LAPD’s Elite S.I.S. Tactical Detective Squad

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has a secret weapon…

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has a secret weapon in its war on crime. The department’s Special Investigation Section (S.I.S.) is an elite tactical detective squad with a straightforward mandate: Track down the City’s most dangerous offenders and take them off the street. S.I.S. are possibly the hardest-working, most dedicated men and women Detectives to wear a badge.

lapd2.gifWorking undercover, they wear street clothes and disguises to blend in. They have developed and refined surveilance methods for over four decades, they shadow their targets, sometimes waiting until the actual commission of a crime to move in and take down their man.

These “hot take downs” are the most dangerous situation for an officer: “… these guys don’t want to come in quietly,” a senior training officers explained, “many of these individuals are looking at their Third Strike, and facing Life…” For that reason, exchanging gunfire with desperate, heavily armed suspects including bank robbers, serial killers, and drug dealers is more the norm for S.I.S. Former commander of the S.I.S., Capt. Dennis Conte explained to TW, “Public safety is our concern, because if we arrest someone for ‘attempt,’ the likelihood of a conviction is not great.”

The S.I.S. is protective of methods they have developed for being in the right place at the right time, without being compromised so they can move while a crime is in progress. Having honed these skills on L.A.’s mean streets, S.I.S. officers have nerves of steel and the best investigative skills in the entire LAPD. As these methods are their edge against the bad guys, TW has agreed to honor their confidentiality in this report. The folks in our photos are either retired members or non-S.I.S. agents.
Typically, S.I.S. has about 20 members. They’ve been forced to use deadly force on 28 suspects between 1965 and 1992, inciting political and community activists and prompting the “L.A. Times” to dub them the city’s “Death Squad.”

The Mission:
Taking Down L.A.’s Worst Criminals
S.I.S. was formed in 1965 and comprises the “cream of the crop,” detectives who have attained the highest level of performance in the field. Just as every member of LAPDs’ S.W.A.T. team had to first achieve the highest level of performance on the street, the detectives chosen for S.I.S. must have exemplary records in their Detective Division. Possible team members are selected by the LAPD. They must pass physical and psychological tests along with other requirements. In four decades, only 110 candidates have made the cut.

Staying on the Squad is as hard as getting on. There’s no free ride. All S.I.S. officers are expected to train like professional athletes, on and off the gun range. They constantly have to qualify, and when they can’t cut it, room is made for a new team member. But few want to go back to their old duties. “This is the most dedicated group you’d want to be involved with,” former unit commander Tom Burke told TW. “So dedicated, they work the job like it is their life.”

This elite branch of LAPD has operated to remove hard-core criminals from the streets. Their special skills have been brought into some of the most infamous cases in Los Angeles history, like the Alphabet Bomber and the Hillside Strangler, and more recently in the murder of Bill Cosby’s son Ennis.

Unlike their sibling officers in LAPD S.W.A.T., S.I.S. is a mobile force of investigating officers who assist other divisions by tracking down active, known criminals. Along with kidnappings and bank robberies, divisional detectives throw their unsolvable cases to the S.I.S., when they have a suspect—but no evidence.

Multiple Weapons, Monthly Qualifications
As the level of violence and firepower among criminals has increased, so have the skills, training and equipment of the S.I.S. They’re constantly refining (and inventing) the surveillance techniques that have made them legendary in LE circles. LAPD requires officers to qualify on the range six times a year, S.I.S. team members must qualify every month, with every officer checked out on their side arms, the Remington 870 and M4 .223 rifle they carry in their vehicles.

S.I.S. targets bad guys that other detective divisions have identified as habitual offenders, and use their surveillance techniques to make sure that they will be there to take the suspect down during the commission of a crime. This keeps S.I.S. rubbing elbows with hopped-up, heavily armed criminals, which lead to the myth among those elements sympathetic to lawbreakers, that somehow S.I.S. was being “unfair” and not “playing by the rules.”

“L.A.P.D. has guidelines for S.I.S. but they are still coming to grips with the complexity of the Unit’s mission. “Improvisation,” Burke pointed out, “not impropriety, is the policy of the S.I.S.”

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  • john Smith

    Why they put marc Fleishman’s photo on this article is ludicrous, he got kicked out of SIS because he was such an ego maniac…

  • DecentDiscourse

    Catherine, what did you expect from your friend’s “lifestyle?” Sympathy for your plight? Get real. Roger I just hope you’re not an officer. Too many racists give cops a bad name. Sally Mae, PTSD or death. Your choice. You were put in a situation because of people Catherine associates with. Your options were limited.

  • dustin Mc Gee

    I’ve read some serious crap about S.I.S.- the reality?? The suspects they’ve shot( unfortunately) were the SCUM of the earth who had no problem praying on weak people(“none” of you “family members of the suspects- NOT perps, obvious fairy tale spinners- will be brave enough to admit that!!) SIS hasn’t actually had that many shooting compared to the avg numbers of day to day patrol officers working for LAPD. ( Patrol officers actually get into MORE OIS incidents)

    don’t believe the hype from TV, sensationalist news reports, et al. These men, and soon women, are true professionals- they investigate thoroughly, track properly, and ARRESt some of L.A.’s and southern Californias most VICIOUS organized and street hoodlums. those people shot or even killed by SIS had their chances to surrender, MANY prefer to “go to guns” with LAPD SIS, and obviously have no care for basic human life( even their own)

    I’ve had the honor to see these men in action- NO bullying or tough talk- they go in , get the man they are after, and are fair and top notch to the citizens and even the suspects they have to arrest.
    for anyone who actually is LAME enough to believe that FBI( an investigative information agency, NOT a police agency) meets the same criteria ,or has the same skill, STOP watching TV!!

    There’s a REASON LAPD SIS is the ONLY unit of its kind in the U.S.- you can take them and with little preparation, could send them anywhere in the U.S. and they’d be more effective than the locals are…

  • have worked periperhally and trained with some of these detectives I can honestly say they are the best I have worked with, and to the poster who brings up the FBI remember they are NOT actively pursuing anyone in the HRT(response orient) also I recall them(FBI) burning their last big raid and a questionable shooting at their next one

  • Junior

    To that fool who said the FBI needs to train the SIS, get off the pipe.My kid’s with FBI SWAT. He stands in awe of the SIS/DSD. I cracked up at the mention of the name Yagman. That dummy stole from clients and did prison time. He was recently disbarred and now has no way of making a living. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. As a young Long Beach PD patrol cop back in the early eighties, me and my partner were parked behind the DMV eating hamburgers. We hear lots of shotgun fire and handgun fire. We race to the scene. That was my first personal meeting with SIS and Jerry Brooks. The SIS had gunned down two Cuban robbers who had been a pain in our ass. They had also capered in L.A. Now they were dead. Good job, Jerry!! Love ya bro!!

  • the sis has a great reputation for handeling the most difficult assignments -the are elite and will be larger in the years to com <400. alt sec 4

  • Larry ‘Downtown’ Brown

    I had the great honor and privilege of supervising field investigations at S.I.S. from 1968 to 1980. I attest to the fact that the men assigned there are indeed the best that ever, and still do, stand behind a badge. Lots of meaningless jibberish here from folks, who like muhrooms, were raised in the dark and are as common as ants at a picnic, Men like those assigned to S.I.S. coime along only rarely and are often the only thread of sanity and reality that existe in our otherwise disconnected society. Frog who posted on this blog, was one of the best of the best with whom I had the pleasure of working.

  • FROG

    Catherine & Sally Mae… two are a joke.
    Go back to walking the streets. You have a better knowledge of that then who your fucking parents are!

    • casper27292 .

      If anyone is a fucking joke it’s you, It takes a sorry ass piece of shit to talk to or about women like that no matter who they are, you’re no better than the worst of the worst, just like the sis is no better than a hitman or murderer, No do what your used to doing and go fuck yourself with an 18 inch black dildo you stanky breath, shit eating, whore monging fagget queer

    • casper27292 .

      Oh, I just seen, Frog was one of the best Larry got to work with, well guess what you faggot punk, Karma is a bitch and what are you gonna tell god when you sit in front of him on judgment day? you’re gonna burn in hell for all the murders bitch


    SIS is legit, only people complaining here are those that probably are criminals themselves or hanging out with drug dealers kidnapping someone and expecting that everything is ok.

  • Great Article… Very Informational. I’m the proud owner of a Kimber Pro CDP II, so I understand why Kimber would be the gun of choice for the SWAT and SSI Units. As for the “friend of” “family of” and “hostage” bitches… I sounds to me like they are all too familiar with the criminals and have some very strong sentiments against law enforcement officers to be considered anything more than what some of the other readers have already concluded (and far less than “innocents”). If the SIS have only used deadly force on 28 suspects over a period of 27 years, and survived the scrutiny of Los Angeles left wing sympathizers since 1965 then I guess what these welfare bitch CRANKIS have to say isn’t worth a fart in the wind. Statistics make it sound like the SIS has actually been too soft on crime and the criminals, and before another junkie with a big mouth winds up with more taxpayer money, the LAPD should quadruple it’s size (SIS) to get rid of more of this vermin in Los Angeles. This way I can come visit without having to worry about the buzzard bait and their whores lying in wait to take advantage.

    • casper27292 .

      you’re just like roger, nothing but a piece a shit that has no respect for women, so i’m guessing you’re probably a fag that ass rapes minors, the sis should come see you too, they don’t care who you are, they will do what they are paid to do, KILL

  • Shut it up Sally. You should be thankful that whitie even bothered saving your ass. You aren’t good enough to get a cap busted in your head by these professionals!

    Yeah I bet you’re living it up ghetto fabulous with your “lawsuit money.” Well guess what! That money came from US you idiot. That was tax payer money. What – you think the SIS is hurting now? They’ll just get double next fiscal year you baboon and it’s coming from us again you CRANKIS. Well at least you won’t be getting welfare bitch. Until you spend all of “our” money on brilo, nappy headed hair products.

    It’s just sad that the SIS got punished for saving your worthless, welfare-recipient life. They would have saved time, money, reputation if they just let the niggers kill one another.

    Hey Sally… FUCK YOU! Isn’t your real name SQUIGISHA? Or-sum-kinda-shit?

    • casper27292 .

      you’re a fuckin piece of shit to talk to any woman like that, maybe the sis should step in and put a shot or 2 in you, you racist piece of shit, and yeah I am white, but that doesn’t mean i’m racist, I hope the worst of the worst is takin off the streets, but I also hope they take some of those sis pieces of shit with them because they are no better

  • see you in ye-isle “hell” you bald, ape shit, steriod, FREAKS!

    I was one of the “hostages” in a situation and they fucking killed everybody. WHAT THE FUCK MAN! The victims that survived, myself included did win a law suit but SHIT! Who trains the monkeys with guns? They know how to kill but not whom, or what. The whole SIS needs to be re-evaluated by hostage professionals, such as the FBI. In fact, the SIS should not be allowed to conduct any sensitive operations. They’re fucked up cops who can’t think critically.

    It was one fo the most scariest moments of my life, and it wasn’t because of the “criminals” it was the Nazi freaks with badges.

  • J

    Criminals are never guilty! I bet everyone in prison was framed!


  • As a retired LAPD Sergeant who left the job due to PTSD from an on-duty OIS related disability, I miss the job and enjoy reading about my old department. I found this story on the SIS to be very informative and it brought back a memory from my days in the North Hollywood Division. I recall having my roll call delayed one day while we waited for the Officers in the SIS Unit to finish their own roll call that was being conducted at the station. It was the only time in 14 years that I ever saw these men as a unit and was able to identify who some of them were. To say that I was highly impressed with the intensity in their eyes and their professional demeanor would be an understatement. The City of Los Angeles is so fortunate to have such highly dedicated Officers willing to do the work that the SIS does. Carry on Officers. The community supports you and needs you to keep on doing what you do so well.