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Today in History: The North Hollywood Shootout Changed Law Enforcement Forever

The violent robbery was one of the most notorious crimes in the history of Los Angeles.

Fifteen years ago today, two men armed with assault rifles and wearing body armor exchanged gunfire with members of the Los Angeles Police Department outside the Bank of America at 6600 Laurel Canyon Blvd. in North Hollywood.

It would forever be dubbed "The North Hollywood shootout," and it would forever change law enforcement policies and procedures.

In a battle that lasted around 44 minutes, the robbers fired off over 1,100 rounds and injured 11 police officers and seven civilians. The two robbers, Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Matasareanu, died in the shootout.

One of the most notable changes that resulted from the shootout was the increase in firepower the LAPD and police agencies in the state underwent. During the robbery, most of the original responding officers were only armed with handguns and some officers ended up commandeering assault weapons from a nearby gun shop in order to compete with the robbers' powerful weapons.

According to an Associated Press report, peace officers throughout California have purchased more than 7,600 assault weapons that are outlawed for civilians in the decade since state lawmakers allowed the practice. Part of the reason police sought the 2001 exemption from the state's assault weapons ban is because of the North Hollywood shootout.

Since the shootout, the number of bank robberies Southern California has fallen significantly.

"(The North Hollywood shootout's) chilling effect created a climate for improved cooperation among law enforcement agencies," said FBI agent Timothy Delaney, according to the Sacramento Bee. "Since that time bank robberies all across the region have decreased every year with very few exceptions."

Today at 7:30 a.m., the Universal City-North Hollywood Chamber of Commerce will host a breakfast at the Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City where, who exchanged fire with the robbers and has written a book about the experience. Check back later for a full story on the event.

See these previous stories on the North Hollywood Shootout:

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