Upon being selected as director of the Los Angeles Police Museum, Erica Arias, a Mexican-American of immigrant grandparents from northern Mexico, became the first woman and the first member of the Latino community to hold the position.
“When I was recruited for the position and selected from 70 applicants, I ran my own business consulting in leadership, fundraising, business development, and nonprofits,” she says.
But being selected makes her feel very blessed. “When they gave me the news, I sat quietly and thanked God for this opportunity, especially at a time when people are losing jobs and struggling to find employment.”
The announcement that she would be the director of the Los Angeles Police Museum also stunned her.
“I was looking to be in a place where I could really bridge the gap between our law enforcement officers and our communities,” he says.
And she believes that her experience and education were very influential in being chosen for the position. “I have my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of La Verne, and I am working on a second master’s degree in leadership with the University of Southern California (USC).”
Arias comes from a family of policemen. His father is a retired sheriff’s deputy and his stepfather was a sergeant in the LAPD’s Metro division.
“I think it gave me a certain advantage to earn the position of being a consultant for law enforcement agencies because I know the culture and how to use my skills here.”
The Los Angeles Police Museum located in the Highland Park neighborhood was founded in the early 1900s, but was decommissioned in 1983 and then officially reopened in 2001. The board of directors is made up of retired police officers. “Our president is Roberto Alanis, a sergeant for the LAPD’s northeast area,” says Arias.
The new director says that because the museum is a non-profit organization, her main responsibility will be to keep it financially stable.
“We have stable income with a strong donor base, but we want to make sure we continue to raise funds to keep the building open and continue to build bridges with our communities so that people can see not only the history of LAPD through this museum but also how important is the LAPD in the history of Los Angeles ”.
Arias has held the position since March and was selected for the position at times of great tension between the community and the country’s police forces due to the excess force used in some high-profile cases. He explains that due to such scrutiny and calls for reforms, the Museum’s job is precisely to educate the community about the role of the police.
“We want people to understand that this is a place of education and learning, and that together we can build bridges by having productive conversations. I hope that the museum can be that place of understanding and learning ”.
What can we expect when we visit the museum?
“Lots of LAPD history. We have the exhibition Onion field at the Los Angeles Police Museum that honors the memory of two police officers who were kidnapped after questioning two robbery suspects during a traffic stop, and one of them was killed. “
He adds that they will find the most important events of the LAPD. “In our shooting room you can see the notorious North Hollywood bank robbery that occurred in February 1997. We have all the original artifacts from that shooting, and we just removed some of the equipment used to arrest Charles’s family Manson ”.
It also reveals that they have renovated the first floor displays to show that in the 19th century the LAPD’s first chief, Juan Carrillo, was Latino and Robert Stewart was the first African-American police officer, after escaping from slavery.
“With these stories we want to show that we have evolved and that the LAPD is a progressive police department.”
She was recently named president of the Northeast Division Police Activities League, a youth program that offers tutoring and self defense classes.
Although she was born in Los Angeles, the new director of the LA Police Museum, considers herself Mexican American because her grandmother emigrated from Cananea, Sonora; and on his father’s side they are from Chihuahua and Durango. “We are Northerners.”
Arias says she takes it as a great responsibility to be seen as a role model for young Latinas. “What I tell them most is that they are going to face many battles, but if there is a desire in their heart to serve, they should not let anything stop them from pursuing what they feel is for them, because what is for you will not happen. long ”.
It underlines that she always tells people that she is a fighter and a warrior. “I have known since I was a child. So if there is something inside of you that tells you that you are a fighter, believe it and believe what that little voice is telling you because there will be voices in your head that tell you not to believe, but do not pay attention to every thought that passes through you. mind. It takes time, but you will get there ”.
Los Angeles Police Museum
6045 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042
They open from Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm
Starting in September, they will open every third Saturday.
Adults $ 10
Children $ 8
Seniors and children under 8 years old, free