Thursday, October 30, 2008

Always Bring Your Gun

The L.A. Times just finished up its crackerjack seven-part series about the LAPD's Gangster Squad (read about the series' genesis here). The covert group of cops was formed in immediate post-WW II L.A. to "keep East Coast Mafia out of L.A," by any means necessary. The photo (left) is from 1947, and shows crime boss Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, permanently relaxing on the couch of his "swank Beverly Hills home."

Haven't had time to read the whole thing yet, but first examinations are promising. There are also a good amount of video interviews and historic photos, along with a massive amount of text and a sweet organizational/conspiracy chart showing who was allied with (or scamming) whom. Hooray noir nerds.

From the series' first installment:
There had been three more mob rub-outs around L.A. since then, including the shotgunning of two Chicago men outside a Hollywood apartment. That one generated a "Gangsters in Gambling War" headline that was a prime reason Police Chief C.B. Horrall wanted those 18 cops to see what a Thompson submachine gun looked like.

"You'll be working with these," Burns told them.

The deal was: If they signed on, they'd continue to belisted on the rosters of their old stations. They'd have no office, only two unmarked cars. They'd almost never make arrests. They'd simply gather "intelligence" and be available for other chores. In effect, they would not exist.

Burns gave them a week to ponder advice from an old lieutenant at the 77th, who said an assignment like that could get you in good with the chief. "Or you could end up down in San Pedro, walking a beat in a fog."

After the week, only seven came back, making a squad of eight, counting Burns.

"We did a lot of things that we'd get indicted for today," said Sgt. Jack O'Mara.

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