By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD
Sentenced to die, it stands alone and empty awaiting its fate. It was loved and cherished by the many thousands who called it home.
Born in 1955 / Died 2018 / age 63. It opened as the Police Administration Building or PAB. It was renamed “Parker Center” after the untimely death of Police Chief William H. Parker, who served as chief from 1950 until 1966.
Parker Center was many things to many people but revered by those Chief Parker commanded. Standing alone at 150 N. Los Angeles Street, the building occupied the entire block with an imposing position in Civic Center.
Designed by Welton Becket and Associates (who also designed the Capitol records building in Hollywood) and built at a cost of 6.1 million dollars, it was considered state of the art and one of the first centralized police facilities in the nation. The main cantilevered entrance is supported by twelve columns and consists of eight stories of gleaming steel, mosaic and glass.
Specialized features included modern crime lab, lineup auditorium with special lighting, traffic mapping center, two-story jail and modern communications center.
The lobby was home to a free standing 36 x 6-foot mural, “Theme Mural of L.A.” by artist Joseph Young, and a second entitled, “The Family Group.” Closed in 2009, it was home to 6 chiefs and 5 interim chiefs over the 54 years of its use. Occupants included all senior administrators and staff, along with many support divisions, patrol, traffic, administrative, vice, and the elite Metropolitan Division. Specialized Detective Divisions included Homicide, Robbery, Burglary/Auto Theft, Bunco, Forgery, and Narcotics.
The jail housed short term arrestees while in the press room senior “crime reporters” played endless card games.
During its life the building saw the likes of the Manson Family, the Night Stalker, the Hillside Strangler, Skid Row/Central Slasher, Lonely Hearts Killer, Mickey Cohen, O.J., the Onion Field Killers, the Remorseful Rapist, Robert Blake, the killers of Robert Kennedy and Sal Mineo, and so many, many more.
It saw the 1965 Watts riots, Black Panther, SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army) and North Hollywood shootouts. It weathered the debacle following Rodney King along with thousands of others.
It was a home to giants, WWII vets who bigger than life, became legends and forged the mystique of the LAPD, making it the paragon it became.
They, too, have passed into history. Hollywood may have its super heroes, but we had the genuine article. If ghosts could speak.
That same period saw 98 Los Angeles Police Officers give their lives in the line of duty. Their names joined the many of the previously fallen on the black granite base and fountain memorial in front of the building.
Yes, it will die soon, a victim of progress; another warrior gone to Valhalla.
To quote Dylan Thomas:
Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rave at close of day.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Rest in Peace Parker Center
With much Respect
Ed Meckle #7612, Lt II ret.
2 replies on “The Call Box: Parker Center”
In the name of progress, I suppose, but makes me wonder.
And the valuable lessons we learned will fade with memory. This is a powerful testament to the incredible impact of the man and his agency-William H. Parker.