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.

It is the mission of the Los Angeles Police Department to safeguard the lives and property of the people we serve, to reduce the incidence and fear of crime, and to enhance public safety while working with the diverse communities to improve their quality of life. Our mandate is to do so with honor and integrity, while at all times conducting ourselves with the highest ethical standards to maintain public confidence.

The Core Values of the Los Angeles Police Department are intended to guide and inspire us in all we say and do. Making sure that our values become part of our day-to-day work life is our mandate, and they help to ensure that our personal and professional behavior can be a model for all to follow.

Service to Our Communities

We are dedicated to enhancing public safety and reducing the fear and the incidence of crime. People in our communities are our most important customers. Our motto "To Protect and to Serve" is not just a slogan - it is our way of life. We will work in partnership with the people in our communities and do our best, within the law, to solve community problems that affect public safety. We value the great diversity of people in both our residential and business communities and serve all with equal dedication.

Reverence for the Law

We have been given the honor and privilege of enforcing the law. We must always exercise integrity in the use of the power and authority that have been given to us by the people. Our personal and professional behavior should be a model for all to follow. We will obey and support the letter and spirit of the law.

Commitment to Leadership

We believe the Los Angeles Police Department should be a leader in law enforcement. We also believe that each individual needs to be a leader in his or her area of responsibility. Making sure that our values become part of our day-to-day work life is our mandate. We must each work to ensure that our co-workers, our professional colleagues, and our communities have the highest respect for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Integrity in All We Say and Do

Integrity is our standard. We are proud of our profession and will conduct ourselves in a manner that merits the respect of all people. We will demonstrate honest, ethical behavior in all our interactions. Our actions will match our words. We must have the courage to stand up for our beliefs and do what is right. Throughout the ranks, the Los Angeles Police Department has a long history of integrity and freedom from corruption. Upholding this proud tradition is a challenge we must all continue to meet.

Respect for People

Working with the Los Angeles Police Department should be challenging and rewarding. Our people are our most important resource. We can best serve the many and varied needs of our communities by empowering our employees to fulfill their responsibilities with knowledge, authority, and appropriate discretion. We encourage our people to submit ideas, we listen to their suggestions, and we help them develop to their maximum potential. We believe in treating all people with respect and dignity. We show concern and empathy for the victims of crime and treat violators of the law with fairness and dignity. By demonstrating respect for others, we will earn respect for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Quality Through Continuous Improvement

We will strive to achieve the highest level of quality in all aspects of our work. We can never be satisfied with the "status quo." We must aim for continuous improvement in serving the people in our communities. We value innovation and support creativity. We realize that constant change is a way of life in a dynamic city like Los Angeles, and we dedicate ourselves to proactively seeking new and better ways to serve.

1. Reverence for the Law

The main thrust of a peace officer’s duties consists of an attempt to enforce the law. In our application of the law, we must do it within a legal spirit which was so clearly set forth by the framers of the Bill of Rights, an original part of our Constitution. That bill had as its purpose elevating the rights of each citizen to a position co-equal with the state which might accuse him. Its purpose was to provide for an enforcement of the law with fundamental fairness and equity. Because of the Bill of Rights, the dignity of the individual per-son in America was placed in an almost sacred position of importance.

A peace officer’s enforcement should not be done in grudging adherence to the legal rights of the accused, but in a sincere spirit of seeking that every accused person is given all of his rights as far as it is within the powers of the police.

In the discharge of our enforcement of criminal statutes, the peace officer must scrupulously avoid any conduct which would make him a violator of the law. The solution of a crime, or the arrest of a lawbreaker, can never justify the peace officer committing a felony as an expedient for the enforcement of the law.

We peace officers should do our utmost to foster a reverence for the law. We can start best by displaying a reverence for the legal rights of our fellow citizens and a reverence for the law itself.

2. Crime Prevention Top Priority

The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder as an alternative to repression by military force and severity of legal punishment. When the police fail to prevent crime, it becomes important to apprehend the person responsible for the crime and gather all evidence that might be used in a subsequent trial.

3. Public Approbation of Police

The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of po-lice existence, actions, behavior, and the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect.

4. Voluntary Law Observance

The police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law in order to be able to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public.

5. Public Cooperation

The degree of public cooperation that can be secured diminishes, proportionately, the necessity for the use of physical force and compulsion in achieving police objectives.

6. Impartial Friendly Enforcement

The police seek and preserve public favor, not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to the law without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws; by readily offering individual service and friendship to all members of society without regard to their race or social standing; by the ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humor; and by readily offering individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

7. Minimum Use of Force

The police should use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient to achieve police objectives; and police should use only the reasonable amount of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a po-lice objective.

8. Public Are the Police

The police at all times should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police; the police are the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to du-ties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interest of community welfare.

9. Limit of Police Power

The police should always direct their actions strictly toward their functions and never ap-pear to usurp the powers of the judiciary by avenging individuals or the state, or authoritatively judging guilt or punishing the guilty.

10. Test of Police Effectiveness

The test of police effectiveness is the absence of crime and the presence of public order. It is not the evidence of police action in dealing with crime and disorder.

11. People Working with Police

The task of crime prevention cannot be accomplished by the police alone. This task necessarily requires the willing cooperation of both the police and the public working together toward a common goal.

12. People Working with People

Since the police cannot be expected to be on every residential or business block, every hour of the day, a process must be developed whereby each person becomes concerned with the welfare and safety of his neighborhood. When people are working with other people in their neighborhood, they can effectively reduce crime.

13. Managers Working with Police

Only line police officers perform the tasks for which police were created. They are the operating professionals. Supervisors and managers exist to define problems, to establish objectives, and to assist line police officers in the accomplishment of the police mission.

The evaluation of a manager should be based on the improvement and excellence of his subordinates in the achievement of organizational goals. The life’s blood of good management is a thoroughly systematic, two-way circulation of information, feelings, and perceptions throughout the organization.

14. Police Working with Police

For many reasons, some specialization of work is necessary. Specialization should be created only when vitally necessary. When specialization is created, organization should be adjusted to ensure that the specialists and generalists who serve the same citizens work closely together on the common problems in as informal an organizational structure as possible. This will tend to ensure a unity of effort, resources, and the effective service to a common goal.

15. Police Working with Criminal Justice System

It must be recognized that the police and the people alone cannot successfully resolve the problems of crime. The criminal justice system as a whole, in order to properly serve the public, must operate as a total system with all of its various elements working together. The close cooperation of the police with prosecutors, courts, and correctional officers is necessary in order to ensure the development of a safer community.

16. Police/Press Relationships

One of the first and most fundamental considerations of this nation’s founders in drafting the Bill of Rights was to provide for a free press as an essential element of the First Amendment to the Constitution. They recognized that a well-informed citizenry is vital to the effective functioning of a democracy. Police operations profoundly affect the public and therefore arouse substantial public interest. Likewise, public interest and public co-operation bear significantly on the successful accomplishment of any police mission. The police should make every reasonable effort to serve the needs of the media in informing the public about crime and other police problems. This should be done with an attitude of openness and frankness whenever possible. The media should have access to personnel, at the lowest level in a Department, who are fully informed about the subject of a press inquiry. The media should be told all that can be told that will not impinge on a person’s right to a fair trial, seriously impede a criminal investigation, imperil a human life, or seriously endanger the security of the people. In such cases, the minimum information should be given which will not impinge on the four areas and we should merely state that nothing more can be said.

In all other matters in our relationship with the media in dealing with current news, every member of the Department should make every reasonable effort consistent with accomplishing the police task in providing the media representatives with full and accurate material.

17. Management by Objectives

In order to effectively deal with the most important problems, objectives must be established. The establishment of objectives and the means used to ensure that they are reached must include the participation of those involved in the task. The setting of an objective has very little meaning without the participation of those involved.

18. Management by Participation

Since employees are greatly influenced by decisions that are made and objectives that are established, it is important for them to be able to provide input into the methods utilized to reach these decisions. Employees should be encouraged to make recommendations which might lead to an improvement in the delivery of police services and assist in the furtherance of the Department meeting its objective.

19. Territorial Imperative

Police work is one of the most personal of all personal services. It deals with human beings in life and death situations. The police officers and the people they serve must be as close as possible, and where possible must know one another. Such closeness can generate the police-citizen cooperation necessary for the involvement of the whole community in community protection. Organization of assignments should ensure that the police and the same citizens have an opportunity to continuously work for the protection of a specific community. Strength through interacting together and working together on common problems can be enhanced through officers and the people feeling at home with one an-other in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation. This may be described as a utilization of the "Territorial Imperative."

20. Openness and Honesty

For police-public cooperation, there must be respect of the police by the public. This is best ensured by optimum openness of the Department in its operations. A general feeling and reality of openness must pervade the police organization. Above all, the police officer must be consistently open, honest, and trustful in all matters. A combination of honesty and openness will effectively develop respect in the community for the police and make it possible for citizens to come to them with problems and information. Where this trust does not exist because of a lack of honesty or openness, the channels of communication between the police and the public are clogged and the police must desperately struggle on alone.