VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
To Serve and Protect Those Who Have Served
Captain Kathy Treadwell is the Operations Captain for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Police at the West Los Angeles (WLA) campus. Prior to joining the VA police force 11 years ago, Capt. Treadwell served a stint in the Signal Corp of the United States Army. One of the things she enjoys most about her job is that it provides her with opportunities to help Veterans.
Do you have to be a Veteran to serve on the VA Police Force?
We’re mostly people who have worked in the military in law enforcement and as we’ve got out of the service or retired we’ve come over here to now help other veterans. We have representatives from all of the services: Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy. This way we always have someone who can relate to the Veterans, people who can understand what the Veterans are trying to cope with. We do have a very small percentage of officers that are non-veterans.
Is being a VA police officer any different than being a traditional civilian police officer?
It’s quite a bit different than municipal [law enforcement] in that we’re 95-percent non-crime and only 5-percent crime. The 95-percent is providing deterrent to any criminal activity, providing security for the department, the property, and basic security for everyone.
But at this particular location, we’re a city within a city so we have quite a lot more crime than other facilities do.
How large is the VA police force at WLA?
We have a force of 55 officers and we are pretty active.
Are there benefits to being a VA police officer rather than a city cop?
You can include prior military service if you become a federal employee here and piggyback your years. I was very fortunate to come here in my latter years and continue my law enforcement career. We do not have an age limit; you just have to pass the physical. That’s another one of the benefits of being a VA police officer.
At this particular facility we have both federal and state statutes and regulations so we can arrest for state and federal crimes. Most VA facilities are limited to federal regulations but because of our location we have the option of using both.
Do you find the job emotionally gratifying?
Our primary goal is to provide for veterans. We’re able to be here for them and to provide what we can. We have so many resources we can offer veterans. They can get medical treatment here, they can get the support if that’s what they need, and sometimes it includes trying to get them back on track and trying to get them a place to stay. Homelessness is a big issue for the VA, particularly for WLA and so we deal with it constantly. I’ve seen veterans during the time I’ve been here that were homeless and now have a stable place to live and have become part of the community and now volunteer here in West LA. So you can see the progress and that’s very satisfying.