A Note on Supernatural Awareness in the police force…
Among the ranks of any given precinct a comparative minority of its agents know about the supernatural. Almost all of these knowledgeable few are player characters who have experienced in-game events leading to their education in the darker side of the "criminal" underworld. Their knowledge, naturally, is flawed, and these individuals don't exactly trumpet what they've discovered to their fellow officers for fear of being thought over-worked and in need of some forced time off at best, and dangerously insane at worst. What these individuals know is bits and pieces about the supernatural world, and they probably keep it to themselves, quietly following hunches rather than trying to convince other cops that a ghost committed the murder. (How would you like to be at a crime scene with a partner who looks you in the eye and says, "It's probably a vampire, Roberts. Or maybe a werewolf."?)
The L.A.P.D. patrol officers work five days a week. First Shift reports for duty at 6 A.M. and works through 2 P.M. Second Shift works from 2 P.M. to 10 P.M., and is the busiest and heaviest-staffed shift. Third Shift (“midwatch” or “mids”) comes on duty at 10 P.M. and goes home at 6 A.M. Shift assignments change every three months, with selection order determined by seniority. Many married officers prefer First Shift so they can maintain some semblance of a normal family life, while the adrenaline junkies like Second Shift. Third Shift is the refuge of the tenured, wise and independent cops because the brass never works Third and the end of the shift is usually slow enough for an officer to get caught up on paperwork. Conversely, on First and Second Shifts, activity increases as the shift draws to an end, leaving officers less likely to be able to finish their paperwork and go home on time.
Each precinct’s patrol officers fall under the command of a captain, who typically spends First Shift in his office at the precinct house, handling the administrative side of the precinct. If the captain shows up during another shift, there’s trouble on the wind. Rank-and-file officers can go a year without exchanging words with him if they avoid extremes of performance.
Within each precinct, patrol responsibilities are subdivided among squads. Each squad consists of eight to 20 officers, one or two sergeants as field supervisors and a lieutenant. Most squads are assigned geographically by parts of the precinct (“2nd Precinct North squad” or “8th Precinct Docks squad”), but some receive assignments based on specific areas of their precincts that need special attention, such as housing projects. Precincts form other squads either temporarily or permanently for special duty — a good example of the latter is the mountain-bike squads that the Santa Monica precincts deploy for additional mobility in pedestrian-heavy areas. Each squad further breaks down its area into individual beats, which are the default patrol areas of individual officers when they aren’t responding to a call for service.
All Police Characters are required to be at least Twenty-One (25) years of age, have a High School Diploma or GED, have no criminal record, have a good work history, be able to pass a psychological exam, and be able to pass an extensive background check (which requires a legal identity). This means no hot App4 teenagers, no Derangements, no emotional or mental Flaws.
Attributes & Skills
In game terms, a mortal character who wants to enter the L.A.P.D. Academy must have no Attribute lower than 2 except Manipulation, which may be 1. Furthermore, she must have a minimum Willpower of 4 and again, no Derangements of any kind. All of the other requirements described above fall under character history and Flaws. The L.A.P.D. Academy’s training and final exams guarantee that any graduate has at least the following minimum traits (thus, any L.A.P.D. character must meet these criteria) in addition to the minimum scores required to enter the academy in the first place.
Police Characters with no Rank (Police) start as standard Police Officers. For more information on what each level of Rank represents, please check out the section on Ranks found below.
Beat Cop (rank 0)
- Required Mental Abilities: Investigation 1, Medicine 1, Academics 1, Law 2.
- Required Physical Abitlities: Drive 1, and a total of five points between Athletics, Brawl and Firearms with at least one point in each.
- Required Social Abilities: Subterfuge 1 and either Empathy 1 or Intimidation 1.
An officer with prior experience and training from another department who wants to transfer into the L.A.P.D must also meet these requirements.
Corporal (Rank 1)
- Required Attributes: Intelligence 3, Wits 3, Self-control 3 and Manipulation 3.
- Required Mental Skills: Academics 1, Investigation 3, Law 3.
- Required Social Skills: Five points among Empathy, Intimidation and Subterfuge.
This ensures that the character possesses the basic skills necessary to become a corporal. In addition, assignment to some units (required to exceed rank 0) requires the following additional expertise:
- Homicide: Medicine 2 or Science 2
- Robbery: None
- Property Crimes: None
- Narcotics: Streetwise 3
- Special Victims: Medicine 1, Empathy 3
- White-Collar Crimes: Either Academics 2 with an Accounting Specialty, Computer 3 or Crafts 2 with an Accounting Specialty
- Vice: Intimidation 2 and Streetwise 2
- Intelligence: Contacts, Allies or Network Background at 4
- Organized Crime Task Force: Politics 2
- Gang Task Force: Streetwise 2
Crime Scene Investigators (CSI)
The success of forensic science television shows makes CSIs popular character choices. As described above, the reality of CSI work is quite different from Hollywood’s portrayals. As civilian employees of the L.A.P.D., CSIs are not issued weapons (any L.A.P.D. CSI who carried a gun while working a crime scene would be fired for allowing chemical contamination of evidence), and they aren't empowered to make arrests. CSI characters can expect to sit back and watch sworn officers do a lot of the work.
A criticism of television shows using CSIs is the depiction of police procedure, which are decidedly lacking in realism. For instance, the show's characters not only investigate crime scenes ("process", as their real-world counterparts do), but they also conduct raids, engage in suspect pursuit and arrest, interrogate suspects, and solve cases, which falls under the responsibility of uniformed officers and detectives, not CSI personnel. Although some detectives are also registered CSIs, this is exceedingly rare in actual life. It is considered an inappropriate and improbable practice to let CSI personnel to be involved in detective work as it would compromise the impartiality of scientific evidence and would be impracticably time-consuming.
With that being said, CSIs are still viable characters, as their varied technical skills can grant them access to clues that sworn officers may not have the training to find or the knowledge to recognize as significant. Most of the arguments for putting together officers from different branches of the department work equally well for CSIs. To be hired as an L.A.P.D. CSI, a character must meet the following minimum standards:
- Attributes: Intelligence 3, Wits 3 and Self-control 3
- Mental Skills: Academics 2, Computer 2, Investigation 3 and a total of 5 points between Medicine and Science
- Psych Profile: Willpower 5 and no severe derangements.
All starting Police Characters (Except CSIs) are issued a single set of standard equipment. This equipment cannot be changed at character creation, only through roleplay and equipment requests during the game. The equipment is as follows:
- Police Equipment: Mossberg Model 590 Shotgun (in Vehicle), Glock 22 Pistol, Nightstick, Pepper Spray, Bulletproof Vest (in Vehicle), Kevlar Vest (Thin), Duty Belt w/ Gear, Police Car access w/ Gear, Badge.
- Duty Belt: Two Pistol Clips, Handcuffs, Flashlight, Personal Radio, Surgical Gloves.
- Police Car: Bolt Cutters, Crime Scene Tape, Criminal Code Book, Crowbar, Evidence Kit, First-Aid Kit, Flares, Maps, Narcotics Kit, Police Forms, Rain Gear, Reflective Vests, Survival Kit (Urban), Tarp, Traffic Cones.
Anything above and beyond that listed above must either be requisitioned, or is limited to special units (such as S.W.A.T., Ranks higher than 0, Mounted Police, etc.).
Additional Information and Guidelines
Police Combat Training
Police Officers have access to training in numerous combat-related Skills. This is so they can better perform their duties, including upholding the law and stopping criminals. However, this doesn't give them carte blanche to become killing machines and seriously harm anyone that is breaking the law. There are many limitations and restrictions on what is taught, how it may be used, etc. A few things to note:
The limitations set below are the limits on what is taught specifically by police training, not the limit a character can have the stat. He may gain a max of 3 brawl from police training, for example, but can gain other dots elsewhere.
Police are trained to subdue their opponent, not beat them to within an inch of their life. Brawl is limited to three (3) and a specialty of Grappling with Standard Police Training.
Police are trained to shoot to incapacitate (shooting the legs of a running target, for example), preceded by a single verbal warning. Firearms is limited to three (3) and a specialty of Pistols with Standard Police Training. The only time it is appropriate to shoot to kill any perpetrator is when there is inarguable danger posed to civilian or officer life.
Police are trained in hand-to-hand weaponry the same as with Brawl, with a concentration on disabling their opponent, not killing them. Melee is limited to two (2) and a specialty of Clubs with Standard Police Training.
Any training in other fields, or beyond the levels provided, requires the Officer to find their own trainer, pay for it out of their own pocket, and learn on their own time. Also, the use of non-supported techniques in an inappropriate manner (such as Brawl attacks meant to be lethal or purposeful killing shots without inarguable cause) may result in forced retirement, dismissal or prison time.
Those who wish to carry additional equipment must file a requisition with their department. In this paperwork, they must include what the equipment is, why they need it, and references to past incidents or current cases where the equipment is necessary. Without a reason for the equipment, it will not be issued; however, having Allies (Police) equal to the Cost of the equipment may allow you to get the item with incomplete justification.
The equipment that a Police Character might requisition generally depends on their Rank in the Department. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Rank 0: Telescopic Baton, Hollowpoint Rounds, Fiber-Optic Sight, Light Mount, Speedloader, Zip Ties
Rank 1: .45 ACP Pistol, Colt M1911A1 Pistol, .40 S&W Pistol, 9mm Luger Pistol, Beretta Model 92 Pistol, Glock 17 Pistol, .357 Magnum Revolver, Frangible Rounds, Riot Control Rounds, Bulletproof Vest Accessories, Gunsmithing Kit, Laser Sight
Rank 2: Taser, Stun Gun, Police Package (Detectives only: Mid-Size Cars, Light Pickups & Jeeps, Full-Size Vans & Minivans)
Rank 3: Armalite AR-15 Assault Rifle, Colt M4 Assault Rifle, Police Package (Detectives only: Performance Mid-Size & Full-Size Cars, Heavy Pickups & Off-Road SUVs, Delivery Vans & Commuter SUVs)
Rank 4: Police Package (Detectives only: Sports Cars)
Rank 5: Police Package (Detectives only: Performance SUVs)
Rank 6: Anything.
Rank and Status
Rank supercedes Department.
L.A.P.D. Ranks and Demographics
From lowest to highest, the ranks that an L.A.P.D. officer can attain are:
- Chief of Police (Background: Rank 6)
- Deputy Chief (Background: Rank 5)
- Commander (Background: Rank 5)
- Captain (Background: Rank 4)
- Lieutenant (Background: Rank 3)
- Sergeant (Background: Rank 2)
- Corporal (Background: Rank 1)
- Police Officer - Beat-Cop (Background: Rank 0)
- Other positions, non-law-enforcement (Unranked)
What follows is a list of the approximate sway a character holds dependent on their Rank, as well as any specific rules or restrictions regarding that Rank.
Rank 0: Police Officer, Beat Cop - At this point, the Police Officer is restricted to patrolling their district, stopping any crimes from occurring within their jurisdiction, and answering calls from the dispatcher. Investigation is generally left to the higher ranks, and the Officer's presence at any major crime scenes is generally limited to questioning and security. The maximum Resources provided by this level is One (1).
Rank 1: Corporal - While Senior Police Officers are similar to standard Police Officers, they hold rank above them and are given more leeway in their duties. Also, they may now take the test to join the ranks of Detectives (Detective is an honorary title, rather than a rank in and of itself). The maximum Resources provided by this level is One (1). Save for CSIs (who are unarmed and kept out of most police work), Corporals are not assigned to any specific department.
Status 2: Sergeant - The Police Officer now has the opportunity to join specific Departments, which can include working with animals (K-9 or Mounted Police), special vehicles (Air or Marine Patrols), or special training/forces (S.W.A.T.). With greater jurisdiction and investigative ability (within one's Department), comes more responsibility regarding high-priority crimes. The maximum Resources provided by this level is Two (2).
Status 3: Lieutenant - At this point, the Police Officer begins to take positions of authority within their Department and/or District. They are now responsible for insuring that those under them work at peak proficiency, and that the crime statistics within their Department/District do not increase. At this point, general patrols almost never occur, as they are solely assigned to whatever duties or investigations their Department requires. The maximum Resources provided by this level is Two (2).
Status 4: Captain - Once this rank is reached, the Police Officer is now responsible for an entire District, or a section of a Department (such as Homicide). This is mostly used by weary officers as a "desk job", but more proactive Captains use their newfound authority to kick out the best policework of their lives, working hands-on with their department in the field. If crime statistics in their jurisdiction don't grow better under the Officer's supervision, they risk being demoted or transferred. The maximum Resources provided by this level is Three (3).
Status 5: Chief - The Police Officer is now in charge of an entire Division within the Police Department (such as Patrol) or a specific Department (such as S.W.A.T.). While minor complaints and problems may not be directed to them, the overall efficiency of that Division/Department is placed in their hands; the Superintendents above them, and the Chief of Police himself will respond if the standards aren't kept or exceeded. The maximum Resources provided by this level is Three (3).
How do I become involved in a crime scene?
Quite simply, an officer on patrol can either witness a crime in action (ex: Drunken Driver), a crime about to happen (ex: Burglar), or be called to a scene by the dispatcher (ex: 911 Call). You will not be called to a crime scene days later (even one day later) without the captain of the department the crime related to personally requesting you, as the work will have already been done.
Who can I stop/detain?
CSIs may not stop and detain anyone. They are not permitted to otherwise subdue, hold, arrest or interrogate any individual. CSIs are expected to contact dispatch and get out of dodge.
Other officers must have "reasonable suspicion" to stop an individual. This is a broad term that has no set definition, but generally means that the officer has suspicion about the person based upon specific facts (ex: A description is given regarding a robber, and the person matches that description). If someone is stopped, the officer's report must include the facts that led to the "reasonable suspicion".
What can I do with someone I've stopped/detained, and how long can they be detained?
A police officer can only frisk a person they've detained, patting down the outside of their clothing, if they believe the suspect might be carrying a weapon. They cannot be searched, nor can any of their property be taken, unless they are being placed under arrest - and if you place a person under arrest, you are required by law to recite the Miranda Warning to the perpetrator. If you do not recite the Miranda Warning, the perpetrator has been unlawfully arrested and will be released regardless of charges. You will also very likely be removed from duty.
Most suspects cannot be detained longer than is required to present ID, be frisked, and answer a few questions. However, if it's believed they may have information relating to a case or crime, they can be brought down to the police station for questioning; those that refuse to abide by the police officer's request to go to the station are subject to arrest for the crime.
Those detained for questioning do not have to answer any questions, as covered in "Who can I question?". They may only be held for a limited amount of time (set by the Captain of the Department, or, if appealed, the District Attorney), depending on the severity of crime they're believed to have information on (or be linked to). Once this time is up, they must be allowed to leave and go about their business.
Who can I arrest, and what is the procedure?
An officer must have probable cause to arrest an individual. This is a broad term that has no set defenition, but generally means the officer believes the person has committed a crime based upon specific facts (ex: A person is pulled over for driving wildly, and they show signs of intoxication or have alcohol in their possession). This procedure can be bypassed by a Warrant, but these must be issued ahead of time by the courts.
Once "probable cause" has been determined, or a Warrant is issued, the Police Officer must announce to the person their presence (if the suspect is unaware), what crime they are being arrested for, and recite the Miranda Warning. If the person refuses to consent to the Arrest, they may be disabled using "Reasonable Force"; once more, this is a broad term that has no set definition, but generally means whatever force is required to stop the suspect from fleeing, harming others, or harming themselves (ex: A person charged with assault could be tackled to the ground, but not run over or shot; however, the latter might be permissible if they are armed, have shown intent and capability to harm and could potentially take human life).
Who/what/where can I search, and what can I seize?
Police Officers are restricted in what they can search for on a person, in their vehicle, or in a private building, as well as what they can seize if they find anything. Most of this resolves around a Search Warrant, which must be issued by the courts, similar to an Arrest Warrant.
Police can only enter a private building with a Search Warrant, permission of the owner (whether they're the suspect or not), or if in "Hot Pursuit" of a suspect who enters it. However, upon arrival, only items in plain view may be seized; everything else requires the location to be secured and a Search Warrant.
Police can only search a person's vehicle with a Search Warrant, permission of the owner (whether they're the suspect or not), or if the person is under arrest.
Police can only search a person with a Search Warrant, their permission, or if the person is under arrest. This does not include "frisking", which is covered under stopping/detaining.
Police can only seize property that is either related to the crime in question, or is other contraband (ex: Searching for a weapon and drugs are found). Regardless, the items must be in plain view (ex: A drunk driver's beer) or the Officer must have a Search Warrant (ex: A drug dealer's stash hidden in his closet). All seized property must be properly inventoried and recorded.
Who can I question?
Any person can, and should, be questioned regarding the crime. However, any person can choose to refuse to answer a question at any time, which is perfectly legal under their Constitutional Rights. If a suspect is arrested, they must be read their Miranda Warning prior to any questioning:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.
- Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?
If the suspect understands these rights, interrogation can occur once they are in custody only if they waive their right to an attorney - which they may choose to unwaive at any time.
What happens to the suspect after they've been arrested?
Once arrested, the defendant is brought to a police facility to be booked. This usually involves taking their personal information, giving them an opportunity to read and sign a document regarding their rights, and allowing the defendant to make a single phone call. In addition, photographs and fingerprints will be taken to match to current records. Once more, the defendant is searched, their belongings inventoried, recorded and stored by the Police.
Once booked, in the case of Misdemeanor charges many suspects are simply given the date of their first court appearance, instructed that they must appear on that date (or risk a court default judgement), and then released. Many defendants pay a fee (depending on the charges), known as posting bail, and agree to appear before the court on a set date. Once their court date is finished, the bail is usually refunded. Other suspects sign a Personal Recognizance Bond, in which they agree to appear before court; if they do not appear, not only do they risk whatever judgement the court has, they must also pay a specified amount.
Other defendants are held in the holding cells until the next possible court session, where they are delievered into the custody of the courts (ex: Felony Charges). The law requires that any person in custody be brought before a judge without unnecessary delay, however, some courts may not be in session on certain days or at certain times. That means if you get there on a Friday, you're stuck all weekend till the Courts are functional again the next weekday no matter what you did. Once brought before the judge they are informed of the charges, advised of the right to counsel, and have Bail set; sometimes there is no Bail, such as the case with serious charges such as murder.
Evidence Analysis Mechanics
Presented here are the skills and working time required for various evidence analysis tasks, as well as the average turnaround time for lab work that characters don’t handle themselves. All rolls use Intelligence plus the indicated Skill (see chart).
Task Skill Work Turnaround Autopsy/determine cause of death Medicine 8 hours 3 days Ballistic matching/identify firearm Science 8 hours 1 month Blood toxicology/list substances in bloodstream Medicine 8 hours 3 days Cast/identify footprint or tire track Investigation 2 days 1 month Catalog computer data Computer 12 hours 2 weeks Chemical analysis/identify unknown substance Science 3 days 2 months Decrypt Computer data Computer 12 hours 2 weeks Dental identification of body Medicine 8 hours 2 days Dental identification of body (victim totally unknown) Medicine 2 months 1 year Detect chemical residue at scene Investigation 4 hours 8 hours DNA matching Medicine 2 weeks 7 months Fiber/trace matching Crafts 4 days 3 months Fingerprint matching Investigation 30 minutes 2 hours Fingerprinting at crime scene Investigation 2 hours 6 hours Verify authenticity of possibly forged item Crafts 1 week 3 months Voice analysis/voiceprint matching Computer 1 day 2 months
Preliminary evidence work can take place at a crime scene, but intensive analysis has to happen in a well-equipped crime lab. If the characters don’t have the leverage to bump up the lab’s priority on a given procedure or the skills and access necessary to do the work themselves, they’ll have to wait for test results.
In addition to the detailed work listed above, cops can perform some preliminary field tests themselves. Every patrol and traffic vehicle’s standard equipment includes a field drug test kit. Checking a given substance sample to see if it contains narcotics takes about five minutes and a Wits + Investigation roll. Also, every officer is trained to take a suspect’s fingerprints as part of the booking process, requiring a Wits + Investigation roll to generate useful fingerprints. (A field fingerprinting kit imparts a +2 modifier to this roll, while the more sophisticated desk arrays at precinct houses or in jails offer a +4 modifier.)
Common Task Mechanics
With a successful Intelligence + Computer roll, a character can perform any of the following tasks through a Mobile Data Terminal (MDT). Unless otherwise noted, assume that the task in question requires two to five minutes (response times are variable depending on how many data requests the network is handling at once). A user unfamiliar with the software (such as a civilian who shouldn’t be using the system) suffers a –3 penalty. A trained officer suffers no penalty to this roll for lacking the Computer Skill, however.
In most cases, the following mechanics indicate a variety of “always-on” bonuses for the basic task in question, such as VIN or license plate numbers. Many of the following tasks are all but impossible without the requisite piece of information, yielding at least a –5 penalty, assuming the Storyteller wishes to allow the task at all.
- Check vehicle registration: The character “runs the plates” (or vehicle identification number) of a specific vehicle. Data returned via this request includes vehicle registration, the owner’s criminal history, whether the owner has a concealed handgun permit and any crime or accident reports in which the vehicle appears. Having the license plate number or VIN offers a +2 bonus to the roll.
- Records search: Starting with a name, the character searches for matching individuals who maintain residence within the L.A.P.D’s jurisdiction, as well as checking national databases for felony records. A partial name or alias inflicts a –2 penalty to the search, while the subject’s driver’s license or other identification provides a +2 bonus. Success yields the search target’s current address of residence, criminal record, vehicle registrations, history of previous official contacts with the L.A.P.D and concealed handgun permit status. If the target has a criminal record or a weapons permit, the system also displays the most recent mug shot or ID photo on file.
- Check call history: The character checks the history of 911 calls from, and emergency responses to, a given address. Most uses of this system occur when an officer is en route to a call and wants to know if she’s likely to walk into something like a domestic violence situation or a crack house. The address itself provides a +2 bonus to this roll.
- Map route: Given any two points within the L.A.P.D’s jurisdiction, the character can create a street map showing the least-time route between them, as well as alternate routes. This function doesn’t require connection to the network and takes 30 seconds. Using this map to get from Point A to Point B quickly provides a bonus equal to the number of successes on the roll to appropriate Drive rolls. Other functions that don’t provide mechanical bonuses include finding alternate routes for diverting traffic around accident scenes and marking the specific coordinates of things such as street construction and undercover narcotics operations.
- Distribute photo: A digital camera enables the character to quickly copy a photo - for example, a parent’s picture of a missing child or a driver’s license dropped by a fleeing suspect - and distribute the photo across the network as needed.
- Instant message: The network provides car-to-car or beat-wide instant messaging capability. While this is available as an emergency backup in case voice communications go down, the primary use of this functionality is for low priority questions (“Anyone know if a bag of whole blood is a controlled substance that would give me PC to search this car?”) and personal message traffic (“Let’s get a sandwich once you finish with that accident report.”). Wise officers remember that the channel is logged at headquarters and keep the chatter clean. This function requires no roll to use and takes as long as any other instant messaging.
Communication & Terminology
Police 10/11 and Penal Codes: The following is a list of police, fire and emergency codes listed in numerical order.