Marion Phillips; Helped Found LAPD Organized Crime Force

Marion B. Phillips, a co-founder of the Los Angeles Police Department's Organized Crime Intelligence Division, a forerunner of similar intelligence units across the country, has died.

Phillips was 85 and died in a Los Angeles hospital Saturday.

With the late Capt. James Hamilton, Phillips formed an elite corps of officers who harassed organized crime figures as they tried to gain influence in this city.

At the time, Police Chief William H. Parker, who conceived the unit, credited it with making a "Mickey Mouse Mafia" of would-be criminal syndicates.

Originally, the squad operated near Los Angeles International Airport, where officers greeted mobsters as they stepped off planes.

Lt. Frank Skrah, who was a young officer in the unit when Phillips was nearing retirement, said police would "welcome" them and say, "We know you're in a strange city and we don't want you to get lost, so we'll be following you around."

What began under Phillips and Hamilton in the early 1950s as the "Gang Squad" now has 52 detectives.

Born in Illinois, Williams came to Los Angeles as a youth and served as an intelligence agent in the Coast Guard during World War II.

After retiring from the Police Department in 1967 after 30 years service, he was named by state Atty. Gen. Thomas C. Lynch as head of a special state investigating unit to battle syndicated crime.

Phillips' survivors include his wife, Nancy, a son, a daughter and seven grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. at Cresse Mortuary, Eagle Rock.

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