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NEWS | Sept. 19, 2018

Combat Photojournalist translates skills to help keep city safe

By Lt. Col. Hamilton Underwood Former 4th Combat Camera Squadron commander

Frank Govea is a Los Angeles Police Department Crime Scene Photographer III. 

When at Joint Base Charleston, this crime scene photographer is Reserve Citizen Airman, Master Sgt. Frank Govea, combat photojournalist assigned to the 4th Combat Camera Squadron.

Similar jobs on opposite coasts, and as the case with many Reserve Citizen Airmen, his Air Force Reserve training led to the civilian employment.
It all started for Govea when he joined the Air Force Reserve 15 years ago. “My dad served as a Reserve Citizen Airman for 33 years,” said Govea. “He was an aerial porter and retired as a chief master sergeant.”

Knowing his son’s interest in photography, Chief Govea recommended his son consider joining the 4 CTCS, then located at March Air Reserve Base, Calif.
Govea did and he’s never looked back.

“I’ve deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan where I was embedded with the Army. I was often in dangerous situations where I learned to keep a cool head by focusing on getting the imagery I needed,” he said.

While the rigors of combat photography were excellent preparation for his current job, it was the unit-level training in sensitive site exploitation that paid off.
“I wouldn’t have been hired if it wasn’t for the SSE training,” said Govea. “I learned how to meticulously document a room from every angle and even how to collect fingerprints off items like a cell phone.”

“With the LAPD, my job is to document homicides, assaults with a deadly weapon, deadly vehicles accidents, sexual assaults, and officer-involved shootings,” said Govea. 

He said it’s a grim, but necessary task he finds satisfaction in.

“I love my job. Yes, I see the dark side of the city, but my photos can be used in trials. Every time I take a photo, it’s with the hope I am helping bring closure to families,” he said.

Govea has also found a true supporter for his Reserve Combat Camera career with the LAPD Technical Investigation Photo Unit,
“My supervisor, Mr. Larry Day, has been very supportive of my Reserve participation. He was recently recognized by Employee Support Guard and Reserve with a Patriot Award, and deservedly so,” said Govea.

As his evening watch begins, Govea never knows what the night will bring. “There are slow nights where I spend the majority of my watch processing photos and then there are those nights where it’s one crime scene after another.” 

Whatever the night does bring Govea, he stands ready, continuing to use the skills he learned as a Reserve Citizen Airman to the serve people of Los Angeles and this country.