Hollywood Intersection Renamed "Ian Campbell Square" In Honor of Slain Officer of "Onion Field" Fame
Officer Ian Campbell circa 1960
August 10, 2012
This afternoon I attended a ceremony dedicated to the memory of slain LAPD officer, Ian Campbell.
On March 9, 1963, while I was
beginning my second month recruit training at the LAPD Police Academy, Ian
Campbell and his partner, Officer Karl Hettinger were working a “Z Car” (plainclothes) assignment
in Hollywood Division. (At the time of his assignment in Hollywood, Ian had just
three years on the Department.)
The officers had stopped
two suspects at the intersection of Gower and Carlos and were in the process of
conducting a “shakedown” of the two men. As the officers approached the
suspects to conduct an F.I. (Field Interview) the passenger pulled a gun and
ordered Officer Karl Hettinger to hand over his gun or they would shoot his partner,
Ian Campbell who was standing at the driver’s side of the suspect’s vehicle.
Hettinger, in order to save
his partner’s life, complied and handed over his gun.
The two men later
identified as Gregory Powell and Jimmy Lee Smith kidnapped the officers and
forced them to drive to Bakersfield where Officer Campbell was ordered to lay
down in a crop field and was then executed in cold blood. Hettinger fled on foot when the shots were
fired and in the darkness, he managed to escape.
The story of the two officers ordeal was made famous in
Joseph Wambaugh’s book, THE ONION FIELD.
Powell and Smith were
quickly apprehended and convicted of the crimes and sentenced to life without
possibility of parole.
A signpost dedicated to Ian
Campbell’s memory was unveiled at the Hollywood intersection of Gower and
Carlos Ave, the original location of the kidnapping. The intersection is now
named, IAN CAMPBELL SQUARE.
A week after Campbell’s
murder, Commander John “Two Gun” Powers wrote Patrol Bureau Order No. 11. That
order dictated that in the future, “Under no circumstances would an officer ever give up his gun.”
In an act which many at the
time condemned and one which very likely would not even be considered by
today’s LAPD, the surviving partner, Karl Hettinger was ordered by Chief William Parker
to attend all roll calls in all divisions and provide a narrative critique and
condemnation of his own actions, (the tactical decision to give up his gun in hopes of saving his
As a result of the ordeal
(kidnapping, execution of his partner, and forced blame and humiliation for his
actions) Officer Hettinger developed emotional problems. He began drinking, as
well as shoplifting small items from Department Stores and left the department under a forced psychological stress retirement. He subsequently became a gardener in Bakersfield, where he worked just a short distance
from the actual Onion Field where his partner was executed. Officer Hettinger
died at the age of 59.
The idea of honoring and
paying homage to Officer Ian Campbell originated from the LAPD Historical
Society. LAPDHS Executive director Glynn
Martin, along with the following L.A. City dignitaries attended this afternoon’s
unveiling and tribute: DA Steve Cooley, L.A. Councilman Eric Garcetti, Captain
Beatrice Girmala and a squad of her
uniformed officers from Hollywood Division. Ian Campbell’s daughter, Valerie
Campbell-Moviz was also in attendance. (See photos below)
Coucilman Garcetti, Ian Campbell’s daughter,
Valerie Campbell Moviz and DA Steve Cooley
Councilman Garcetti speaking
at Campbell tribute.
Hollywood Division Captain Beatrice
Girmala with DA Cooley looking on
“Ian reminds us there is
nothing routine about police work.”
Girmala LAPD Hollywood Division
For those interested in some “inside information” relating to the Ian Campbell incident I would refer you to the below notes provided from my good friend, retired LAPD Lt. Max Hurlbut. Max is a remarkable individual. He retired as a lieutenant from LAPD after serving from 1960-1985. He then became: Chief of Police of Whittier, California, Chief of Police of Kodiak, Alaska, then Marshal of Tombstone, Arizona. Max is also an Army Special Forces Colonel (ret.) See below PDF for his personal recollections on the Ian Campbell/Karl Hettinger murder and aftermath.
As someone who first heard of the Onion Field murders by seeing the movie,at a very young age, knowing that it was a true occurance, that affected the lives of many, I feel a certain level of closure in knowing that the slain officer will be remembered by the naming of that intersection.
Frankly, I leave this story feeling bad for Hettinger.
Yes, I totally agree. Karl Hettinger was put through a living HELL and LAPD’s decision to force him to retell that HELL over and over extended his personal suffering and eventually destroyed the man. Very tragic. My heart goes out to his family.
Ian and Karl are true heroes of the LAPD. I know some of Ian’s family members and spoke to Karl several years before he passed away. The LAPD let Karl down, both of these policeman were victims of that tragic night.
Mike: I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY. Best Regards, Steve