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Five years ago I went to Los Angeles to report a story on LAPD Chief William Bratton for Governing Magazine. I had lived in Los Angeles previously, loved the city, and was fascinated by its history. So I dived deeper into the department's history than I might otherwise have. I soon found myself pondering a puzzle: how did the police department of Chief James “Two Gun” Davis and “Bloody Christmas” — the L.A. Confidential LAPD, as it were — suddenly become the Dragnet LAPD? How did a department that had answered for decades to corrupt politicians come to answer to no one? The more deeply I read, the more convinced I became that the answer was bound up in the lives of Chief William H. Parker and the gangster Mickey Cohen...
John Buntin is a staff writer at Governing Magazine where he covers crime and urban affairs. A former resident of Southern California, he now lives in Washington, D.C. with his family.
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