Stephen Downing began his twenty-year police career in a squad car and finished as a deputy chief of police. As Commander of the Bureau of Special Investigations at one point, the Administrative Narcotics Division was one of the divisions within his scope of authority. His vast experience in law enforcement has led him to the conclusion that the War on Drugs can never be worth the human and fiscal costs.
Stephen spent twelve years assigned to operations in South Central Los Angeles. He is a veteran of the Watts riot and its aftermath, which gave birth to the first community-based policing programs in the country. His assignments covered a wide range of specializations including patrol, criminal investigation, narcotics, vice and organized crime intelligence. Among the many commands held in the LAPD, his most memorable include: Captain of Detectives, where he established homicide investigation techniques still in use today; Commanding Officer of Juvenile Division, where he established and published a file that brought an end to abuses in state probation subsidy programs; and Commanding Officer of Southwest Area, where he designed and implemented the first functionally integrated police operation in law enforcement aimed at combating gang activity – a program that became a national model. As a staff officer Stephen was involved in reorganizing the LAPD from a centralized functional organization to a decentralized line organization.