Sworn Police Officer Class Titles and Job Descriptions

Rank Structure

The following list represents the various class titles of sworn LAPD police officers. For a description of the job duties for each class title, read below:

Police Officer

Police Officers comprise the largest number of sworn officers in the Department. The Police Officer rank is divided into three paygrade advancement ranks: Police Officer I, II and III. A Police Officer I is a probationary officer who automatically advances to Police Officer II upon successful completion of his/her probationary period. A Police Officer may be assigned to a foot beat, a black and white patrol car, bicycle patrol, Mounted Unit, a two-wheel motorcycle or a specialized unit such as S.W.A.T. or K-9 Unit. Normally, when a police recruit graduates from the Police Academy, he/she is assigned to a geographic patrol division within the City and is considered as a probationary officer and placed under the supervision of a higher ranking officer, normally a Police Officer III Field Training Officer. A probationary Police Officer assigned to a patrol unit performs basic duties such as:

Responding to the scene of a crime or an accident
Interviewing suspects, witnesses
Writing crime reports
Responding to radio calls
Monitoring any suspicious activity of ongoing crimes
Coordinating vehicular traffic
Visiting open businesses such as banks, markets, department stores, service stations, and other types to establish a rapport with owners
Booking suspects and evidence and transporting them to the appropriate Police Department facility
Responding to citizens’ and visitors’ questions
Preparing Daily Field Activity Reports
Attending and coordinating neighborhood watch meetings
Performing numerous other activities in support of the community policing philosophy

A Police Officer assigned to a specialized division or as a Desk Officer performs all of the aforementioned duties in addition to performing duties that are unique to these specialized divisions. For example, a Police Officer may be assigned to Juvenile Narcotics Division to conduct undercover narcotics investigations or patrol the school area to monitor criminal activity and to maintain liaison with the school officials. In addition, a Police Officer may be assigned to a two-wheel motorcycle unit to enforce traffic laws, investigate traffic accidents, cite the violators of traffic laws, appear in the court, search for drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and maintain order in congested areas. A Police Officer may also serve as a helicopter pilot or an observer in Air Support Division and provide assistance to ground units.

A Police Officer II or III may also serve as a Vice Investigator, Instructor at the Police Academy, Detective Trainee, Legislative Officer, News Media Coordinator, Range Officer, Recruitment Officer, Driver-Security Aide to the Chief of Police and the Mayor of the City, Senior Lead Officer, Unusual Occurrence Planning Officer, or numerous other positions within the Police Department. The opportunities available to a Police Officer within the LAPD are so diverse, they are too numerous to mention on this web page.

Police Detective

The class title of a Police Detective within the Police Department is assigned to specialized functions of criminal investigations. At present, there are three Detective ranks within the Police Department: Detective I, II and III. The Detective II and III are supervisory positions and are responsible for training and overseeing the activities of Detectives I and Police Officers. A Detective is often assigned to a specialized division and is responsible for responding to the scenes of crimes, conducting preliminary and follow-up investigations, preparing the required investigative reports, preparing a biopsy of the report, apprehending the suspect, preparing the case for a successful prosecution, and testifying in court. On occasion, a Detective travels to other parts of the country or overseas to extradite suspects wanted in connection with crimes committed in the City of Los Angeles. In this capacity, a Detective maintains liaison with international law enforcement agencies.

Some of the specialized duties performed by a Detective include: conduct narcotics investigations, perform surveillance and establish and maintain contacts with informants; investigate gang related crimes; respond to and investigate scenes of crimes such as homicide, theft, robbery, auto theft, illegal sex related activities; and, crimes committed by juveniles. In addition, a Detective may perform court liaison functions; act as a Watch Commander; provide electronic equipment expertise to conduct surveillance and polygraph examinations; investigate applicants and businesses who have applied for Police Commission permits to conduct business; investigate child abuse cases; provide expert testimony in court; and, conduct investigations of crimes committed by gangs of foreign origin.

A Detective III is responsible for the above described duties in addition to serving as a leader in high profile cases of major robbery, fraud and homicide. A Detective III reviews reports prepared by his/her subordinates, informs the commanding officer of the status of the pending investigations, provides technical expertise, trains and supervises newly assigned Detectives and civilian personnel, and performs related administrative duties.

Police Sergeant

The class title of Police Sergeant within the Police Department is assigned to geographic patrol divisions, specialized divisions and administrative units of these divisions. The class title of Sergeant is broken down into two ranks: Sergeant I and II, and the Sergeant II rank performs a higher and more complex level of duties. When assigned to a patrol function, the Sergeant may be a Watch Commander or Assistant Watch Commander during his/her tour of duty. In this capacity, the Sergeant prepares daily car plan assignments; prepares and presents roll call training; inspects personnel and equipment for conformity to Department standards; supervises the desk, patrol officers on foot or in vehicles; reviews and approves various types of reports; prepares and investigates personnel complaints; responds to crime scenes at the request of police officers; handles radio calls and dispatches personnel; keeps the supervisors informed of issues of concern to them; trains and supervises probationary officers; and performs related functions.

Police Sergeants assigned to specialized divisions perform specific duties characteristic of these divisions. A police Sergeant may be assigned to any one of the following specialized divisions: Air Support, Personnel, Commission Investigation, Communications, Public Affairs, Juvenile, Narcotics, Vice, Jail, Traffic, Court Liaison, Community Relations, Training, Legal Affairs, Mounted or K-9 Unit, S.W.A.T. Unit, etc. In addition to performing some or all of the above described duties, a police Sergeant assigned to any one of these specialized divisions provides knowledge, expertise, and experience which are unique to day-to-day operations of these divisions as well as unusual situations which may occur in the course of the law enforcement operations. For example, a police Sergeant assigned to Air Support division may operate a helicopter, perform air surveillance, supervise and train other pilots, and act as a liaison with the Federal Aviation Administration for compliance with FAA rules. A police Sergeant assigned to Mounted or K-9 Unit may be required to possess knowledge and training related to the use of a horse or a dog in law enforcement operations. The qualifications required of a police Sergeant to be assigned to a specialized division are subject to change depending on the changes in the Department’s policies and procedures.

Police Lieutenant

The Police Lieutenant rank within the Police Department is assigned as Officer-in-Charge of various law enforcement and administrative functions and is broken down into two ranks: Lieutenant I and II.

Lieutenants I are generally assigned as watch commanders or administrative lieutenants at the geographic Area level.

The Lieutenant II may assist detective divisions commanding officers or act as Section Officers-in-Charge of various specialized entities throughout the Department. The Lieutenant assigned to geographic patrol and detective divisions is responsible for supervising patrol sergeants, police officers and detectives who carry out day-to-day, routine crime suppression and investigative functions.

In this capacity, the Lieutenant is an assistant to the Captain and acts as a Commanding Officer in the Captain’s absence. Specifically, the Lieutenant ensures appropriate and sufficient deployment of officers depending upon crime trends in his/her geographic Area; responds to scenes of serious crimes such as officer-involved shooting, homicide, major robbery and theft; reviews and ensures complete and accurate follow-up investigations; and, keeps the Captain informed of issues of concern within his/her command. In addition, the Lieutenant performs administrative functions such as review of the incoming correspondence and response to Department entities, outside agencies, and citizens; supervisor’s daily activity reports; and, crime and accident reports.

The Lieutenant ensures appropriate and timely training of the subordinates; the inspection of personnel, equipment and facilities to ensure compliance with the Department’s policies and procedures; conducts interviews of sworn and civilian personnel; attends community meetings to promote Department’s goals and missions and community safety programs; teaches classes at the Police Academy; and performs other related duties.

Lieutenants assigned to specialized divisions perform unique duties characteristic of each division such as Narcotics, Organized Crime and Vice, Anti-Terrorist, Juvenile Narcotics, Child Abuse, Air Support and surveillance, D.A.R.E., Burglary/Auto Theft, Financial Crimes, Transit, Labor Relations, Crime Suppression and S.W.A.T. Depending upon the division of assignment, each Lieutenant supervises the activities of his/her subordinates; coordinates specialized training and ensures sufficient stock of tactical supplies and equipment; maintains liaison with appropriate Department entities; acts as a leader at the scene of crime; and, reviews and completes all reports for the approval of a Captain.

Police Captain

The Police Captain is assigned within the Police Department to geographic Areas, detective divisions, and specialized divisions. The class title of a Police Captain is divided into three paygrade advancements: Captain I, II and III. Each higher level of a Police Captain assumes a more complex and difficult level of responsibility within his/her assignment. As a Commanding Officer of a patrol or detective division, the Captain is responsible for the following duties: inspecting and overseeing the functions of the patrol officers and detectives to ensure compliance with the Department policies, procedures, regulations and standards; supervising the administrative and support functions of non-sworn personnel; inspecting personnel, facilities, and tactics for safety and/or training needs; maintaining liaison with numerous municipal, government, civic organizations, and private citizens to establish and maintain rapport to facilitate Department’s functions and to promote neighborhood safety and community policing programs.

In addition to carrying out the aforementioned duties, Captains assigned to specialized divisions such as Narcotics, Organized Crime and Vice, Robbery/Homicide, Juvenile Services, Burglary/Auto Theft, Financial Crimes, Air Support, and Transit are responsible for unique duties characteristic of each division.

In addition, a Captain performs administrative duties such as reviewing correspondence, budget requests, and activity reports; interviewing and hiring sworn and civilian personnel for their division; acting as a Chief’s Duty Officer (off-hours); teaching classes at the Police Academy; and assuming the responsibilities of a Police Commander in his/her absence.

Police Commander

The Police Commander acts as the Assistant Commanding Officer at the four geographic Bureaus and Operations-Headquarters Bureau. They act as commanding officers for Community Affairs, Uniformed Services, Detective Services, Juvenile Services, Criminal Intelligence, Personnel, Training, Internal Affairs, Administrative, and Transit Groups. Each of these Groups are sub-divided into more specialized divisions such as Narcotics, Organized Crime and Vice, Anti-Terrorist, Burglary/Auto Theft, Air Support, Crime Suppression, Labor Relations, and Robbery/Homicide. Each Division is under the command of a Police Captain. Additionally, Commander rank personnel occupy positions as the Ombudsperson, Governmental Liaison, Employee Relations Administrator, and Department Commander; a staff level officer assigned to oversee night-time operations citywide.

The duties of the Commander are dependent upon his/her assignment to a specific bureau and may include: overseeing and directing the activities of patrol officers within geographic Areas; coordinating detectives’ investigative efforts within the City; and, exercising functional supervision over officers engaged in traffic enforcement functions. In addition, the Commander maintains contact with civic leaders and community groups within their geographic bureaus to promote the goals and missions of the Police Department to encourage neighborhood watch safety programs and to generate input from citizens to establish mutual trust between police officers and the community. Also, the Commander is responsible for ensuring compliance with Department policies and procedures by personnel under his/her supervision; conducting audits of operations; and, making recommendations to higher management for improving productivity and increasing efficiency. Further, the Commander may act as a Chief’s Duty Officer during off-hours or a Deputy Chief in his/her absence and carry out duties specified by the Chief of Police.

Police Commanders are promoted from the rank of a Police Captain.

Police Deputy Chief

The Police Deputy Chief is the second highest rank in the Police Department and reports directly to the Chief of Police. The Deputy Chief can be promoted from the rank of Captain or Commander.

The Deputy Chief is assigned as the commanding officer of major organizational components such as Geographic Operations Bureaus, Detective Bureaus, Human Resources Bureau, Internal Affairs Group, or as the Chief of Staff. In addition to carrying out specific bureau duties, the Deputy Chief may assume the duties of the Chief of Police in his absence and perform related functions in that capacity.

Specifically, the Deputy Chief oversees and directs the activities of patrol officers assigned within his/her Bureau; the detectives who investigate crimes committed citywide such as, homicide, robbery, auto theft, forgery, criminal conspiracy, and bunco; police officers assigned to traffic enforcement and accident investigation; personnel responsible for all operations of recruitment, promotions, training, deployment, background investigation, and maintenance of personnel records. Also, the Deputy Chief represents the Department at community and business meetings to promote the Department’s missions and goals in order to foster mutual trust between the community and the Department. In addition, the Deputy Chief acts as a Chief of Staff to the Office of the Chief of Police and keeps the Police Chief informed of all operational activities on a day-to-day basis.

Chief of Police (COP)

The Chief of Police (COP) is the highest-ranking officer in the Police Department. As a General Manager of the Police Department, the COP is responsible for the planning, efficient administration and operation of the Police Department under the authority of the Board of Police Commissioners. In this capacity, the COP directs, plans, and coordinates the enforcement of the penal divisions of the City Charter, the ordinances of the City, and the laws of the state and nation for the purpose of protecting persons and property and for the preservation of the peace of the community. The COP is responsible for testifying before the City Council, the state and national legislative bodies on law enforcement matters of importance to the City of Los Angeles; and, proposing new or amending existing legislation which could have an impact on law enforcement.

The COP attends the Police Commission meetings to keep that body informed about any issue related to the Department’s operations and to respond to citizens’ complaints or concerns. Also, the COP acts on all matters related to disciplinary issues and recommends awards for exemplary conduct of the Department’s sworn and civilian employees. In addition, the COP makes presentations to private citizens community groups, religious organizations, schools, and the business and industrial community to promote the goals and missions of the Police Department and to solicit their input in making the City of Los Angeles a safe place in which to live, visit and conduct business. During a state of emergency such as civil disturbance in the City, the COP assumes a leadership role in planning, coordinating and directing all activities aimed at restoring peace in the City or otherwise returning conditions to normal.

The COP has jurisdiction within the City of Los Angeles and line command authority over sworn and civilian employees. The official duties of the COP are described in City Charter Sections 80, 87, 200, and 201.

The COP is generally selected from within the ranks of Deputy Police Chief and should have a college degree and at least 12 years of progressively responsible law enforcement experience. The COP is appointed by the Mayor and is subject to the approval of the Police Commission and the City Council. The COP can serve a maximum of two five-year terms.