Meet Brentwood’s New Top Cop
Maria Gray is Brentwood’s new LAPD Senior Lead Officer, replacing Phil Enbody, who just retired. In this Q&A with the Brentwood News, Officer Gray talks about her first impressions of Brentwood -- and what we should all do to keep the neighborhood safe and sound. by Jeff Hall
By Brentwood News November 2012 | November 21, 2012
Photographed by Yolanda Pulakis
Q: First of all, welcome to Brentwood, Officer Gray. How would you like us to address you?
A: Please call me Maria. I like to keep things friendly and informal with the community. I believe it makes me more accessible to people when they have comments or questions.
Q: Tell us your background, Maria. Where are you from? How did you become interested in police work? What assignments have you held with the LAPD?
A: I grew up in Southern California, specifically, South Orange County near the old El Toro Marine Base (now long gone). Came to live in Los Angeles in 1984 when, interestingly enough, I saw my very first woman police officer, ever, driving through Hollywood. I was so impressed that when I became burnt out of working in the hotel industry, I joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1993. I’ve been fortunate to have been chosen for a variety of specialized units since the beginning of my career: Special Problems Unit (SPU), Vice, Gangs (CRASH), Special Events, until I was awarded a spot as a Senior Lead Officer (SLO) for the Hollywood area in 2002. In 2008, I transferred to the West Los Angeles area and have worked as a Senior Lead Officer for the Pico/Robertson area up until coming to Brentwood. I have one grown son, whom I’m extremely proud of, finishing up his last semester of college in Denmark.
Q: What is your rank, exactly?
A: Senior Lead Officer (or “SLO”). Each “SLO” is responsible for a respective geographic area. We serve as the liaison between the Department and the community. We rely on the community’s help to achieve crime rate reductions as well as a better quality of life for the residents. Without this vital partnership, these goals would be nearly impossible to achieve.
Q: Is it unusual for a woman to serve as SLO?
A: Not so much anymore. When I first came on the Department it was common to have only one female SLO per division, if that. Now there may be a few per division-- however, I’m still the only female SLO in the West Los Angeles area.
Q: Any first impressions of Brentwood?
A: Lovely! The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing and people are warm and welcoming! We’re going to work together to keep it that way.
Q: You of course know Phil Enbody. In fact, he told me he recommended you as his replacement. Any plans for how you might do things differently once you settle in?
A: Phil is certainly a tough act to follow! I teased him that he could run for “mayor” of Brentwood since he was so hugely popular. I don’t expect to do things that much differently from Phil. Of course, we all have our own strengths and styles, but the goal is always the same regardless of area and that is to provide the best service possible to the community.
Q: What words of wisdom do you have for the citizens of Brentwood in terms of deterring crime?
A: West Los Angeles area’s crime is 95% property crime. That is, burglaries, car break-ins and car thefts, shoplifts, etc. We would put such a huge dent in crime if we could all simply remember to conduct our business as they do in other parts of the big city e.g. never leave items in their cars, leaving a light or radio on at home when out, parking in well lit areas and keeping the doors locked. We get very complacent on the Westside. We officers are constantly taking reports for people who have left their computers, I-pads, I-pods, purses or gym bags in their cars. We simply shake our heads. And unfortunately, it usually takes becoming a victim of a crime before people get wise about it and change their habits. Every time you park and go to walk away from your car, take a moment to look back inside and try to see things through the eyes of a thief. Another trick is to ask yourself, “How upset am I going to be to come back and find my laptop gone?” Food for thought.
Q: If someone in Brentwood wants to contact you, how should that person do that?
A: My phone number will be the same as Officer Enbody’s -- (310) 444-0744 -- my email however is firstname.lastname@example.org I may continue to use Officer Enbody’s email occasionally to blast out information to the community over the next few months, so even though he’s retired, don’t be surprised to see his name still pop up on your computers once in a while.
Q: Anything else?
A: I truly feel blessed having been awarded this position. I have friends and family who live in the area so I will care for this community with the utmost regard and attention. That being said, it’s also a two way street. Our job is to engage the community towards problem solving. It’s not going to be enough to simply complain about a situation. I may ask, “What are you doing to help in this situation?” So let’s get started. I’m looking forward to it!!
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