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David Griffith

David Griffith

David Griffith has been editor of POLICE Magazine since December 2001. He brings more than 25 years of experience on magazines and newspapers to POLICE. A Maggie award-winning journalist, his byline has appeared on hundreds of articles in POLICE and other national magazines.



Melanie Basich

Melanie Basich

Managing Editor Melanie Basich joined POLICE Magazine in 2000 (when her last name was still Hamilton). An award-winning journalist, she has covered such topics as agency budgets, officer suicide, emerging law enforcement technologies, and active shooter tactics. She writes and manages the product section of POLICE.
Editor's Notes

'End of Watch' Based On LAPD Cop's Patrol Duty

David Ayer, the screenwriter and director, worked closely with law enforcement to make an authentic film.

September 20, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of Open Road Films.
Photo courtesy of Open Road Films.

Open Road's "End of Watch" was based on the experiences of Captain Jamie FitzSimons, a former LAPD patrol officer who worked South Los Angeles neighborhoods in the 1990s. This is the primary reason the movie rings true with an authentic approach to police work.

FitzSimons now oversees the patrol operations of the Summit County (Colo.) Sheriff's Office, but before that he patrolled the 77th, Southwest, Rampart, and Wilshire divisions. He also worked as a narcotics investigator in the Newton Division south of downtown where the "End of Watch" story takes place.

The movie follows Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña), two gutsy, honest coppers searching "Shootin' Newton" for "dope, money, and guns—all the major food groups."

A vehicle stop leads to the seizure of drugs and "Liberace's AK." A welfare check at a home leads to the discovery of a storeroom of drugs and bodies. The Sinaloa Cartel then orders a "green light" on the officers.

The movie, somewhat surprisingly, was written and directed by David Ayer, who wrote the screenplay for "Training Day" (2001). Ayer also wrote screenplays for "Dark Blue" (2002) and "S.W.A.T." (2003) He also directed "Street Kings" (2008).

"End of Watch" is a far cry from "Training Day," arguably the most iconoclastic police corruption movie ever made.

In an interview with PoliceMag.com, Ayer said the movies offer widely divergent perspectives about police work and gang enforcement.

Ayer and FitzSimons met shortly after "Training Day" and became fast friends. FitzSimons, the technical advisor on "End of Watch" and "Street Kings," said Ayer is a friend of law enforcement and the new movie proves it.

"I don't think 'Training Day' was a slant on cops, it was a story from the street's perspective," said FitzSimons. "He's telling this story from the cops' perspective, and he's telling the story about how all this violence affects these guys in their personal lives."

After Ayer finished the script, the two men went through it line by line to make sure there were no mistakes about the details of police work.

"That's the difference between a good cop movie and a bad one," he said. "Cops are the worst critics. It just takes one little thing. It was really important that we got it right."

The movie may just be the first to prominently feature on-body police video cameras. Ayer based the cameras on the Scorpion digital video cameras worn by actual LAPD officers, and used footage from the devices in the movie.

FitzSimons also worked closely with Gyllenhaal and Peña so they would seem like real cops. He taught the actors how to hold their guns, how to wear a uniform, and even how to have "that cop swagger."

In the five months of pre-production, the actors went on numerous ride-alongs with three Southern California agencies. As a result, the movie tells its story in way that should delight members of the Thin Blue Line.

"It's definitely pro law enforcement," FitzSimons said. "Not only is it for cops, it's for the community at large to show them who we really are. We're not just a guy in a uniform."

Related:

End of Watch Podcast

End of Watch Trailer

Memorable Cop Movies

POLICE Readers Pick 'Dirty Harry' As Best Cop Movie Ever

Tags: LAPD, Cops In Movies, Mexican Drug Cartels


Comments (31)

Displaying 1 - 31 of 31

Capt David-retired LA Cou @ 9/21/2012 8:11 AM

I ran into Capt FitzSimons occasionally as we both climbed the ladder..Seemed to be a good cop..

Sgtbuck187 @ 9/23/2012 7:56 PM

Saw it yesterday. I walked the walk for 31 years and it was very well done. Brought back some deep feelings and memories and much to my surprise (and delight), there wasn't a dry eye in the theater. Congrats on a job well done.

Pup @ 9/24/2012 11:38 AM

Upon seeing the movie, it's pretty close to what we do during the course of our career. I only wish that several of the real cops on the streets were in good as shape and looked as sharp as the two actors. Finally, a positive for LAPD. Good Job!!!

S.S @ 9/24/2012 12:35 PM

I saw this movie over the weekend. Great movie. Right down to the lil things cops do. My wife saw it with me and during a few of the parts she looked right at me and said "that's you." Everyone was quiet during the ending. My wife cried at the end, and just held my hand. AWESOME movie.

S. @ 9/25/2012 6:56 AM

Saw the movie and left a little depressed. Not a movie to take the wife/husband or children of a LEO to. The bad guys have enough info as it is w/o showing what can be done to an FTO, a trainee and two fine hard chargers. If all of the events are based on actual incidents or a combination of same all the film does is show how much trouble Law Officers are in. LEO's are usually outgunned and outnumbered. Even though the bad guys/gals meet their makers near the end of the film ultimately the cartels won the battle with the murder of an LEO. I guess maybe the point of the film is to teach LEO's to be more careful and for the bad guys how easy it is to kill a cop.

S.S @ 9/25/2012 12:17 PM

its out there, and none of us like to think about it. I've worked for the city of El Paso's police dept.,and the border is right there. Yes we do get our share of threats and sometimes some of the dumbasses that we arrest talk shit about being part of a cartel, and that we better watch our back. For the most part it's b.s. but it's still always in the back of your mind. On a good note here in El Paso we've done a pretty good job of having the violence not spill over here into El Paso. We are the second safest city in the nation. Hard to believe but true.

PC @ 9/26/2012 6:18 AM

Saw the movie and loved it. It is about time someone made a good movie about our boys in blue. The actors did a great job of depicting the different sides of being a PO. I have been retired for a while from the other large LA area department (green & khaki) and to see the actors portraying the partnership, fun and/or funny side and personal side of being a COP brought back great memories. If FitzSimons was to make another movie I would be the first in line to pay to see it. $10.50 well spent.

Mike @ 9/26/2012 7:32 AM

Saw the Movie with my wife. Excellent movie and one I feel anyone who is married to or wants to be married to a LEO, should see. Not only do I think they nailed our personal relationships at work with our partners, but how some of the stuff we observe on a daily basis effects our life AFTER we are off shift. We are a unique breed and are part of a limited fraternity that only a handfull of us get to experience. There is a reason we can go to another city while on vacation, strike up a conversation with a LEO at a station house, and leave after exchanging contact info and feeling we have known each other for years. Be safe brothers.

Pup @ 9/26/2012 10:23 AM

****Officer Safety Alert**** I received an e-mail today regarding two incidents where our deputies (LASD) were involved in a fight with bad guys who either distroyed or threw their hand held radio. The incidents occurred after the EOW movie became public. In the movie scene, officers appeared helpless without their radio and were left to defend themsleves alone and without back-up.
Now, the dirtbags who watch the movie can evaluate our tactics and/or weaknesses. In real life, the real bad guys are now taking or distroying the deputies radio/mic to avoid help being summon.
I'm called a dinosaur, and I have noticed times haved changed. I grew up without the computer and hand held radio. So, to the new era of LEO, always use caution and don't rely on your radio to always get you help. Murphy's Law. If your radio is out of commision, think of options and don't panic. There's always a solution to the problem. God Bless and stay safe. Good movie.

Dan @ 9/26/2012 3:50 PM

Just saw the movie with my wife. Great film. Obviously there are some scenes that are exaggerated for the movie. For those that have seen it, we all know the scene with the BMA in the APT would never happen. Maybe in 90s LAPD days, but not now. Also, the 415 music call. Never would any LEO let a bunch of Homeboys stay seated in chairs while they talked to them, or "mad-dogged" eachother. And the HFA who lights up right in front of her old high school "buddy" who is now a cop.

Now, the rest of the movie is spot on. Even down to the 4 fingers up "Code 4" sign. The jabs back and forth while in the unit are perfect. Plus the way they cover eachother on calls and seach the house. Well done Ayer. As for teaching the dirt bags how to get one up on us, this movie does not show anything they do not already know. Trust me, these turds have nothing to do but think of ways to take us out, so I am sure the thought of disabling out HTs has crossed their minds a few times already. MUST SEE FOR LEOs AND THEIR FAMILIES. Espicially those members who cannot figure out why we are so quiet sometimes at get togethers, but can't shut up when we hang with our partners.

westcoastleo @ 9/26/2012 5:20 PM

I still think Barny Miller was the best cop show on the tube. All these other LAPD Blue vs Gangster, or LAPD good cop bad cops crap shows too much of what we do and the people in the street do not need to see it. The gangsters out there already have too much information about us as it is due to the fact that coppers in general love to talk and tell war stories. FitzSimons is or was a copper who is making money first by being an advisor for a few other movies and now someone bought his "Story".

But what do I know, I've only been working for LASD for 32.9 years at 6 different stations, special gang units, custody units including the infamous MCJ. And I’m a supervisor who has to look into the eyes of deputies who ask why they are being second guessed all of the time when they make small decisions each day.

bert adkins @ 9/26/2012 9:04 PM

OK movie but after being a cop for 30 years never like to see the bad guys get the good guys, it hurts, better ending next time for us in LE, we see death too many times. Cops could have been more professional with language and too much disrespect for the sarge

Ken Dusenberry @ 9/27/2012 5:57 AM

Almost didn't go as so many have been so bad. Went with my wife (Also former LE). We laughed at the funny parts, we remembered at the bad parts, we smiled at the good parts, and we made those little yes sounds when the good guys were winning. Of course there were those little "watch outs" throughout. We recognized people we had worked with. I've been out for 14 years, yet I checked my hip three times before we left the theater. It reminded me of a private showing of the "Onion Field" done just for cops many years ago. See it.

Bernard White @ 9/28/2012 9:14 PM

Former LEO and current EMS/Servicemember. Went with my best friend who is a current LEO and I thought it was a great movie, I found myself fighting the urge to warn them away from the window or watch out for this and that. The good parts were great and even the bad parts were authentically gut wrenching.

Matt @ 10/7/2012 4:42 PM

Great movie and very realistic. Does anybody know if there is a standard issue shoe/boot for LAPD and if so what it is ?

safek12 @ 11/1/2012 11:31 AM

WOW, I saw the movie, and will be taking my entire school district police department to it. I am "hardcore" but my heart was beating as if I was there, to many memories returned. I saw it with my wife, and I told her the movie was to much for me, I had tears in my eyes.

The reason I am taking my staff to review, is because I see a lot of leadership potential in this movie. I also see what happens to an officer who does not utilize the training and experience that I have.

I have developed some leadership discussion questions for my team and after reviewing the movie I want them to understand, I do not want to be the one standing in the front of a church taking to them again about the death of a fellow officer.

For me this was not just a movie, but one with lots of potential for young and older offiers to learn..........A MUST SEE MOVIE

Rebecca @ 11/28/2012 1:37 AM

Good movie....the part with the kids in the closet shattered my heart. I dont like good guys dying at the end of a movie. But it definitely shows the things cops have to endure daily. It also made my despise gangs 10x more than I already do. This movie can give anyone who has a heart,compassion and common sense a new found respect for police. God bless. And thank you for everything you officers do.

Australia @ 11/29/2012 4:25 PM

I just saw this movie and had the same question as when I've watched Southland; are parts of LA really this dangerous?

Madi @ 1/26/2013 9:19 AM

at a student with a major that is Criminal Justice the film really made me think if becoming a police officer is a good idea. watching how the day to day job has had an effect on the officers made me think if ill even be cut out for a job that is demanding as this. Deep down im honestly scared of something happening to my future partner or myself. But there is a bigger part of me that says that being a police officer in a gang ridden town in Salinas, CA is worth the risk if it means having my family safer. I cannot wait to finish my schooling so i can go into the academy and start protecting people.
This movie made me cry and i only cry during movies if it was really good and in the end it was the best at least they didnt just end it with a sad thing, they tried to lighten it up and that made me feel better.

Adrian Stroud @ 2/4/2013 6:22 PM

Great movie! I thought it was very realistic. It brought back many memories for me. Well done! Thank You Police Magazine for the recommendation.

W.S. @ 2/19/2013 8:58 PM

Great movie just watched it with my wife and oldest son it was the most gripping Law Enforcement movie since Training Day...Gives a whole new insight from the good cop perspective in what they have to deal with on a day to day basis in a big city like L.A....@Austrailia yes it is really like this in L.A. as portrayed on Gangland...i am born a raised in the city of Chicago,Illinois(SouthSide)Englewood which is probably the most dangerous neighborhood u could ever live in....the gang violence is so bad it has ruined our city and turned it into a warzone much worse than portrayed in this movie...instead of fighting a neverending war overseas we need to bring our troops home to take back our streets of cities of America

paul sapiano @ 2/20/2013 12:57 PM

Reading all these comments makes me really want to see this film. I stumbled across this thread while looking for a police technical advisor myself. I am a writer/director and I am writing a police themed comedy I need to connect with a former or current LEO (preferably LAPD, but familiarity with traffic stops and police culture should suffice). I am legit and have made a couple of movies to date. Please contact me for details at [email protected]

Lisa @ 2/23/2013 5:21 PM

I typically turn off movies that have extreme foul language but this one was gripping and had me glued to the tv. I come from a family of law enforcement and married into it as well. My son was an MP and is now contemplating the academy. Very proud Mama but deep inside I'm scared.

This movie captured the many facets of a cops professional and personal life. There have been times when my husband comes home and just "sits" and plays video games without saying a word. A lot of times he talks but sometimes I get "the look" of you don't want know. Anyone who has a loved one in law enforcement and sees this movie would agree no stone was left unturned in capturing a real cop's story.

Jasmine @ 2/24/2013 8:23 PM

Wow, this movie was so good, a must see! I love how they made it into a documentary type movie, we could not leave our seats! while I loved Training Day, this movie sheds a different light, and perspective. You will love this movie, and yes it will make the strongest cry!

jose @ 3/7/2013 9:28 PM

Bad ass movie.. my wife told me I had to see it since Im working on becoming a cop.. hands down one of my favorite movies ever..really shows u how far da drug cartels are willing to go to spread their business on our streets.. crazy.. but very true..

jackie @ 3/8/2013 10:46 AM

This movie was amazing ! The actors did a great job and the movie made me want to cry for days !!

Jack @ 3/31/2013 11:01 AM

Overall, I liked the movie, but the Rovers, i.e. portable police radios, would never fail like that in real life, and when a unit puts out he's in a pursuit, other units start heading in his direction to assist, so, the entire area would have been saturated to the point that they would have been found quickly. I personally didn't like giving a "recipe" to gangsters or wanna be's on how to kill cops and set them up. The scene where the cops were being mad dogged by the 415 loud party call would never happen, and they would all be up against the wall being searched for weapons and drugs. The scenes with the boot were funny and the protrayal of the P2's and Sergeant 1 were pretty accurate as a depiction of real life. The fight with the BMA in the apartment would never have happened.The Locker room in the movie definitely wasn't Newton's locker room and the roll call room where the Rotator is usually read over at briefings was definitely not a roll call room at Newton or any other LAPD Division. The only thing that was missing from the movie was the cops eating at Mikoshi the popular noodle house that all cops in Newton, Southwest, Southeast, 77th, eat at regularly. The idea that the Cartel would put out a "hit" on LAPD officers was a stretch.

Dustin @ 5/7/2013 11:59 PM

I've been on the job for 15 years in in the Denver Metro area. This definately hits home. Great film depicting the day to day lives of most cops. Just one item however...at the end during the shootout, I would have grabbed homeboys rifle, made sure it was loaded, threw him out of the car after I shot him and got my partner and I the hell out of there. Definately would not have been hugging each other in the alley.

Hiram @ 6/15/2013 11:08 PM

I'm a Sergeant in the NYPD, the movie was awesome, and despite being a different department, about 95% can be related to my job (NYPD). It's about time that a movie can entertain, stay close to the truth and not give away all our tactics to the perps. Jamie FitzSimmons (capt Reese ) did an awesome job advising the cast on law enforcement rituals.

MP @ 6/5/2014 10:56 PM

Although the ambush was pretty crazy it was definitely something seen in an military environment. That disturbance call could have been pretty close to right since it is California and weed isn't really a big offense that side although ive never worked as a civilian leo. But im pretty sure you are setting yourself up to get slammed pretty hard if you go searching minors who may think a thorough search is akin to sexual assult.

ricky_lee @ 9/24/2014 1:42 AM

this was also to explain the response time. and why it took units so long to arrive

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