Law and Order

Lieutenant Anita Van Buren was the commanding officer of the 27th Precinct for almost 20 years. She replaced Captain Donald Cragen as head of the precinct in 1993. (L&O: "Sweeps")


During her lengthy tenure as squad leader of the Two-Seven, she commanded various detectives; this included Lennie Briscoe, Mike Logan, Tony Profaci, Rey Curtis, Morris LaMotte, Sammy Kurtz, Ed Green, Reina Perez, Ana Cordova, Joe Fontana, Nick Falco, Nina Cassady, Cyrus Lupo and Kevin Bernard.

In 1994, during an attempted robbery on her while at an ATM, Van Buren shot one of her robbers in the arm, but the bullet passed through and killed the other robber, a mentally disabled kid who was unarmed. Van Buren was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting as she didn't intentionally kill the young man, but it continued to haunt her. She also helped to put away the other robber for the young man's death with the help of the mother of the kid she killed. (L&O: "Competence")

In 1997, she sued the NYPD after a white woman with less experience was promoted over her (L&O: "Ritual"). Her lawsuit, which resulted in an increased workload upon her precinct in retaliation, was unsuccessful (L&O: "Bad Girl"; "Monster").

In 2001, Van Buren discovered that a case she solved 12 years earlier had been tainted by a fabricated fingerprint match given to her by her friend in the forensics department, Lisa Russo. As a result, two innocent suspects were imprisoned and one of them died before they could be exonerated. In the end, Russo went to jail for her misconduct. Though Briscoe assured Van Buren that she was not at fault for what happened, she still felt very much guilty as her involvement in the original case was what got her promoted. (L&O: "Myth of Fingerprints")

In 2002, she assisted A.D.A. Ron Carver in setting up a sting operation to arrest another former acquaintance, Terry Randolph, for murder. (CI: "Badge")

In 2010, Van Buren spoke of and was seen getting treatment for cervical cancer (L&O: "Memo From The Dark Side"). She initially resists taking medical marijuana due to its illegality, but the Chief of Detectives gives her advice and help, revealing that he is a testicular cancer survivor and is willing to look the other way for Van Buren as long as she is discreet about it. (L&O: "Boy Gone Astray") By the end of the season, she appeared to have been cured of her cancer. At the party where she appeared to get the good news, she also announced her engagement to her boyfriend Frank Gibson and received donations from all of her friends to help pay for Van Buren's treatment. One of the donations came from the head of a teacher's union that the police had clashed with during their case who brought with him donations from the Police Commissioner and the Mayor, stating that Van Buren had a lot of friends standing with her. (L&O: "Rubber Room") She presumably retired sometime afterward; as of 2013, Toni Howard was head of the Two-Seven. (SVU: "Poisoned Motive")

Officer-involved shootings


  • Van Buren is the longest-lasting main character of the original Law & Order series, followed by Jack McCoy, Lennie Briscoe and Adam Schiff.
  • Van Buren was also one of the first female main characters on the show, along with Claire Kincaid.
  • Van Buren has been a cop for over 30 years.
  • In "Competence", after she accidentally kills an unarmed mentally challenged kid during an attempted robbery, Van Buren comments that she hadn't had to fire her gun in the entire 12 years she was on the force before that point.
  • Van Buren is divorced from Donald, who owns a hardware store (L&O: "Scoundrels"). They have two sons, Ric and Stefan. It is revealed that she spent five years as a patrol officer and seven years in undercover narcotics (L&O: "Fame").
  • She enjoys the poet Langston Hughes and she is left-handed (L&O: "Slave").
  • She is a graduate of John Jay College.
  • Her father was wounded in Wasu, Korea during the Korean War in 1952. He spent time at Tulsa VA Hospital in Oklahoma (L&O: "Over Here"). Her sister lives in Queens (L&O: "Whiplash").
  • She attempted three times to have Mike Logan reassigned to her precinct after he was sent to Staten Island. All were unsuccessful, and Logan was eventually assigned to the Major Case Squad (CI: "Stress Position"; "Diamond Dogs").
  • Some of her detectives often addressed her affectionately by two shortened versions of her rank: "L.T." (commonly used by Rey Curtis, Cyrus Lupo and Kevin Bernard) and "Lieu" (commonly used by Lennie Briscoe and Ed Green).
  • In Season 20, she begins dating Frank Gibson. Their engagement is announced in the last episode.


Icon L&O.jpg Law & Order - Main Characters

Senior Detectives: Max GreeveyPhil CerretaLennie BriscoeJoe FontanaEd GreenCyrus LupoKevin Bernard

Junior Detectives: Mike LoganRey CurtisEd GreenNick FalcoNina CassadyCyrus LupoKevin BernardFrank Cosgrove

Commanding Officers: Captain Donald Cragen • Lieutenant Anita Van Buren • Lieutenant Kate Dixon


Executive Assistant District Attorneys: Benjamin StoneJack McCoyMichael CutterNolan Price

Assistant District Attorneys: Paul RobinetteClaire KincaidJamie RossAbbie CarmichaelSerena SoutherlynAlexandra BorgiaConnie RubirosaSamantha Maroun

District Attorneys: Adam SchiffNora LewinArthur BranchJack McCoy


Elizabeth OlivetAlfred Wentworth