to conduct in-depth criminal investigations, sometimes in contaminated, life-threatening environments. Unit members collect and preserve evidence required for successful criminal prosecutions, complete follow-up investigations, prepare reports, and can present investigative results to prosecuting attorneys for criminal filing consideration.
In the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) arena, the HMU is also a component of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) which includes personnel from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies responsible for investigating domestic terrorism involving Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) WMDs. The HMU’s function in the JTTF is to protect the public by surveying with specialized equipment, identifying potential WMDs, and conducting evidence searches in “hot zones” (areas with potentially high levels of exposure/contamination).
At a local level, the Unit is a primary member of the Joint-Hazard Assessment Team (JHAT). The JHAT is comprised of personnel from the Los Angeles Fire Department and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The primary role of the JHAT is to coordinate response and facilitate multi-agency coordination of incidents that involve the use or potential use of chemical, biological, or radiological materials.
Hazardous Materials Unit personnel have completed extensive training in CBRN/WMD operations, including "live" Chemical Warfare Nerve Agent training at the United States Army's Chemical Defense Training Facility, Fort McClellan, Alabama. Additionally, Hazmat technicians attend 27 core training courses focusing on WMD, environmental crimes, chemistry, and hazardous materials transportation enforcement.