Manhattan Beach's High Juvenile Crime Rate...In The 50's?

Manhattan Beach's SWAT team with their k-9's

Pictured above is Manhattan Beach’s SWAT team with their k-9’s. The officers are in full gear. At the time, they trained with MP-5 sub machine guns, beanbag shotguns, AR-15 rifles, pepperballs and gas launchers. 


Throughout the 1960's and 70's, the Manhattan Beach Police Department detectives were inundated with the drug scene in town as well as the juvenile crime rate that was steadily growing.

A battle began in the late 1950's to motivate a strong advocacy for young people, who were being picked-up by the police officers at an increasing rate, from possession of drugs, sexual delinquency and municipal code violations. At this time the department had but one juvenile officer, who was the first female to be assigned the position. Up to this date the only duties women could hold in the Manhattan Beach Police Department were office staff and any female officers were refereed to as policewomen. In 1972, the classification was changed from policewomen to police officer.

In 1966, Betty Anderson, graduated from the Police Academy in LosAngeles and became the second policewoman to serve as the Juvenile Division Officer. By the end of the year, the department was experiencing an average of 700 juveniles a year with narcotics violations on the increase.

Betty quoted in an interview with "The Daily Breeze" newspaper, “we feel if we can help just one or two of them, it's worth it. We can' t change the world" she said, "but we can try to make it a little better place in which to live.” The hiring of Policewoman, Betty Andrews, opened the door for other women to be a part of the Police Department (Learn more about woman on the Police Force in "Skirts Across The Sand" a history of woman in Manhattan Beach, by Jan Dennis).

By the closing of the 1970's, there were six detective officers in the Manhattan Beach Police Department, handling everything from robbery, narcotics, burglary, auto theft and juvenile arrests, however there was a change to take place at the top of the Police Department.

On the 27th of September 1980, Harry Kuhlmeyer was appointed as the 9th Manhattan Beach Police Chief. He had been with the department since 1953 and served as a Captain for sixteen years. It was his plan to continue the use of the Neighborhood Watch program and make more extensive use of the k-9 patrols as an effective crime prevention tool.

In 1980, the Neighborhood Watch program was founded and initiated by Charlotte Lesser, another woman who worked closely with the Police Department. A group of concerned citizens who wanted to help make the neighborhood safe and to support the police in crime prevention and reporting, also helped to make the program one of the finest Neighborhood organizations in the country.

The k-9 unit, here in Manhattan Beach, was organized in 1980, used for location of narcotics and arms detection. Most dogs used in the Manhattan Beach Police Department are raised in European kennels. After an animal has been purchased and a handler has been selected, the new partners attend courses comprising of extensive training in the search for suspects and evidence in both interior and exterior locations. With the completion of the course, the handler and dog become certified as a police patrol canine team. From this point on, training becomes a part of the team's daily activities and continues throughout the team's existence.

In 1982, law enforcement was changing and Manhattan Beach changed with it. The town's S.W.A.T. team (Special Weapons and Tactical) prepared for the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games. The team was on duty 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The k-9 team was also on duty at this time. 

Qualification for the K-9’s to work on the SWAT team are much the same as their handlers: physical, agility, strength, endurance test, and daily training activities.

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