LAPD's Detective Ranks-

Q:  In your book you say you promoted to the rank of Detective III. It is different from the military rankings. Can you explain what that means?   

A:  Yes.  In 1969 I transferred into LAPD’s Hollywood Division Detective Bureau as a policeman loanee. Shortly after my transfer to the Bureau LAPD hired the Jacobs Company to conduct a survey into the Department’s rankings and develop a new paygrade system. They recommended a new system of ranks and for the first time a civil service position (and exam) was created for the rank of- “Investigator” (Later changed to “Detective”) Prior to Jacobs no examination was required and “detectives” were assigned to the Bureau strictly on a “who you know” basis. It was political and very much of a clique. Jacobs and the Civil Service Exam mostly did away with that and in the following years, it became much more of a “what you know.” 

The ranks of Detecitves I, II, and III provided officers with a choice. They could enter the Bureau with the potential of rising to the highest rank of Detective III and retire with the equivalent of a lieutenant’s pay, or go up the uniform patrol route and rise to the highest command as Chief of Police.  

I took the first exam ever given by the Department and promoted to “Investigator I” in 1970 or 71. I promoted to Detective II in the mid or late 1970s, and to Detective III in 1983.

Many officers (like myself) once inside the Bureau wanted to stay there. We loved the investigative challenges which kept us “in the streets” rather than behind a desk. Many patrol officers feel the same way and don’t take the exams for higher promotions because they love patrol work and have no desire to become desk jockeys.

Below are the detective ranks from the LAPD webpage:




Detective III

LAPD Detective-3.jpg

Detective II

LAPD Detective-2.jpg

Detective I

LAPD Detective-1.jpg

Police Officer III+1 / Senior Lead Officer

LAPD Police Officer-3+1 - Senior Lead Officer.jpg

Police Officer III

LAPD Police Officer-3.jpg


  1. Yvette France on December 15, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Steve, do you know if Betty Bersinger is still living today? She is the one who discovered Elizabeth Short’s body on 39th and Norton street.

  2. Steve Hodel on December 16, 2009 at 2:45 am

    She was as of a few years ago.

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