Oldest Rookie Ever Resigns From LAPD, Won’t Say Why : Law enforcement: Academy grad agreed there was a problem, perhaps safety related, but gave no details.


Four months ago he was the oldest Los Angeles Police Department rookie in history, and TV news crews accompanied him on his first patrol. Now 59-year-old Edward Olivares is just another citizen, saying he turned in his badge because of a problem he won’t discuss in detail.

Olivares confirmed Tuesday that he had resigned Saturday because his training officers had warned him he didn’t meet LAPD standards.

Olivares, of Calabasas, said he did not want to discuss his resignation “until I’ve had time to sort this out, until I’ve been able to come to a conclusion about what actually happened.”


Olivares said his training officer informed him he was lacking in officer safety skills, a category that includes officers’ ability to protect themselves in dealing with suspects, including using their guns.

Olivares said he resigned because he was worried that he would endanger his fellow officers or the public.

He refused to comment on whether he felt he had been forced out because of age discrimination. He said, “Yes, there is a problem” connected with his resignation, but he would not elaborate on what it was.

Police Department officials refused to discuss Olivares’ departure, saying it was a confidential personnel matter.

“He’s going to be OK,” said a police source close to the case. “He just wasn’t as good as we thought he was going to be.”

After his graduation from the Police Academy in November, Olivares became a probationary patrol officer at the Foothill station in the northeast San Fernando Valley. All Academy graduates are probationary officers for one year, during which they are coached and evaluated by a veteran officer known as a training officer.

Until the probationary year is up, officers can easily be dismissed. At the end of the year, they face a formal decision on whether they will be retained.

LAPD officers said that when probationary officers are doing poorly, they are frequently advised by their superiors to resign so they won’t have to be fired.

But an LAPD spokeswoman said that’s not the case. Probationers having trouble are offered remedial classes at the Police Academy, said Officer Sandra Castello.

“There is no reason why anyone should not make it through probation with all the support that is available, other than changing your mind because you realize it (police work) is not what you anticipated,” she said.

After he was laid off from his aerospace job in December, 1990, Olivares, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, began working out. Daily, he ran five miles, swam 20 laps in his condominium’s 30-foot pool and lifted weights for 90 minutes. He also attended the famed Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, but was unable to get a job as a chef.

“I found out that LAPD was hiring and that my age was not a barrier, and I said to myself, ‘This is something that I can be proud of for the rest of my life,’ ” Olivares said in November.

His first day on the job was recorded by television cameras, and his story made national headlines. But there were no cameras on hand to record his last day of work Saturday.

“It’s a very physically grueling job to learn,” said Gary Fullerton, a director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the police officers’ union.

“It’s a demanding job,” Fullerton said, but added: “I think he was physically up to it.”

Fullerton said that so far, Olivares had not sought the union’s help in filing a grievance against the LAPD.

“He’s the one who needs to decide whether he’s been treated right or not,” Fullerton said.

Cliff Ruff, another union director, said that because Olivares resigned, he would first have to successfully retract his resignation if he wanted to file a complaint with the union that his rights as an LAPD employee had been violated. A union legal committee would then review his complaint and decide whether it had any merit.

Dennis Zine, another director, said he was among the officers who conducted Olivares’ oral interview when Olivares first applied to the LAPD.

“He was impressive in the oral interview and he got through the academy, but the real test is when you hit the field,” Zine said. “There’s the reality.”

“I don’t know what happened,” Zine said. “Everybody was wishing him the best, but evidently it didn’t materialize.”

Times staff writer Jeanette DeSantis contributed to this story.