Bosch picked up the philosophy in the early-1980s from one of his first partners, detective Ray Vaughn, who told Bosch that of all of his investigations, "every one of them counted." When asked to explain his personal mission in April of 1994, Bosch told psychologist Carmen Hinojos: "Everybody counts or nobody counts. That's it. It means I bust my ass to make a case whether it's a prostitute or the mayor's wife. That's my rule."
After the murder of reviled civil rights attorney Howard Elias, Bosch told his wife at the time, Eleanor Wish, that "every case counts." After the murder of Edward Gunn, retired FBI profiler Terry McCaleb told Sheriff Jaye Winston that he didn't think that Bosch was "the kind who ever counts one case, one person more important than another."
While investigating McCaleb's death as a private investigator, having retired from the force, Bosch was reminded of his credo by his former partner Kizmin Rider, who called the phrase "words to live by" as she attempted to convince Bosch to return to the Department.
After Bosch relented and returned to the LAPD's Open-Unsolved Unit, where he was again partnered with Rider, she reminded him of his philosophy again while reinvestigating the 1988 murder of Rebecca Verloren, elaborating that they had to "take it where it goes and let the chips fall."
After the death of George Irving in October of 2011, Bosch was reminded of his philosophy by City Councilman Irvin Irving, though he was also certain that he had never spoken the phrase to Irving. He later confirmed that Irving had heard the phrase from Rider, who had told him that Bosch would put aside his contentious history with the former Deputy Chief if assigned to the case because, to the detective, "everybody counts or nobody counts."
In 2014, following the death of Orlando Merced, Bosch was reminded of his credo by Police Chief Gregory Malins, who used the phrase in front of former mayor Armando Zeyas. The politician promptly praised the philosophy, and used it as the campaign slogan for his 2016 run for the office of Governor.