Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Jeri Weinstein started her law-enforcement career as a reserve officer with the Culver City Police Department before signing on full time with the LAPD and rising to become one its highest-ranking women.
When she leaves the department at the end of this month after 30 years of full-time service, she will come full circle by becoming one of the highest-ranking officers so far to join the LAPD's 276-member volunteer reserve force.
Weinstein, 58, joins a growing number of LAPD officers -- and command staff members -- who have joined LAPD Reserves after retirement.
These retirees make up roughly a quarter of the current field qualified reserve force. Since July 2010, 42 officers of varying ranks have continued service as reserve cops.
Chief Charlie Beck said the reserves have always performed a valuable function, complementing the full-time force as well as connecting to the community.
But those contributions are amplified in an era of tight budgets and a generational turnover that will see a steady increase in retirements in the coming months and years. And Beck should know: He started off his career in the LAPD as a reserve officer.
"It's a tremendous help," Beck said, noting that it's crucial to retain officers "like Jeri who have so much institutional knowledge."
"It says a lot about the organization that people like Jeri, who spent three decades here, still want to contribute, and not in a casual way. It's a sign of a very healthy organization."
Recent retirees also include LAPD Captain Nick Zingo of the West Valley Patrol Division and longtime LAPD police academy drill sergeant and current Huntington Beach Council member Jim Katapodis.
Currently, two active LAPD reserve officers also serve on the L.A. City Council: Joe Buscaino and Mitch Englander. Former Councilman Dennis Zine, who recently lost his bid for city controller, remains a reserve as does former Councilman Grieg Smith, who works with the LAPD Robbery-Homicide Cold Case unit.
After Weinstein graduated from the University of Illinois with a masters in social work, jobs were scarce and she sold cars at a Chicago-area Chevrolet dealership. During a bitterly cold winter, she visited California and fell in love with Los Angeles.
She had long been interested in a career in law enforcement. Initially, she was unable to meet requirements to become a street cop because of her height. She is 5 feet tall.
Undaunted, she became a counselor for the Beverly Hills Police Department and soon got her first chance to work the street by becoming a reserve police officer in Culver City.
"I loved the work and when LAPD was hiring, I signed up," Weinstein said. "I was hired in 1983, when it was a very different time and organizational culture."
"I am so proud of how the department has evolved and am proud to have been part of the many positive changes that have occurred over the years," Weinstein said. "Now I want to give back to this organization as a reserve."