Old School Thoughts
by Steve Hodel
LAPD Hollywood Homicide Detective
New York Times Best Selling Author
California's infamous 1947
Black Dahila murder went
unsolved for decades; until,
former LAPD homicide
detective turned private
investigator Steve Hodel
launched his own
Listen to an interview with Steve Hodel by
Lieutenant Raymond Foster, LAPD (Ret)
on Criminal Justice Online Radio
This short article is written for all of you
who have recently chosen a career in or
are about to become a part of the law-
enforcement community.

First, let me say congratulations!  You
are about to embark on an exciting and
highly rewarding profession. No other
“job” can compare to the life of a cop. In
the months and years ahead you have
chosen to dedicate your life to protecting
and serving others. Your work in “the
streets” will bring you: high-excitement,
physical and mental challenges, true and
lasting friendships, immense joys and a
few sorrows.    

As the years fly by, both your
professional and personal life will be
tested in many “trials by fire.”  Time and
time again, personal temptations will be
presented. Remain true to yourself and
your oath to serve the public, and you
will succeed and experience enormous

Here are a few bullet point suggestions
to keep in mind based on my fifty-years
of experience in criminal investigations
and in dealing directly with “the public”
which includes the best and the worst of

•        In all your calls and responses for
public service be careful be safe.
Especially in responding to domestic
disputes. Those are often the most
dangerous call you will ever receive.

•        In dealing with the public be
neutral—be fair.  Treat all citizens the
same. Respect the individuality of each
citizen and his or her needs.

•        Control your emotions under
stress. If you are truly in control, others
will sense it and respond accordingly.  If
it is genuine, you will be recognized as
having a “Command Presence”, which will
serve you well and naturally defuse and
de-escalate volatile situations
•        Do your best to avoid the
traditional “Us and Them” mentality.  
Police work is hard. Bonding with fellow
officers is natural and beneficial, but
always keep in mind the criminal element
you are in contact with is relatively small
compared to the overall citizenry. There
are many good people on the streets and
“in the mix.”

•        In addition to your brother and
sister officers, try your best to integrate
your personal social life with men and
women of other professions, so as not
to lose perspective.  Keep a balance.

•        Be honest! Never lie on a police
report and never perjure yourself in court
to protect a brother officer. If you do, it
will come back to bite you—guaranteed.

•        Avoid peer pressure. If you see a
fellow officer engage in an act you know
is wrong—do not join in. Sounds simple,
but oftentimes it is not. Again, be true to
yourself. In LAPD’s early days of payoffs
and corruption honest cops were known
as “square apples” and while dirty cops
avoided partnering with them, yet they
still maintained an unspoken and lasting

•        In interrogations with suspects
always be objective and in control of your
personal feelings.  “Good cop - Bad cop”
only works in movies. Leave your
“attitude” outside the interrogation room
door. Use sugar instead of vinegar. A
simple jester such as complying with his
or her request for a cigarette or a drink
of water may get you a full blown
confession to a rape or murder. It has
worked for me on many occasions.

•        Finally, you should know that the
use and display of empathy and
compassion in your role as a public
servant are not signs of weakness.
Rather, they are signs of strength. They
signal to your public that you are there
to protect and to serve and that you are
firm, but fair.

Good Luck. Enjoy your life of service to
others and –stay safe.

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
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