There's a new senior lead police officer in town, and he says he's here to stay. Drake Madison spent the last four years with the LAPD's Pacific Division covering the Del Rey area before taking the helm in Mar Vista just under two months ago, after Tommy Wicks’ retirement.
Mar Vista Patch spoke with Madison about his plans for the community, why he loves his job and what he does in his spare time. It may surprise you.
Mar Vista Patch: What made you become a police officer in the first place?
Drake Madison: I was in the military for about 10 years. When I got out I knew I wanted to stay in law enforcement. It’s in my blood. I want to be out there serving the community. It gives me a sense of worth. I joined the department 14 years with the Pacific Division and I love it.
Patch: How did you land the position of senior lead in Mar Vista?
Madison: I knew Tommy Wicks [the former senior lead in Mar Vista] was retiring and I already knew some of the people in the Mar Vista area, as it was very close to the area I was covering. I was given the opportunity to watch his area as well as mine—which made for busy work—but after four years, I was ready for a change.
I wanted to try something a little different. And I was welcomed with such open arms in Mar Vista. People wanted to tell me what the issues were; they wanted to be involved. They actually asked what they could do to get me [to take over from Tommy], and when the position opened up I was lucky to get it.
Patch: There are many positions available in Pacific Division. Why did you specifically want the Mar Vista job?
Madison: While I was working alongside Tommy, people really wanted to help me help them. They were very involved. I wasn’t feeling that as much in my old area, and it’s really important that police officers and the community work well together.
Patch: You’re almost two months into the job. How has it been so far?
Madison: It’s been fantastic, and actually it’s been a lot of fun. People are constantly contacting me and letting me know what’s going on. There is a very different mentality here in Mar Vista.
When you cover a neighborhood that has hundreds of apartments where people mostly rent they can simply move if there are problems. That’s not the case in Mar Vista. This is an area with homes, where people have mortgages and are invested in the community. Some people have been here 30, 40 or 50 years. For them it’s not about picking up and leaving, it’s about trying to solve the problems.
Patch: What are the problems in Mar Vista?
Madison: This is only my second month, but so far in terms of crime, it’s property crime with home burglaries and cars being broken into. When it comes to quality of life issues, it’s the whole issue of RVs being parked in the neighborhood. That’s also something that’s a problem throughout the whole of the Pacific Division.
Patch: How do you plan on addressing these issues?
Madison: With the RVs it’s about dealing with compliance, making sure people aren’t living in those vehicles and either citing them, towing them, or getting signs up throughout the area stating that no oversized vehicles can be parked there. Sometimes there’s illegal activity being conducted from them, like people selling drugs, but in some cases they are simply an eyesore. We want to have a place for RV dwellers to park, but at the same time, they shouldn’t be parked in front of your house.
When it comes to the criminal activity, it’s a matter of educating people how to secure their homes and their vehicles, making sure to keep expensive things out of plain sight. I’m also working to educate people through Neighborhood Watch groups.
I’ve found there are already large areas that have Neighborhood Watches and there are more people wanting to get involved. I make sure to try and go to many of these meetings, because, again, having that relationship with the police department is so important. Here, people know they have me—one person they can contact —their very own police officer.
Patch: What do you personally bring to the Mar Vista community?
Madison: Aside from a love for my job, I have enormous dedication to people and I love the cooperation and communication with people. I enjoy helping people solve their problems. It energizes me. I love coming to work.
Every day for the last 14 years I love driving up the driveway at Pacific Division every morning and seeing that big line of police cars. It’s my second home. This job makes me happy and allows me to give the best service I can give.
Patch: What would you like residents to know about you?
Madison: If anything, that they are probably going to have me for a while. I’m looking to spend a minimum of five years here. The longer I can be here the closer connection I can have to the community. I want to help make it a great place for residents.
I’m also very approachable. Sometimes people feel a little weird talking to a police officer in uniform, but I like to talk! I’m that personable person who just likes to yack your ear off. I’m dedicated to community safety. I want residents to know I’m here to take care of the criminal side of things so they can enjoy their families, enjoy their lives and have fun and feel safe here in Mar Vista.
Patch: What’s the best way for residents to contact you?
Madison: By phone on 310-622-3973 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. When I come in in the morning and I’m still in my jeans and T-shirt, the first thing I do is read my e-mails. So e-mail is probably best. At the same time I do like to talk. So I guess you can call me too.
Patch: Can you tell the community something personal about yourself, beyond being a police officer?
Madison: Well, I guess my biggest hobby is NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Drag Racing. Some people like pro football. For me it’s the NHRA. And the season starts on Feb. 27. I can’t wait!