The Los Angeles Police Department honored my husband last night.
Yes, the Commanding Officer, Police officers, Police Cadets, and the children in the Police Activities League (PAL), all gathered for Roll Call to honor my husband’s recent creative contributions.
We drove to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Newton Division Police Station in South Los Angeles. It's called “Shootin’ Newton” because of the large number of shootings that have occurred regularly in the area. Was I a little apprehensive? Yes! I’d seen the movie, “End of Watch” which was filmed in the station and in the Newton area and it terrified me. I didn’t want my husband to volunteer there any more! The Captain casually said that the violent scenes were exaggerated. Exaggerated? Here's a shot of the real thing!
Let me go back. My husband is retired, although you’d never know it from all of the projects that he’s involved in. A few years ago, he decided he wanted to “give back” and discovered there was a need for his advertising and film expertise in the Police Department.
Bob began at Police Headquarters downtown, Parker Center. He created, produced and directed public service campaigns to help make people aware of the dangers of firing weapons into the air during the New Year holidays, as well as fireworks safety. He directed George Lopez, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher in TV and radio spots.
The Department was so grateful for his help that Chief William Bratton personally presented him with a wonderful commendation.
Working on these and other campaigns, he developed a friendship with then Lieutenant Jorge Rodriguez. My husband and Jorge enjoyed working together, especially when they discovered that they both had served in the Marine Corps. Semper Fi! When Jorge was promoted to Captain and Commanding Officer of the Newton Division, he asked my husband to help them in raising funds for the children’s program, (PAL) at the station.
As we drove up to the gates, a group of young Police Cadets marched in formation, approaching us on the sidewalk. I had a big grin on my face while watching them: hup, two, three, four, hup, two, three, four. When the gates opened and we drove inside and saw another group of young cadets on one side of the courtyard doing pushups. We then walked into the Roll Call room filled with elementary PAL school kids asking questions respectfully about the law and the Captain answering them with equal respect.
In just over a year, the Captain has transformed the station into an energetic, enthusiastic and almost charming place. My impression was that it’s rather like San Gimignano in Tuscany, a walled city, but without the towers, bricks, flags , charm or wine stores. Hmmm? Well, maybe not.
I'm very impressed with Captain Jorge. He admires President Lincoln enormously and reads everything he can get his hands on about him. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and a Master of Arts in Organization Leadership. He’s fascinated by leadership concepts and their execution. It shows in the attitude and decorum of those he supervises and the whole atmosphere of the station. But, he still can’t get other officers to stop parking in his reserved spot when they think he’s not there.
Back to my husband. The Police have a group, PAL. It’s the Police Activities League, an after school program for elementary school children in the area. They're at the station involved in activities from 3:30 in the afternoon until nearly 8:30 at night.They are taught art, reading, Jiu Jitsu, boxing, fitness, gardening, etc. The officers also take the kids on outings. Many have never seen sand, the ocean or the mountains. These are eye opening experiences for the children.They have been taken to Santa Monica for rides at the Pier, sailing on ships, as well as hiking in the mountains, attending children's stage shows and athletic events. The Police truly try to broaden their world. So, PAL needs money for their activities. The officers have been using their own money to fund all of this. Bob offered to help funding efforts by creating a video that shows the value of PAL. The DVD will be part of a marketing effort in approaching individuals. groups and corporations.
Making even a short video is not easy, especially when no one is getting paid. It took months of writing, photographing, editing to get it just right. But it was a project that everyone who was involved loved, because of the kids. Bob felt he couldn't have done it without his wonderful co-creators, Stu Berg, Lee Thomas and Andrew Kesler.
This police stuff is fascinating to me. Do you think it’s the uniforms? Or is it a world I know nothing about, that makes it so exciting to me? I was really stoked when I saw real undercover gang officers getting into their unmarked cars. Very scary looking, trust me. Saw officers carrying large shot guns in their arms going out to their "black and whites." Whoa! They also lugged these huge black bags called “war bags.” Inside there are helmets, body armor, batons, flares, anything they need for the job.
Here I am with my arms around the officers. You know what? These officers feel like steel girders. They are solid! I’m talking SOLID! Yet, these same tough officers are gentle when working with the kids from PAL.
After we had dinner with the captain, he offered me the chance to be driven around the Newton area with a sergeant in a "black and white" during a normal patrol shift. I signed up and I'm ready to go. Maybe...