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Police Academy

Novembre 2013
Fan dei polizieschi? Vi presentiamo una poliziotta vera del Los Angeles Police Department, che ci spiega la differenza tra realtà e televisione... e in cosa normalmente consiste una giornata di lavoro dei cops.

di Talitha Linehan

File audio:

LAPD Sergeant Cassandra Britt Nickerson in action.
LAPD Sergeant Cassandra Britt Nickerson in action.

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

A man is standing outside his house holding a gun. Two women are fighting over a parking space. A teenager is drunk and shouting at his parents. What do you do? These are the kinds of situations that trainees learn to deal with at the world-famous Los Angeles Police Academy.


If you want to become an LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) officer, then you have to spend six months training at the academy.
The oldest academy is in the city’s oldest park, Elysian Park, and has a gymnasium, an obstacle course and a firing range. There new trainees learn everything they need to know to become a police officer, including how to write a report, fire a gun and drive in an emergency.


At the end of training, recruits join the LAPD, which has more than 10,000 officers in 21 divisions, to serve and protect the city’s 3.7 million citizens. For the first two years they work on patrol with a partner. They can then choose from about 250 jobs, including everything from working undercover to enforcing drug laws. Later they can climb the ranks and maybe become a sergeant or detective.




Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

Sergeant Cassandra Britt-Nickerson has been on the police force for 23 years and has worked as an undercover officer and a detective. She is now in charge of recruitment for the LAPD. We asked her what were the main types of crime that police officers had to deal with in Los Angeles:

Sergeant Cassandra Britt-Nickerson (Standard/African American accent)

Los Angeles is such a big city and people don’t realise that. We only equate Los Angeles with Hollywood and maybe downtown, but you realise Los Angeles goes all the way to the beach, to the south, all the way to the Valley, up to the foothills, so it’s such a huge, diverse community, West LA, to East LA, so you have all these communities in the city of Los Angeles and I think, any major metropolitan city, you’re going to see some of everything, so I mean there’s no crime that’s more prevalent than the other, because it’s a big urban place, and so you’re going to get the crimes that you see, what TV shows are made about, you know, and some things are, you know, hyped up and some things are not, but you do, you get those robberies, you might get just a simple neighbour dispute, you know, you might get some feelgood calls, where you’re really making a difference in the community, where you go out and you’re connecting with the community, and you’re just walking the community and letting them know your presence, so you get some of everything.  


Today 20 per cent of the officers are female but, she says, it’s still very much a man’s world:

Sergeant Cassandra Britt-Nickerson

This is a male-dominated field, so you’re in an environment where there’s a lot of testosterone, you know, and you have to navigate your way through that!

In spite of that, she thinks that there is a more humane side to police work:

Sergeant Cassandra Britt-Nickerson

What people don’t see is that police officers are very compassionate. I mean, you have to give of yourself. I mean, anyone that’s willing to die for someone else, I mean that literally (is) what it boils down to, when everyone’s running the other way, you’re running to whatever that situation is. That’s compassion. A lot of people don’t get to see that side of police officers. And we deal with a lot of things, you go into people’s homes and sometimes you see situations that, you know, it’s upsetting when you see it, and, you know, you make connections with people, you change people’s lives, I mean, you really do sometimes, so I think people don’t see that side of police officers.  


You have to be at least 20 years old and have a high-school diploma.
There is no minimum height or weight requirement, but men must have a body fat percentage of 22% or under, and women of 30% or under. About 20% of LAPD officers are women.
About 850 people apply every month to join the LAPD. But only 10% of them make it through the six-month selection process, which includes a background check, a polygraph exam, a physical abilities exam, and a medical and psychological evaluation.
Officers start earning their salary when they start training. They earn between $48,000 and $55,000 annually, depending on whether they have a degree and/or previous experience.
Their salary increases over time, to a maximum of $90,000 for police officers, $118,000 for detectives, and $132,000 for lieutenants.
LAPD officers can retire with full benefits after 30 years of service.
To find out more, please visit: www.joinlapd.com


The LAPD is second only to the NYPD (New York Police Department) in terms of world fame but, thanks to Hollywood, it probably appears in more films and TV series. There is even a special police department which handles relations with studios. Here are just some of the many movies and series that have featured the LAPD:

Speed (1994) stars Keanu Reeves as an LAPD swat officer, Sandra Bullock as a bus driver and Dennis Hopper as a madman.

NCIS: Los Angeles (Naval Criminal Investigative Service: Los Angeles) is a spin-off of the original NCIS series.

L.A. Confidential

(1997) has a great cast (Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell and Danny DeVito). Based on the novel of the same name by James Ellroy, it is set in the early 1950s and  describes police corruption.

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African American accent. Sergeant Cassandra Britt-Nickerson parla con una lieve intonazione afroamericana. Può sembrare difficile per chi è abituato ai tradizionali corsi di inglese, ma è importante capire questo modo di parlare. 42 milioni di americani (13,6 per cento della popolazione) sono di provenienza afroamericana, compreso il Presidente.

The Valley. The San Fernando Valley. Questa comunità al nord di Los Angeles ha un ruolo nella cultura contemporanea americana che è sproporzionato rispetto alla sua popolazione. Negli anni 80 il fenomeno della Valley Girl, una teenager un po’ kitsch, è stato immortalato in una canzone di Frank Zappa, in un film con Nicolas Cage e successivamente in vari programmi televisivi. Da non confondere con la Silicon Valley, che è vicino a San Francisco.

Feelgood calls. Le chiamate che danno soddisfazione ai poliziotti. The feelgood factor è un’espressione comune che si riferisce a una cosa positiva, che ti fa sentire bene. Si usa anche nella politica, quando si parla di un messaggio positivo.

What it boils down to.
Il succo è questo, si riduce a questo. L’idea è che, una volta che la carne è stata bollita, rimane solo l’osso, cioè la parte fondamentale.