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Special tribute: When a great cop retires

From intern to chief, Scott Edson continually evolved with the demands of the law enforcement profession and helped advance LASD’s mission

Scott Edson of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department retires today as the chief of the LASD’s Special Operations Division – a leadership position that only exemplary individuals can handle.

The division includes homeland security, counterterrorism, intelligence, SWAT, air operations, crime analysis, information sharing, street gang investigations, emergency management, crisis negotiations, arson and explosives and the mental evaluation teams.

Edson is retiring after 39 years, four months and 12 days of county service. He is undoubtedly one of the most forward-thinking and progressive law enforcement officials I have ever met. His knowledge, acumen and progressive thinking have benefited the LASD and the law enforcement community as a whole.

When Edson told me about his retirement, I knew that it was a great move for him – but it would be an incredible loss to the department. However, LASD couldn’t be more supportive and grateful for his tour of duty. The department went above and beyond by filming this special video on his last ride on patrol with his son (also a deputy sheriff).

History of service

Edson’s service with LASD is impressive. Like most law enforcement officials, he wore many hats throughout his professional career – and it all started with an internship. Below is a timeline of his major milestones and career history with the department.

  • 1977-1978 Intern at Temple Station
  • 1978-1979 Off-the-Street Deputy
  • 1979 Cadet Academy Class 194
  • 1979-1981 Deputy at Men’s Central Jail
  • 1981-1987 Firestone Station
  • 1987-1990 Sergeant at Carson Station
  • 1990-1998 Emergency Operations Bureau
  • 1998-1999 Lieutenant at PDC-East Facility
  • 1999-2000 Century Station
  • 2000-2004 Data Systems Bureau
  • 2004-2005 Information Systems Advisory Body
  • 2005-2008 Technical Services Division HQ
  • 2008-2013 Captain Communications and Fleet Management Bureau
  • 2013-2015 Commander Technical Services Division
  • 2015-2017 Chief Special Operations Division

His commitment to service is demonstrated in his advancement at LASD. From intern to chief, he continually evolved with the demands of the law enforcement profession and helped advance his department’s mission.

What’s next

Edson is always giving back to law enforcement. He has directly and indirectly contributed to so many organizations outside LASD.

For years he has been a very active member of several non-profits from the National Sheriffs’ Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major County Sheriffs’ Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, the International Public Safety Association and several others.

Edson doesn’t just join an organization; he throws himself into leadership positions so he can make a difference, effect policy and ensure that local law enforcement always has a voice at the table. In addition to his charitable work, Edson has also been a longtime reader and resource to Police1.

Like most truly dedicated law enforcement officials, Edson will continue helping all first responders after his career retirement. After a nationwide search, Edson was selected to serve as the new Executive Director of the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System, and he is committed to continue serving as Chairman of the Board for the International Public Safety Association.

I’ve been lucky throughout my professional career to meet, work and learn from so many great law enforcement practitioners. I first met Edson in 2005 when he was a lieutenant and our paths continued to cross over the years as we advanced in our careers.

Chief Edson, congratulations on your retirement and thank you for all of your years of law enforcement service.

Heather R. Cotter has been working with public safety professionals for 20 years and understands the resource challenges and constraints agencies face. Heather is a Captain in the United States Army Reserve and holds two master’s degrees from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. Contact her at