One of the most meticulous crime-fighting minds was that of Pierce Brooks. Brooks was a fourth-generation Californian who attended UCLA in 1941.
However, the US entered WWII and became a blimp pilot in the Navy. He went on to join the Los Angeles Police Department in 1948 and went to college for political science at the same time.
In a 1971 interview, Brooks said, “As a college man, I was a rare breed [in the department] in those days. They assigned me to the jail and gave me the job of filing warrants, and explained how to alphabetize them. I thought they were kidding.”
Brooks became the head of LAPD’s intelligence division. Once he took two suspects back to the scene of the crime after interrogating them and had them reenact what happened. At their trial, he said, “Neither of them has been reluctant to talk.”
Brooks was always intrigued by murders. He liked ones that seemed like there was no motive. He saw things that others did not.
“A husband kills his wife. He shoots her. That’s one thing. But there’s another kind. I mean where the victim is just mutilated. … And she’s a stranger. He doesn’t even know her. That sure as hell is different.”Pierce Brooks
Thinking Like A Murderer
He did not realize that he had discovered a new murderer, serial killers. Brooks was an excellent detective because he could think like his suspects. “I can go into the most bloody, hideous murder scene imaginable and not be moved,” he said in 1983 to Northwest magazine.
Joyce Brooks said the only time he was really upset was when a policeman was killed in an onion field. Brooks was the lead investigator on the case, achieving national attention when LAPD detective Joseph Wambaugh wrote The Onion Field. There was a film version in 1979.
Brooks told the LA Times that Wambaugh’s version of him was accurate. He said, “I take a lot of pride in my work.” Brooks received the J. Edgar Hoover Award for excellence in 1967 and was first in his class at the FBI National Academy, a 10-week course for law enforcement.
He was an advisor to Jack Webb on TV shows like “Dragnet” and “Adam -12.” He retired after 21 years with the LAPD.