LAPD Officer Greg Jacobus leaves Playa Vista more connected than he found it
By Stephanie Case
For more than five years, Gregg Jacobus was a familiar face in Playa Vista. Most days, you could catch him driving by Concert Park in his midnight blue Los Angeles Police Department uniform, a badge pinned to his chest. He’d stop to chat with business owners and wave to kids, always running into a new face.
“Some people share their whole story of why they moved from back east to Playa Vista, and how much they love it here,” he says. “It’s fun to get to know the people of the community.”
Jacobus is a 17-year veteran of the LAPD. Over his nearly two decades of service, he’s flitted across different L.A. County neighborhoods, from Venice to San Pedro to Leimert Park.
The longest he was rooted in one community — up until he left the Pacific Division this November — was in and around Playa Vista, working as
a senior lead officer.
When he first got to town, Jacobus saw Playa Vista blossom, as tech companies, restaurants and residential properties sprouted seemingly overnight.
“One week, I’d see one building, and the next week, I’d see eight buildings,” says Jacobus. “You see a plot of land, and the next thing you know it’s a community — and then a city. It’s almost surreal.”
As Playa Vista grew, crime rates ticked up, Jacobus says. In response, he saw the community unite. Neighborhood Watch groups cropped up across town, and online organizations — like the nearly 1,800-member Playa Vista Neighborhood Exchange — began to share information to keep each other safe and informed.
Jacobus and his fellow officers have formed close bonds with the groups; whenever there’s a crime spike or an important safety notice to be disseminated, he can pass it along to them, knowing word will spread like wildfire.
“This whole neighborhood has been really supportive of the police department,” he says.
That support is apparent everywhere Jacobus goes — and in a country stricken by tense police and community relations, it’s refreshing. He’ll show up at neighborhood picnics, strike up conversations with parents on the block, and let their curious children hop inside his police car.
“A lot of kids are shy around police officers, but we’re just regular people,” he says. “Once they say hi and get to know us, it opens up their mind about the police. In the long run, if they ever need help, now they’re able to come and talk to us instead of shying away.”
When winter rolls around each year, Jacobus and his fellow officers organize events for local children, like an annual visit with Santa.
“One of our old senior lead officers built a sleigh and painted it in the colors of a police car with lights and sirens” Jacobus says. “Every December, we bring it to Concert Park, and all the kids in the community come. It’s just amazing.”
Last year, hundreds of kids lined the north side of the park, waiting for hours for their chance to take a photo with Santa, hand him their Christmas wish list and get a candy cane.
One of Jacobus’ favorite events is “Winter Wonderland,” an annual toy drive thrown by the LAPD Pacific Division on every second Saturday of December. Playa Vista neighbors can drop off toys with the police, which will be given to children whose families have a tough time affording gifts.
“Even though [the event is] on a Saturday, kids will literally line up on Friday morning in order to be the first in line,” Jacobus says. “They wait outside a huge tent, filled with 3,000 toys.”
One by one, each child gets the chance to run inside, handpick their very own present from the mountains of toys, and then snack on hot dogs, chips and sodas outside.
“It’s tough to see someone who’s down on their luck, but just to see that gleam in their eye, and how thankful and happy that they’re holding that Barbie Doll, it’s just amazing,” Jacobus gushes. “You can’t put that in words.”
Even though Jacobus has now left the Pacific Division, it’s these memories — of connecting with the Playa Vista community and building relationships with the people he served — that won’t soon fade.
To get in touch with the LAPD’s Pacific Division, call (310) 202-2890 or visit lapdonline.org.