A Conversation With Jon Peters ’85

Capt. Jon Peters ’85 is in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division, which patrols 26 square miles, with 217,000 residents in Venice, Mar Vista, Marina del Rey, Westchester and the LAX vicinity. He joined the LAPD in 1987 as a patrol officer, became a detective in 1994 and was promoted to sergeant in 1996. While at LMU, Peters met his wife, Cathy ’85, who was studying at the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering. Peters was interviewed by John Kissell.

If I asked you in your senior year at LMU where you’d be now, would you have said, “LAPD captain, Pacific Division”?
I would’ve said that I would be in the LAPD, but I wouldn’t have imagined being captain of the Pacific Division, and being so close to LMU.

As captain, do you get out on the streets?
Yes, but not as much as I would like. I truly enjoy interacting with the officers and the community in that environment.

Do you miss being in the patrol car?
Very much so. I love doing street police work and look back on those days as some of the most memorable and rewarding moments of my career.

You were in the mounted patrol. What was that like?
That was a great assignment. I did that for one-and-a-half years, with a horse named Bo. It’s a crime-fighting division, not for parades. Mounted patrols are involved in crime suppression, crowd control, and search and rescue.

How do you deal with the tragedy and sadness you sometimes see at crime scenes?
I guess I’m blessed that God helps me acknowledge tragedy but allows me to compartmentalize my emotions so that I can do my job effectively and efficiently.

Is it true that you once were stopped at the LMU gate while trying to enter the campus?
I was. I was in uniform, in a black and white [police cruiser], but they said they hadn’t called for police so they wouldn’t let me on campus. I even told them I am an alumnus.

What do you do about job stress?
Three things help me: Exercise — I train for triathlons. I don’t have much time, so I do the minimum to maintain a level of fitness that is above average. I also pray. And I talk with my wife about the difficult things I encounter.

Have you ever used your firearm?
I have never been involved in an officer-involved shooting.

What would you guess is the percentage of officers who have never used their weapon?
Very few officers will be involved in an officer-involved shooting in the course of their career. Fortunately, our training prepares us to be ready should the circumstances present themselves. Many people focus on that aspect of our profession, but there is a lot more to serving and protecting than carrying a gun.

You have degrees from both LMU and Gonzaga — who do you root for when they play each other?
Wow, that’s a hard one. I would have to say Gonzaga. I have been a huge John Stockton fan since watching him single handedly destroy the Lions back when I was a student. I am encouraged, however, by the progress of the current LMU team and look for them to have a big year.

There is a collection of memorial coins that you keep on your shelf. Which one is the most recent?
The most recent is a coin commemorating Police Officer R.J. Cottle. I worked with R.J. in SWAT before I made captain. R.J. was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in March while serving as a sergeant major in the U.S. Marine Corps. One side of the coin depicts R.J. in his LAPD uniform, the other side has him in his Marine Corps uniform. He left behind a wife and a newborn baby. Talk about service. … He was a true hero!