‘It’s been a mad rush’: Captain Morrison bids farewell after 2.5-year assignment
Jamie Paige, current Venice / SMDP editor
If there’s one thing certain about Captain Brian Morrison’s time in Venice, it’s that he’s a better cop – and Venice is a better community – because of his leadership.
Morrison recently completed a two-and-a-half-year run as a patrol captain for the Pacific Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. He received a promotion which allowed him to progress and climb the ranks. Morrison was assigned to the LAPD Emergency Services Division. Its duties will include overseeing the Hazardous Devices and Materials Section (Bomb Squad and Protective Mat), the LAX K9 Bomb Detection Unit and emergency management.
The early years
Morrison, a third-generation police officer, initially decided to become a prosecutor, but the adrenaline would put him on the same path as his father and grandfather, both of whom wore the LAPD uniform before him.
“My grandfather was a career Navy veteran who served in World War II – and later became deputy court director for the Port of Los Angeles,” Morrison says. His father served in the LAPD between 1956 and 1995, retiring a year after his Morrison joined the force.
Morrison remembers the conversation he had with his father after taking the police written exam for entry into the police force: “I asked my father what I needed for the oral. [police exam]. He asked, “What have you done? I took the [written] test and pass, ”recalls Morrison.
Morrison worked various assignments prior to being posted to the Pacific Division, including “earning his stripes” on patrol and CRASH. Morrison has also served as an academy firearms instructor, field training officer, and senior senior officer.
In 2002, Morrison was promoted to sergeant and worked in the Patrol, Vice, and Metropolitan Division. In 2013, he made the jump to lieutenant and worked as a shift commander, violent crime task force and gang impact team officer and office gang coordinator.
In December 2018, Morrison was promoted to Captain and posted to the Pacific Patrol Division, where he oversaw patrol and beach operations.
While his law enforcement background made him a good fit for the job in the Pacific, his early years as a self-proclaimed “80s skate punk” made him. He explains: “I identify with a lot of the culture of Venice. My Venetian roots go back to listening and skating suicidal tendencies, ”Morrison describes of his early years of training.
Homeless crisis in Venice
“If you looked back five years, you’d have pockets of homelessness, but a lot of times they were free-spirited hippies,” Morrison says, describing what has changed. “Many of the crimes at the time were [committed by] gangs looking to fight.
The LAPD would eventually embrace local gang activity, and Venice began to flourish. But Morrison says that has started to change again with the growing number of homeless people and new forms of criminal activity.
“It’s overwhelming in Venice right now. Five years ago, you knew the names and the number of homeless people living on the streets. Now you see campsites on Third and the promenade overflowing. It’s too much.”
Crimes have also changed. “We had a change when we saw a lot of narcotics and career criminals preying on the homeless. When as a police [officer] you are responsible for reducing fear and crime, it is an overwhelming task because we are challenged and limited by what we can and cannot do.
Safe driving plan
Besides fighting crime, a major undertaking for Morrison while he was in the Pacific Division was developing a safe driving plan in conjunction with Pacific Beach officers and LA County rescuers – which to date is its only such course in California approved by the California Peace Officer Training and Standards.
The move was sparked by an incident in 2019 in which a 36-year-old man was run over by police while lying next to the pier in Venice. This incident would lead to revitalizing the Beach Patrols and creating the Safety Plan which took a year and a lot of effort from Morrison and the team to deploy.
“The plan included a lot of research into how to drive safely on sand, such as checking for blind spots and different angles.”
COVID-19 has also proven to be a significant challenge for Morrison while serving the Westside. “We were under intense pressure and scrutiny to maintain a safe atmosphere at the beach,” says Morrison, who worked to ensure beach safety for all the families who sought to get out of the house while so many other activities were discouraged or prohibited.
Morrison said May 2020 was particularly difficult when Southern California had its bioluminescent light show. Hundreds of spectators flocked to the beach as people were told to stay home.
“The command [wanted us to avoid the] optics of thousands of people on the beach and on the promenade appearing in the 6pm newspaper. “
It takes a team
As the saying goes, the strength of every member is the team. Morrison said he could not have done his job without the support, hard work and dedication of the entire Pacific Division: “I cannot put words into my love and appreciation for all men and Dedicated women of the Pacific, ”explained Morrison of the team as he said he went to work with every day.
Morrison said the two officers who lost their lives during his tour were devastating. “Officer Esmeralda Ramirez died in the line of duty due to surgical complications following a traffic accident and Officer James Rousseve died following a courageous battle with cancer.
With all of these challenges under his belt, Morrison says it’s always the local residents who bring back his desire to do better for the community. “I enjoyed working with everyone in the community from Ted Hayes to Clabe Hartley [Cow’s End] and Jennifer Park [Café Collage] to Alex and Edizen [Venice Paparazzi] to Jim Murez [Venice Farmers Market] and Jim Muir [Dog Town Skateboards].
“I love all the unique aspects of Venice,” he says. “I like the personal connection. I didn’t always have the time, but when I did, there were some great moments shared.
Morrison says Venice would be more of a challenge for someone who isn’t from LA “I get skate culture. I get the culture of surfing.
Although gentle at heart, Morrison says he will always be tough on crime. “It’s part of the safety of a community. It is important.”
He adds of all his time on the Westside: “It was a crazy race, and I’m grateful for it.
This story was published in partnership with the current of Venice.