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LA School Police Chief Retires, Setting Stage For More Change At Department

A portrait of a police officer in uniform with an American flag in the background.
Leslie Ramirez announced her retirement as chief of the L.A. School Police Department on June 30, 2022.
(L.A. School Police)
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For the third time in less than three years, the L.A. Unified School District is on the hunt for a new police chief.

Leslie Ramirez — the first woman to serve as the department's leader — announced Thursday that she was retiring. She entered law enforcement in 1991, and has spent more than two decades of that career with the L.A. School Police.

Former chief Steve Zipperman, who ran the school district's police department for nearly a decade until his retirement in 2019, is returning to his old post on an interim basis.

After Zipperman's departure, school board members hired LAPD veteran Todd Chamberlain to run the department. At the time, the department employed 380 sworn officers and another 100 non-sworn "safety officers," along with a few dozen support staff.

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In June 2020, racial justice activists allied with Black Lives Matter and the district's teachers union convinced LAUSD board members to cut the police budget by 25%. The day after the board enacted the cuts, Chamberlain resigned and Ramirez stepped in.

Activists are still pressuring the board to completely eliminate the school police budget. However, in their last two budgets, LAUSD leaders have held the department's funding level.

“I am appreciative for my years in law enforcement and for having been the first female Chief of Police for the LASPD," Ramirez said in a statement on Instagram. "I wish all the best to the LASPD team.”

What questions do you have about K-12 education in Southern California?
Kyle Stokes reports on the public education system — and the societal forces, parental choices and political decisions that determine which students get access to a “good” school (and how we define a “good school”).

Corrected July 1, 2022 at 10:06 AM PDT
A previous version of this article relied on an outdated district number regarding how long Ramirez has been in law enforcement.