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In "Pilot," S01E01 of The Closer, we see a conversation between Captain Taylor and Assistant Chief Pope. Taylor makes it clear that he resents the way a woman who's only done law enforcement work in a couple of cities on the other side of the country (Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, Georgia) was recruited for the LAPD to run a special investigative unit and was promptly made a Deputy Chief, instantly outranking him despite all the years he's put in, paying his dues as he gradually worked his way up the ladder of the LAPD.

Pope claims that if the department wanted to recruit Brenda Lee Johnson at all, there wasn't much choice about what pay grade they should offer to lure her in. I don't have my DVD handy, but according to an online copy of the script, Pope says:

You know the rules. She starts as a rookie officer or as a Deputy Chief. There's nothing in between.

I remember hearing him say something about that when I watched the episode (a few months ago), and I was stunned by the thought of how ridiculous such a hiring policy would be. A seasoned detective from, say, San Francisco, isn't allowed to transfer in to fill a similar job slot (with about the same size paycheck) as a detective in the LAPD? He's got to spend his first couple of years driving around in a patrol car, wearing a uniform and getting entry-level pay, and then maybe he'll be promoted to a job worthy of his many prior years of experience?

I wondered if this actually reflected hiring policies of the LAPD at the time this series began its run (in 2005). I did a little Googling, which led to such places as the Wikipedia page about the LAPD, which told me some things I didn't know about their hierarchy, such as the fact that there are two levels of "Lieutenant" and three levels of "Captain." But it didn't seem to cover the subject of whether a veteran cop from another part of the country can only transfer in as a rookie or as a deputy chief.

So I'm asking: Does anyone know for certain if the LAPD has, or previously had, such a rule about the limited options when hiring experienced law enforcement personnel who have previously worked for some other police force? The newcomer can accept rookie pay, or can be offered a deputy chief's pay, but nothing else is (or was) permitted because of stringent regulations?

My nasty suspicion is that the people writing and producing The Closer simply made this up so that Taylor's resentment of Brenda's outranking him, despite her much fewer years of practical experience in police work, could be justified by her already being a "Deputy Chief," at least two pay grades above him in the hierarchy, from her first day on her new job. But it would not break my heart to learn that I was wrong!

  • I don't think the statement is one of formal policy as much as practical function. "The rules" is more shorthand for "how things work." What are the positions between Deputy Chief, in this case requiring a special technical background that is not necessarily gained through policework experience, and rookie officer? Non-rookie officer? Detective? Ranking patrol or detective officer (Sgt, Lt, Captain)? All of those are gained through experience and working the way through a formalized, structured advancement system, or similar experience with another police department. – PoloHoleSet Apr 13 '17 at 19:15
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Deputy Chief ranks are rare. As an LAPD recruitment site put it, it's equivalent to a Vice President position of a corporation. Such a policy to only recruit outside of the LAPD for this or higher positions would not hurt the LAPD. It is an organization of thousands around for decades. There is sufficiently enough internal employees that could be promoted to these ranks, and enough of a support system that even someone only half way prepared could do well in the role. Nearly all companies and police departments have policies that favor internal promotion over external recruitment. Additionally, the LAPD can't arbitrarily decide what rank to give a recruit. It has to fit the job the person is expected to do. She came in as a Deputy Chief because that's the title that job required.

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    I'm not sure you understood the question. I wasn't just asking if it would make sense, theoretically, for the LAPD to have a policy of "we don't hire outsiders to fill vacant slots anywhere between the levels of rookie and Deputy Chief." I was asking if the LAPD ever did have such a policy, in the real world. You didn't answer that question. You only talked, in general terms, about why you felt it "would not hurt the LAPD" if they had such a policy. – Lorendiac Apr 10 '17 at 20:41

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