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L.A. Police Officer Builds Trust With Community

Michael Chang has been a police officer in Los Angeles for 16 years, and the past 13 years, he has been specifically assigned to gang units. Chang continues to receive post-grad credits and college credits at Los Angeles City College while participating in department training. Chang shares his insights and knowledge of being a police officer.

(Photo Courtesy of Michael Chang)

What are the scope and responsibilities of your current role?

"I am currently responsible to monitor and suppress the criminal activities of gangs. I conduct thorough gang investigations, assist other entities and testify in court as a gang expert."

What is your favorite part of your daily duties?

"The best part of my job is being able to help people who are too scared to stand up to gangs and gang members, being able to build up trust so they will provide me with information that I can use to make a difference."

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

"To be honest, my education helped me out with my career as an officer, but not as a gang officer. I rely on common sense, street knowledge and experience. I have since attended some classes on gangs, which was helpful, but no better experience than on the job training. College is very helpful, depending on the subject matter. The criminal justice classes I took gave me a background of what to expect on the job."

Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?

"My advice to anyone seeking a similar career would be to have compassion. Do the right things at the right time for the right reasons and you will have a successful career.

In the light of what is happening today throughout the nation, not too many people want to be officers. You have to understand why you wanted to be a cop, the difference you can make and realize, bad publicity comes with any job. The threat of death is an everyday thing, but if you keep your head in the game, rely on your training and education, you will be fine. As with anything, block out the negatives."

Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of and Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of cities, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on

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