1877 — The LAPD emerges as a full-fledged police department. Patrolmen are required to remove weeds and to inspect sewers, among other tasks.
1902-1909 — Corruption scandals force the retirement of five L.A. police chiefs.
1910 — Twenty-year labor struggle against the Los Angeles Times culminates in the dynamiting of
Times printing plant by strikers, killing 21. Using the bombing as a pretext, the LAPD initiates a staunch anti-labor stance that continues for decades.
1922-23 — More than 100 members of the 1200-man department are discharged for brutality or corruption.
1926 — Chief James Edgar Davis forms a 50-man “gun squad,” and says of the city's gangsters:
“I want them brought in dead, not alive.”
1929 — As big business and religious reformers demand a “pure” city, the LAPD responds by arresting 50,000 people that year.
1936 — Seeking to halt the “invasion” of dust-bowl Depression refugees, Chief Davis usurps the state's power, declares a “Bum Blockade,” and sends LAPD officers to all major entry points into California to bar the entry of the migrants. The Los Angeles Times favorably compares Davis to England's 16th-century Queen Elizabeth, who “launched the first war on bums.”
1943 — Sailors from the Chavez Ravine Naval Base riot and assault Mexican-American teenagers. The LAPD reacts by arresting the victims. The Zoot Suit Riots follow.
1950 — William H. Parker, the iron-fisted creator and intellectual father of the modern LAPD, is sworn in as chief. He transforms the LAPD into the national model for “confront-and-command” policing.
1951 — Bloody Christmas. Seven young Latinos are brutally beaten by LAPD officers while in custody. Eight officers are later indicted. The re-creation of the beating is a major scene in the 1997 film L.A. Confidential.
1962 — Eight years after the U.S. Supreme Court orders the desegregation of American schools in Brown v. Board of Education, Chief Bill Parker orders the desegregation of the LAPD.
1965 — Sparked by a controversial LAPD arrest, the Watts Riots burn for six days through South-Central L.A. Thirty-four die, more than 1,000 are injured, 600 buildings are destroyed, burned or looted, and 4,000 are arrested.
1965 — California Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown names ex-CIA Director John McCone to head a commission to examine the causes of the rebellion. Critics denounce the commission report as a whitewash of the LAPD.
1967 — Ten thousand anti-war demonstrators peacefully march in Century City but are met by 1,300 LAPD officers in riot gear. As violent confrontations erupt, Mayor Sam Yorty comments: “Of course, some of those people smeared themselves with red paint to make it look like blood.”
1967 — LAPD unveils the nation's first SWAT team.
1974 — Symbionese Liberation Army kidnaps Patty Hearst, comes to L.A. and holes up in a South-Central bungalow. The house goes up in flames, and six people are incinerated on national TV during a firefight with LAPD officers.
1975-1982 — Fifteen people die while being subdued by LAPD officers employing the “chokehold.” Over the same period in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas, only one chokehold death occurs in each city.
1979 — Eula Love, a distraught 39-year-old South-Central housewife, is shot and killed by LAPD officers after she brandishes a bone-knife on her front lawn during a dispute over an unpaid gas bill. Her case becomes the cause célèbre in publicizing similar police shootings of unarmed or lightly armed suspects.
1981 — The Coalition Against Police Abuse, the ACLU and 120 others sue the LAPD for illegal spying by the Public Disorder Intelligence Division branch of the department. Six thousand pages of released documents reveal that the LAPD had been spying on L.A.'s mayor, City Council members, a state senator, a U.S. congressman, the governor and attorney general of California, the National Organization for Women, the Beverly Hills Democratic Club, and religious, civil rights and environmental organizations — more than 200 individuals and organizations in all. The PDID is dismantled and replaced by the Anti-Terrorist Division.
1982 — As the deindustrialization of Los Angeles accelerates, the Bloods and Crips build up their gang networks. The LAPD responds with an increase in anti-gang units.
1985 — Chief Daryl Gates uses an armored personnel carrier with a 14-foot protrusion known as the battering ram to smash a gaping hole in the wall of a reputed gang drug house. He finds only kids eating chocolate-swirl ice cream, and one-tenth of 1 gram of cocaine. No charges are filed.
1988 — Gates orders Operation Hammer — massive anti-gang sweeps in which at least 25,000 mostly black and Latino males are stopped or arrested. “Pick 'em up for anything and everything,” the street officers are told.
1988 — Eighty LAPD officers storm two small apartment buildings on South-Central's Dalton Street. While looking for drugs, they tear toilets from floors, smash walls with sledgehammers, slash furniture and then send it crashing through windows. The city pays $3.8 million to the victims of the destruction.
March 3, 1991 — While 21 cops watch,
four others beat Rodney King 56 times with their solid aluminum batons. With the beating videotaped by an onlooker, CNN continuously beams it around the world. Afterward, an L.A. Times poll finds two-thirds of L.A. residents believe such police brutality occurs routinely.
March 15, 1991 — The four LAPD officers who beat Rodney King are indicted on felony charges.
July 1991 — Following the King beating, Mayor Tom Bradley forms the Christopher Commission to investigate the LAPD. It issues a devastating 228-page report indicting the department and its leadership and calls for deep reform. Chief Gates ignores mounting demands that he resign.
November 26, 1991 — Change of venue is granted to the four indicted officers; judge moves the trial to the Ventura County suburb of Simi Valley — home to hundreds of LAPD officers.
April 29, 1992 — The four officers are acquitted of all counts but one, which is dismissed by the judge. Infuriated by the verdict, people take to the streets, and three days of disorder, looting, death and destruction sweep through South-Central, Hollywood, Compton, San Pedro and Long Beach. Thousands of National Guard troops quell the disturbances. Fifty-two die, more than 2,300 are injured, and insured losses total $1 billion. The L.A. Times calls the '92 riots the deadliest, costliest and worst “U.S. civil disturbance of the 20th century.”
June 1992 — LAPD Chief Daryl Gates is forced to resign in disgrace.
June 1992 — Pro-police reform Charter Amendment F is passed by voters by a 2-1 margin. LAPD chiefs' tenure is limited to two five-year terms.
June 1992 — Willie Williams, the former head of the Philadelphia P.D., is sworn in as L.A.'s first black police chief.
August 1992 — The four LAPD officers who beat King are indicted by the federal government for violating King's civil rights.
June 1993 — Richard Riordan is elected mayor after promising he's “tough enough” to restore law and order. City Hall puts Christopher Commission reforms on the back burner.
August 1993 — Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell, two of the officers in the King beating, are found guilty and receive two-and-a-half-year jail sentences. The two other officers are acquitted.
April 1994 — A jury orders the city to pay King $3.8 million to compensate for his beating.
1995 — The City Charter is amended to create the independent Office of Inspector General, charged with policing the police.
1997 — The Police Commission refuses to re-hire Willie Williams for a second five-year term.
1997 — Veteran LAPD manager Bernard Parks is selected as chief by Mayor Riordan.
March 1998 — Six pounds of cocaine is
reported missing from the LAPD evidence property room.
August 1998 — Chief Parks announces that 85 percent of the Christopher Commission reforms have been implemented and that reform of the LAPD is essentially complete.
August 1998 — Rampart Division CRASH Officer Rafael Perez is arrested for stealing the missing cocaine.
December 1998 — A jury votes 8-4 to convict Perez.
September 1999 — Perez makes a deal with the D.A.: five years in prison and immunity for all past crimes (excluding murder). In return, he agrees to inform on other officers; he accuses about 70 Rampart CRASH officers of brutal beatings, bad shootings, routine lying, writing false reports, and planting drugs and guns on gang members. Eventually scores of criminal convictions are overturned.
December 1999 — The L.A. Times obtains Perez's testimony, and the Rampart scandal breaks wide-open, raising questions about Chief Parks' leadership and commitment to reform.
March 2000 — Chief Parks presents his report on Rampart and blames the scandal on a few bad apples and “mediocre” middle management. The investigation is limited almost solely to the Rampart CRASH units. No official investigation of the LAPD's other divisions is ever completed. Mayor Riordan labels the report the most detailed and honest inquiry “in the history of mankind.”
September 2000 — Over stiff resistance from Parks and initially from Mayor Riordan, the city of Los Angeles enters into a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department giving a federal judge power to monitor the LAPD for five years. The federal government had otherwise threatened to press a massive civil rights lawsuit.
October 2000 — Three of four Rampart CRASH officers named by Perez and tried on obstruction of justice and other charges are found guilty.
November 2000 — Javier Ovando settles his lawsuit against the city for $15 million. An unarmed Ovando had been shot by Perez and his partner, paralyzed for life, and sentenced to over 20 years in prison for allegedly trying to kill the officers.
December 2000 — The convictions of the convicted CRASH officers are overturned by a Superior Court judge.
January 2001 — The L.A. County District Attorney announces that he will appeal the judge's decision.
March 2001 — Three more CRASH officers, including Perez's partner, Nino Durden, reach plea agreements with state and federal prosecutors. A fourth is indicted and pleads innocent.
July 2001 — Perez is placed on parole after serving three years in prison.
November 2001 — The Police Protective League vows to spend as much $1 million to thwart the re-hiring of Chief Parks.
February 2002 — Mayor James Hahn
announces he opposes Parks' re-hiring. South-Central's black leadership is outraged and vows to fight for Parks' retention.
April 2002 — The Los Angeles Police Commission votes 4-1 not to re-hire Parks and begins a nationwide search for a new chief; Parks leaves his post and announces a run for the City Council.
July 2002 — Fifty-one candidates apply to be Los Angeles' next chief of police, among them former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, Portland Police Chief and former LAPD Assistant Chief Mark Kroeker, Oxnard Chief of Police Art Lopez, LAPD Assistant Chief David J. Gascon, and Deputy Chiefs David Kalish and Margaret York.
August 2002 — The Police Commission narrows down the candidate list to 27. By early September, the commission will hand a final list of three contenders to Mayor Hahn, who will make the final choice. The Los Angeles City Council will have the right to challenge any choice.