FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!

Departments : Officer of the Month

LAPD Officer Nabs Car Thieves, Pioneers Surveillance Detail

In Officer Dana Binion's tenure, the West L.A. Surveillance Detail made more than 700 felony arrests, with a 99 percent conviction rate, and more than 100 misdemeanor arrests.

May 09, 2011  |  by - Also by this author


Officer Dana Binion wanted to make his job at the West L.A. Division of the LAPD more efficient. In starting the Surveillance Detail in his division, he helped popularize use of a targeted approach to catching criminals and unmarked cars that had formerly been reserved for narcotics and vice. For his contributions the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has named him the May 2011 Officer of the Month.

"It was around 1992 and we were being targeted by South End and East L.A. gang members for vehicle theft and car burglary," remembers Binion. "Together fellow officer Paul Kanary and I started working a surveillance detail in unmarked cars, targeting areas suspects were working in. What we did is what's now called Compstat."

Before Binion and Kanary began the surveillance detail, marked patrol cars would drive around hoping to catch car thieves in the act. But that was tough considering how visible the black-and-whites were. Instead, the two men-who were the only members of the new detail-began each driving a nondescript car equipped only with a radio so they could blend in undetected.

They would maintain constant radio communication with squad cars nearby via "a tac channel." When Binion or his partner witnessed what they believed to be a crime in progress, they'd surreptitiously follow the car out of the area to keep track of it and let the black and whites know where to find the suspect and conduct the stop. The system worked.

"We were successful, and got a reputation, and the idea took off," says Binion. "Then we would train other officers, and they would go and start it in their division. Now there's a surveillance detail at several divisions in LAPD," Binion says proudly.

Kanary retired shortly after the detail was started, but Binion continued to train and mentor other officers, adapting the model to address other problems in the city.

Initially, the focus was auto-related crimes. But later on, the Surveillance Detail began also surveilling areas where other crimes, such as business burglaries and robberies, were taking place in large numbers. Binion and his team have also arrested a fair number of carjackers in the course of their work. It's difficult to know how a situation will develop, and how members of the surveillance detail will need to react in each situation.

During one surveillance, Binion and his protégé Kenny Collard witnessed two suspects unsuccessfully attempt both a vehicle break-in and a carjacking. But they didn't stop there. The two men then attempted a street robbery, which Collard was able to interrupt. "One suspect was shot and killed, and myself and other officers chased and apprehended the other suspect and took him into custody," Binion says.

Over the years, the West L.A. Surveillance Detail has found its stride, thanks in no small part to Binion's continued guidance. Right now it consists of four officers, but it's fluctuated between two and six, depending on need. Because it's important all members be familiar with the area for effective surveillance, only officers who have worked in that division for several years are assigned to the detail. Binion says he's found this is essential to the detail's success. But he also gives credit to his command staff and citizens in the community for their continued support.

In Binion's tenure, the West L.A. Surveillance Detail made more than 700 felony arrests, with a 99 percent conviction rate, and more than 100 misdemeanor arrests. Now the veteran officer is hanging up his hat, but he's confident the detail he helped start is in good hands and he's happy with the legacy he's left behind.

"I am very proud of what I and we as a detail accomplished, creating and maintaining that detail, keeping the community safe, and reducing crime."

Tags: NLEOMF, LAPD, Officer of the Month, Auto Theft, Surveillance


Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Don Cordell @ 5/12/2011 6:18 PM

Too often the public does not hear about the great work of officers like this. Only the bad publicity hits the pages. I know that 90% of police activity is to protect us, it's the 10% of the officers that overstep the rights of citizens that hides the great work of so many officers in America. Thanks for this report, it made my day.

Join the Discussion





POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Stories

The Forgotten Fallen of 9/11
On Sept. 11, 2001, 72 officers were killed in the line of duty. But they were not the only...
Revisiting the "21-Foot Rule"
The so-called "21-Foot Rule" was born and soon spread throughout the law enforcement...
Leadership in Reverse
Every profession espouses the virtues of leadership. But what about followers, which are...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Rank:
Agency:
Address:
City:
State:
  
Zip Code:
 
Country:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine