Parker Center — end of an LA era

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After over 60 years of service, on Tuesday, January 15th at 2 PM, the Los Angeles Police Department closed the tinted, large glass doors for the last time to its headquarters in Parker Center, located downtown at 150 North Los Angeles Street.

Originally called the Police Administration Building (PAB), groundbreaking for the Center occurred on December 30, 1952, and construction was completed in 1955. The architect was Welton Becket. The building combined police facilities that had been located throughout the Civic Center area. The location was previously home to the Olympic Hotel.

The PAB was a state of the art facility, and the envy of other police departments across the nation. So great was the demand for public tours that the Department assigned policewomen full-time for the first year to give tours several times a day.

It was later renamed in honor of Chief William H. Parker, who died in office on July 16, 1966 from a heart attack. Chief since 1950, he helped establish the LAPD’s reputation as a world leader in law enforcement.

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Soon after his death, the Los Angeles City Council renamed the building “Parker Center.” The building was one of the sites of unrest during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, following a not-guilty verdict for the four police officers involved in the Rodney King matter.

A MEDIA STAR

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Probably Parker Center’s greatest early notoriety began with the fifth season in 1955 of the television drama by Jack Webb’s Mark VII Productions, Dragnet, and again in the late 1960’s when the show returned to TV, this time in color.

 

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This was only the start. The PAB appeared in several establishing shots for the Perry Mason TV series between 1958 and 1966. This was followed by the popular NBC drama Hunter that also used the building in its sixth and seventh seasons, as did the TNT series The Closer. Parker Center is also featured as one of the main locations in Police Quest: Open Season, the fourth installment of the Police Quest series, a 1993 PC video game by Sierra Entertainment.

Parker Center is often mentioned in the novels of the Harry Bosch series, written by Michael Connelly.

Featured as a backdrop in countless other movie and television features over the decades, Parker Center was a place where the line between art and real-life truly blurred.

At times art imitated life, and at times life imitated art in the fictional and real life dramas that unfolded at Parker Center. High profile investigations took place there, and it was not unusual for occasional big-name celebrities to be booked into the Parker Center Jail—tagged “the glass house” by arrestees because of its large glass-walled holding tanks—on anything from minor charges up to homicide.

It also was the scene of occasional public protests and raucous police commission meetings. If the PAB’s walls were to talk, how much they would have to say!

 

NEW HEADQUARTERS

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With time, the Parker Center became outdated and was in need of expensive seismic retrofits. After considering a number of downtown sites for a new facility, the city council selected a property directly south of City Hall, Caltrans‘ former Los Angeles headquarters. Ground was broken for the new building in January 2007. It was dedicated on October 24, 2009.

Since 2009, Parker Center continued to house portions of the Department’s Scientific Investigations Division (SID). This division has since been transferred to the nearby C. Erwin Piper Technical Building.

Until recently LAPD’s Robbery – Homicide Division operated from a Parker Center annex.

The heliport at the new facility is marked with an ‘H’. The Parker Center’s heliport was marked with a ‘5’.

About jesswaid

Currently, I write police procedural novels with the stories taking place in Hollywood during the early 1960s; a period when I was a street cop there. I've moved to Mexico to be closer to my hobby of studying Mexican history. My friend and fellow author, Professor Michael Hogan, is my mentor. I am planning to write a three-part epic story that takes place in the mid-nineteenth century. What has inspired me was hearing about Los Ninos Heroes, martyrs of the Battle of Chapultepec. Also, my father was born in Concordia, Mexico and knowing his family history is an added incentive.

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