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About the Hazardous Materials Unit

LAPD Hazmat Unit (HMU)

Emergency Services Division
Counter Terrorism/Criminal Intelligence Bureau
2029 North Main Street
Los Angeles, California 90031

HMU Mission Statement:

Our mission is to assure the quality of life and environment for the residents, business community and police officers of Los Angeles by providing professional responses to and competent investigations of incidents involving hazardous materials, environmental crimes and terrorist acts using weapons of mass destruction.

The Hazardous Materials Unit (HMU) is a highly specialized team consisting of police officers from varying Los Angeles Police Department backgrounds.  The team is comprised of seven Hazmat Specialist Officers (HSO) and is headed by an Officer-in-Charge (OIC) sergeant.  Two professional Technical Reservists are also retained, both of which are Ph.D’s in the physical sciences of Microbiology and Analytical Chemistry.

The HMU is an integral component of the LAPD’s Counter-Terrorism response capability, specializing in Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and the identification of “unknown materials/agents”.  Unit members receive training and acquire skills to identify potential biological pathogens, chemical-weapon agents and radiological materials.

The Unit is also tasked with responding to calls-for-service which involve hazardous materials/chemicals, investigations of environmental crimes, and the enforcement of federal hazardous materials transportation regulations.

Often times, HSO’s conduct "road-side" inspections of commercial vehicles to ensure compliance with applicable State and Federal laws and safety issues of dangerous goods transported in commerce.

All members of the Unit are trained and certified at the Technician/Specialist level, the highest level of training offered for hazmat emergency responders in the State of California through the California Office of Emergency Services / California Specialized Training Institute.

The Unit is responsible for providing all Department personnel with "Hazardous Materials, First Responder Awareness," training which stresses the importance of safety concerns when dealing with hazardous materials incidents.

As the City’s primary investigative body for environmental criminal acts, the Unit is called upon to conduct in-depth criminal investigations, often times in contaminated, life threatening atmospheres.  The Unit collects and preserves evidence required for successful criminal prosecutions.  Unit members complete follow-up investigations, prepare reports and search warrants, then present investigative results to prosecuting attorneys for criminal filing consideration.

In the WMD terrorism arena, HMU is also a component of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies responsible for investigating domestic terrorism involving Nuclear, Biological and Chemical WMD’s.

The HMU’s function in the JTTF is to protect the public by surveying with specialized equipment thus identifying potential WMD’s and conducting evidence searches in the
“Hot-Zone” (area of high exposure/contamination potential).

HMU personnel have completed extensive training in NBC/WMD operations, including "live" Chemical Warfare Nerve Agent training at the United States Army's Chemical Defense Training Facility, Fort McClellan, Alabama. The nerve agents used in this course included "GB" (Sarin) and "VX".  Both chemicals are weapons grade, lethal nerve agent organophosphates.  Additionally, hazardous materials specialist attends 27 core training courses focusing on WMD, environmental crimes, chemistry, and hazardous materials transportation enforcement.