Take the next step towards a rewarding career


There are two types of advancement within the Los Angeles Police Department


"Promotion" refers to an advance from one Civil Service class to another, such as from Police Officer to Detective or Sergeant. Promotion is always from an eligible list established by the Personnel Department as the result of a Civil Service examination.

Assignment to a Higher Pay Grade

"Assignment to a higher pay grade" is assignment to a position carrying greater responsibility or expertise, without a change in Civil Service class. Examples would be reassignments from a Police Officer II to a Police Officer III position, or Detective I to a Detective II. Reassignment from Police Officer I to Police Officer II is automatic upon successful completion of 18 months of service (the Academy training and field probation period). Most assignments to higher pay grades are the result of Police Department internal selection procedures.

After the Academy

After completion of the six-month Police Academy training, Police Officers are assigned to one of 21 geographic areas to serve as patrol officers. Probationary officers are assigned to a Training Officer during their one-year field training. The next two to three years are spent in patrol assignments. Specialized assignments such as METRO Division, Motorcycle Units, Air Support Division, etc., require extensive experience prior to application. Police Officers are eligible to compete in the Police Sergeant or Police Detective examinations after four years of service.

Promotion from Police Officer

Promotion from Police Officer may be either to Police Detective or to Police Sergeant. A promotion may also be accomplished between Detective and Sergeant.
Promotion from Sergeant or Detective is to Police Lieutenant; from there on, there is only one promotional ladder. Successive rungs of the promotional ladder are Police Captain, Police Commander, Police Deputy Chief, and Chief of Police. The position of Assistant Chief is a pay grade advancement within the civil service class of Deputy Chief.

Promotion to Sergeant

The Sergeant position is a field supervisor position; this is the position for which Sergeant promotional candidates must demonstrate their qualifications. There are also administrative and specialist assignments for Sergeants. Detectives do specialized or generalized follow-up investigative work. Examples of the assignments in this civil service class are Personnel Background Investigators, Undercover Narcotics Investigators, Internal Affairs Investigators, and Traffic Accident Follow-up Investigators.

Requirements and duty descriptions for higher ranks can be found in job bulletins published by the Personnel Department.



The first step in the career ladder with the Los Angeles Police Department is Police Officer I. It is the entry-level classification given to all LAPD officers upon entering the Police Academy. For six months in the Police Academy, officers are taught criminal law, human relations, Spanish, and report writing. In addition, they are trained in tactics, firearms, and driving. Physical fitness and self-defense play a big part in Academy training. A Police Officer I will automatically advance to Police Officer II upon successful completion of his/her 18-month probationary period.


After graduating from the Police Academy, a Police Officer I is assigned to a geographic patrol division within the City of Los Angeles where they must utilize all the knowledge and tactics learned in the Academy. At the next step in the promotional ladder, a Police Officer II is still considered a probationary officer and is placed under the supervision of a higher-ranking officer, normally a Police Officer III - Field Training Officer.

A probationary Police Officer II assigned to a patrol unit performs basic duties such as: responding to the scene of a crime or an accident; interviewing suspects and witnesses; writing crime reports; responding to radio calls; monitoring any suspicious activity of ongoing crimes; coordinating vehicular traffic; visiting open businesses such as banks, markets, department stores, and service stations to establish a rapport with owners; booking suspects and evidence and transporting them to the appropriate Police Department facility; responding to citizens' and visitors' questions; preparing Daily Field Activity Reports; attending and coordinating Neighborhood Watch meetings; and performing numerous other activities in support of community policing.

Examples of different working titles:

Academy Instructor
Accident Investigator
Assistant Training Coordinator
Beach Patrol Officer
Bike Officer
Community Relations Officer
Court Liaison Officer
Crime Analysis Detail Unit Officer
Desk Officer
Detective Trainee
Driver-Security Aide to Chief of Police and Mayor
Footbeat Officer
Helicopter Observer
Helicopter Pilot (Fixed Wing Aircraft)
Honor Guard
Jeopardy Officer

Kit-room Officer
Legislative Officer
Medical Liaison Evidence Officer
News Media Coordinator
Patrol Officer
Preliminary Investigator
Prostitution Enforcement Detail
Public Affairs Officer
Range Officer
Recruitment Officer
Senior Lead Officer
Training Coordinator
Two-Wheel Traffic Enforcement
Unusual Occurrence Planning Officer Warrant Service
Vice Investigator
Youth Services Officer


Much like a department manager, a Sergeant I supervises a squad or detail of Police Officers and/or civilian employees. A Sergeant I is required to provide instruction to assigned staff in the operation of their required duties. The basic capacity of a Sergeant I is field supervision, but administrative and specialized assignments are also available. Some Sergeants perform initial and follow-up investigation of crimes and perform surveillance work to detect or prevent crime.

Examples of different working titles:

Community Relations Officer
Court Liaison Supervisor
Discrimination Complaint Investigator
Division Complaint Sergeant
Drug Testing Supervisor
Field Supervisor
Fleet Coordinator
Helicopter Supervisor

Jail Supervisor
Mayors Security Aide
Mounted Unit Officer
Officer-In-Charge of Specialized Unit
Patrol Field Supervisor
Staff Researcher
Two-Wheel Motor Supervisor


Promoting from a Sergeant I to a Sergeant II only requires a pay grade advancement interview. A Sergeant II position is a supervisory position with specialized and administrative assignments. A Sergeant II supervises a group of Police Officers and/or civilian employees and instructs them in the performance of their assigned duties.

Examples of different working titles:

Assistant Patrol Watch Commander
Chief's Aide
Community Relations
Complaint Investigator
Field Supervisor Crime Task Force

Geographic Vice Supervisor
Labor Relations
Recruitment Supervisor
Training Coordinator


From a Police Officer III classification, you can also choose to promote to a Detective I position after successfully completing a competitive Detective's examination and interview. A Detective I is often assigned to a specialized division and is responsible for responding to the scenes of crimes, conducting preliminary and follow-up investigations, preparing the required investigative reports, preparing a biopsy of the report, apprehending the suspect, preparing the case for successful prosecution, and testifying in court. Detectives may supervise and/or coordinate the activities of a detail or unit engaged in investigating various crimes or activities. Examples of the assignments in this class are undercover narcotics investigators, internal affairs investigators, and traffic accident follow-up investigators. On occasion, a Detective travels to other parts of the country or overseas to extradite suspects wanted in connection with crimes committed in the City of Los Angeles. In this capacity, a Detective maintains liaison with international law enforcement agencies.

Examples of different working titles:

Court Liaison
Follow-up Crime Investigator
Narcotics Officer


A Detective II is the next promotional step in the Detective series. It is a supervisory position and is responsible for training and overseeing the activities of Detectives I and Police Officers. Some of the specialized duties performed by a Detective II include: conduct narcotics investigations, perform surveillance, and establish and maintain contacts with informants; investigate gang related crimes; respond to and investigate scenes of crimes such as homicide, theft, robbery, auto theft, illegal sex related activities; and, crimes committed by juveniles. In addition, a Detective II may perform court liaison functions; act as a Watch Commander; provide electronic equipment expertise to conduct surveillance and polygraph examinations; investigate applicants and businesses who have applied for Police Commission permits to conduct business; investigate child abuse cases; provide expert testimony in court; and, conduct investigations of crimes committed by gangs of foreign origin.

Examples of different working titles:

Commission Investigator
Detective Supervisor
Drug Testing Supervisor

Electronic Surveillance Officer
Field Specialized Detective
Gang Coordinator Supervisor Youth Program Supervisor


A Detective III is responsible for serving as a leader in high profile cases of major robbery, fraud, and homicide in addition to the duties of a Detective I and II. A Detective III reviews reports prepared by his/her subordinates, informs the commanding officer of the status of the pending investigations, provides technical expertise, trains and supervises newly assigned Detectives and civilian personnel, and performs related administrative duties.

Examples of different working titles:

Detective Supervisor
Judicial Liaison Officer

Narcotics Detective
Polygraph Unit


After serving two years as a Sergeant or Detective, you will become eligible to promote to the next classification on the ladder upon a successful completion of a competitive Lieutenant's examination and interview. Similar to a Second Level Manager for a large corporation, a Lieutenant I manages, plans, organizes, and directs the work of both sworn and civilian employees engaged in the operation of an assigned watch or a 24-hour team in a police division or an investigational unit or detail. Lieutenants are in-charge of a specialized division or section, where they must apply sound supervisory principles and techniques to build and maintain an effective work force.

Examples of different working titles:

Division Watch Commander
Officer-in-Charge of a Specialized Section


Promoting from a Lieutenant I to a Lieutenant II requires an interview only. A Lieutenant II may assist detective divisions' commanding officers or act as Section Officer-in-Charge of various specialized entities throughout LAPD. Depending upon the division of assignment, a Lieutenant II may supervise the activities of his or her subordinates; coordinates specialized training and ensures sufficient stock of tactical supplies and equipment; maintains liaison with appropriate Department entities; acts as a leader at the scene of crime; and/or reviews and completes all reports for the approval of a Captain.

Examples of different working titles:

Division Watch Commander
Officer-in-Charge of a Specialized Section


Upon completion of one year as a Lieutenant, you can advance to a Captain I level, after passing a competitive Captain's examination and interview. A Captain I, resembling a District Manager of a large corporation, serves as a Commanding Officer of a patrol division. The Captain is responsible for inspecting and overseeing the functions of the patrol officers and detectives to ensure compliance with the Department policies, procedures, regulations, and standards; supervising the administrative and support functions of non-sworn personnel; inspecting personnel, facilities, and tactics for safety and/or training needs; maintaining liaison with numerous municipal, governments, civic organizations, and private citizens to establish and maintain rapport to facilitate Department functions and to promote neighborhood safety and community policing programs.

Examples of different working titles:

Patrol Division Commanding Officer
Employee Relations Administrator


Promoting from a Captain I to a Captain II requires an interview only. As a Commanding Officer of a specialized division, the Captain II plans, organizes, and directs the work of sworn and civilian employees engaged in the operation of a specialized or support division and applies sound supervisory principles and techniques in building and maintaining an effective work force. Each higher level of a Police Captain assumes a more complex and difficult level of responsibility within their assignment.

Examples of different working titles:

Specialized Division Commanding Officer


Promoting from a Captain II to a Captain III requires an interview only. A Captain III is in charge of a geographical area or specialized division, where they perform duties similar to a Captain I and II at a higher level of responsibility. In addition, a Captain III performs administrative duties such as reviewing correspondence, budget requests, and activity reports; interviewing and hiring sworn and civilian personnel for their division; acting as a Chief's Duty Officer (off-hours); teaching classes at the Police Academy; and assuming the responsibilities of a Police Commander in his/her absence.

Examples of different working titles:

Area Commanding Officer
Specialized Division Commanding Officer


Completion of probation as a Captain and successfully passing the Commander's examination and interview is necessary to promote to the next step in the ladder. A Commander, comparable to a Regional Vice President of a large corporation, acts as the Assistant Commanding Officer at one of the four geographic Bureaus and Operations-Headquarters Bureau. A Commander oversees and directs the activities of patrol officers within geographic areas; coordinates detectives' investigative efforts within the City of Los Angeles; and, exercises functional supervision over officers engaged in traffic enforcement functions; maintains contact with civic leaders and community groups within their geographic bureaus; responsible for ensuring compliance with Department policies and procedures by personnel under their supervision; conducts audits of operations; and, makes recommendations to higher management for improving productivity and increasing efficiency.

Examples of different working titles:

Assistant Bureau Commanding Officer
Chief of Staff
Commanding Officer
Specialized Commander


After one year of experience as a Commander, one can promote to a Deputy Chief I position. A role similar to an Assistant General Manager or Vice President of a corporation, the Deputy Chief I is the second highest rank in the Police Department and reports directly to the Chief of Police. They direct the activities of a geographic or functional bureau or an office consisting of several bureaus of the Police Department.

Examples of different working titles:

Operations Bureau Commanding Officer
Specialized Bureau Commanding Officer


The next level in the promotional ladder is the Deputy Chief II. The Deputy Chief II keeps the Police Chief informed of all operational activities on a day-to-day basis. The Deputy Chief II directs the activities of a geographic or functional bureau or an office consisting of several bureaus of the Police Department.

Examples of different working titles:

Assistant ChiefDeputy Chief of Chief of Staff
Deputy Chief of Headquarters Bureau
Deputy Chief of Human Resources


The Chief of Police (COP) is the highest-ranking officer in the Police Department. As a General Manager of the Police Department, the COP is responsible for the planning, efficient administration, and operation of the Police Department under the authority of the Board of Police Commissioners. In this capacity, the COP directs, plans, and coordinates the enforcement of the penal divisions of the City Charter, the ordinances of the City, and the laws of the state and nation for the purpose of protecting persons and property and for the preservation of the peace of the community. The COP is responsible for testifying before the City Council, the state and national legislative bodies on law enforcement matters of importance to the City of Los Angeles; and, proposing new or amending existing legislation which could have an impact on law enforcement.

*Negotiated Salary to be determined by experience

For more detailed information about the job descriptions, please visit LAPD's website: