It was a time of reflection and remembrance at a dedication ceremony of the newly-named Ian Campbell Square at the intersection of Carlos Avenue and Gower Street.
Councilmembers Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge, members of the Los Angeles Police Department, and one of Campbell’s daughters were among those on hand for the occasion on Friday.
Officer Ian Campbell was assigned to the LAPD's Hollywood Division when he and his partner, both in plainclothes, were kidnapped from the intersection of Gower and Carlos streets on March 9, 1963, while on duty. They were part of a special detail assigned to help prevent street robberies and burglaries, LAPD Chief of Detectives Kirk Albanese told the crowd.
Campbell was executed in an onion field in Kern County. His partner was able to escape and call for help. It was hence known as “The Onion Field” case. The incident also became the subject of a book authored by Joseph Wamabaugh as well as a movie. The book was often referenced during the dedication ceremony, although Wamabaugh was not in attendance.
LA District Attorney Steve Cooley regretfully spoke of the fact that Gregory Powell and Jimmy Lee Smith, who murdered Campbell, did not receive the “full measure of justice,” which “would have been their execution,” he said.
Garcetti, who introduced the idea of renaming the intersection to the City Council, spoke of his admiration of all police officers.
“Your bravery, your courage, your dedication to service is unmatched,” Garcetti told members of the LAPD Hollywood Division from the podium.
Plans are now underway to include Campbell in a “permanent museum tribute” at the Los Angeles Police Museum, according to Glynn Martin, executive director of the museum.
“This is a case where we did the best we could with the tragedy, and we built a rich tradition,” Martin said.
Valerie Campbell-Moniz, one of Campbell’s two daughters, attended Friday’s ceremony along with her husband. She helped Garcetti unveil the plaque as members of the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums stood poised nearby to close the dedication with “Amazing Grace.” Campbell was the first LAPD officer to have bagpipes played at his funeral.
The tradition has carried on to funerals for LAPD officers killed in the line of duty.
Campbell-Moniz spoke no formal words from the podium where she was presented with roses and a copy of the plaque bearing the name of the square.
“It’s an honor my dad’s being remembered,” she said after the ceremony. “It is an honor to remember and not forget.”