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Ex Historiam: LA County Sheriff’s Department Range Time 1938

The LA County Sheriffs Department was founded in April of 1850; the first Sheriff was George T. Burrill. He had two deputies working for him. The SD has had a long and storied history, with many interesting units and departments over the years. For instance, the “Aero Squadron” to fly helicopter support was created in 1931, 7 years before this video was filmed—nearly 80 years before that, and much longer before the current professional mounted patrol, there was a mounted posse of ‘Los Angeles Rangers’ who were supervised through the Captain via the office of the Sheriff. In 1935 the Sheriff’s School of Instruction (later the LA County Sheriff’s Academy) was opened, and in 1958, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department established its SEB (Special Enforcement Bureau) as a ‘call at need’ response force of SWAT and other specialty deputies.

This color remastered video was filmed sometime in 1938 at the Biscailuz Range (named for Sheriff Eugene W.Biscailuz, and reopened in 201). Though the title refers to the LA County Sheriff Pistol Team, the video also displays contemporary training methodology, shooting drills, and other facets of 1930s LEO range time. It’s a unique look not just at LASD history, but at that of law enforcement in general. Some of the facts are surprising, though on consideration they shouldn’t be. For instance, the LASD (and undoubtedly many others) had deputies or other personnel assigned to reloading ammunition.

There are several particularly interesting points during the video. The Range Master working with a rookie on his grip about 6:30 or so, then making sure his arm is properly extended in a one-handed grip, other hand on his hip and hammer cocked before each shot. At 10:25 you will begin to see shooting drills, like the “Gang Buster’ multiple target engagement exercise. Later at 13:47 deputies are learning the cycle of operations of a ‘Tommy Gun’, and we get our first good look at semi-autos (apparently in the hands of LASD Reserve Deputies1) at 15:12.

Though long, the video is worth watching, and it’s always interesting to see that while some things change, many remain the same.


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1At one time, LASD deputies wore blue and reserves wore tan—and many of both carried their weapons in a cross-draw holster

Nod to Mossie Tactics for pointing out the film.


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