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20 Year Anniversary of North Hollywood Robbery - Feb 28, 2017

20 Years Ago Today….
Matt Johnson, President
Los Angeles Police Commission
20 Year Anniversary of North Hollywood Robbery

Exactly 20 years ago today, on a beautiful, sunny, morning much like today’s; Los Angeles was the scene of one with one of the most violent bank robberies ever witnessed on live television.

The 1997 North Hollywood robbery was unlike any other cop-and-robber chase portrayed on film or television.  Two men equipped with several illegally converted semi and fully automatic weapons, over 3,300 rounds of ammunition and covered with 40lbs of body armor…. Body armor which provided much more bullet resistance than the standard police vests….had spent months planning this robbery.

They were after $750,000 dollars they assumed the Bank of America had in their vault that morning, and after getting high on prescription drugs they were determined to steal it.

The officers responding to the scene, armed only with the standard 9 mm handguns issued at the time, did not know the warfare they were about to encounter.  As the shootout began, officers called for back-up, while the two suspects attempted to flee.

For the next 44 minutes, news media helicopters broadcast the live exchange of over 2,000 rounds of ammunition between the bank robbers and police officers.  Over 300 officers responded to the tactical alert.  SWAT teams arrived with borrowed weaponry and ammunition from local gun shops and eventually neutralized the bank robbers.

In the end, the two bank robbers succumbed to their injuries.  Each was shot and penetrated with over ten bullets before they were taken down.  Eleven officers and six civilians sustained injuries.  Thank God there were no fatalities to civilians or officers.

This event changed LAPD forever.  The footage captured much of the event and has become an unforgettable documentation of the courage, bravery, and self-sacrifice, of the officers.  Viewers witnessed the heroism demonstrated by the officers.  Those that were shot survived their injuries because of the rescue efforts by others.

With limited weaponry and defense, the officers’ courage and willpower surmounted the bank robbers’ firepower.  LAPD demonstrated to everyone across the nation, that heroes do exist.  Nineteen LAPD officers received the Medal of Valor and were invited to meet the President of the United States for their bravery.

As the president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, my fellow commissioners and I want to acknowledge the sacrifices, courage and bravery of the 45 LAPD officers involved in the North Hollywood robbery incident.  I believe you are all here today.  Can you all please stand.

This 20-year anniversary of the North Hollywood bank robbery is just one of many success stories that has established the importance of maintaining a well-trained, well-equipped police force.  This remembrance serves as a story of survival, determination, and inspiration to newer generations of police officers.  I have the deepest gratitude to you for your actions that day for keeping Los Angeles safe, and protecting our community through your professionalism.  Thank you all – retired and active officers of the LAPD.

Twenty years later, the landscape for law enforcement has transformed drastically, but the inherent dangers of police work remain unchanged.  Events where police officers encounter armed individuals have become more common across the nation.  Law enforcement is continuously challenged.  I have spent time with many officers throughout the Department over the past year and a half, and I want to personally thank you for your courageous service.

Despite the challenges you face today, you all carry the legacy of heroism by the LAPD. Like the Olympic torch, the altruism gained with you wearing your badge never ends.  The torch is passed on to the newer generations of police officers.  The Department has and will always evolve and grow with its legacy, which is created by each one of you and your fellow police officers who wear the most famous badge in the world…that of the LAPD.

Thank you.