Joseph Aloysius Wambaugh, Jr. (born January 22, 1937, in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is a bestselling American writer known for his fictional and non-fictional accounts of police work in the United States. Several of his first novels were set in Los Angeles, California, and the surrounding area, and featured Los Angeles police officers as protagonists.
The son of a police officer, Wambaugh joined the U.S. Marines at age 17 (an element he works into several of his novels) and married at 18.
Wambaugh received an Associate's degree from Chaffey College and joined the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 1960. He served 14 years, rising through the ranks from patrolman to detective sergeant. He also attended California State University, Los Angeles, where he earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees.