By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Modern police departments are ending such practices because these very real-looking badges are often abused by noncops to intimidate people, or are flashed around in hopes of getting favors. Records show that many Hollywood insiders affiliated with Fox Movie Studios got School Police reserves badges but no background checks. They include former NYPD Blue producer Bill Clark and actors James Chaffee, Gordan Clapp, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Currie Graham, Eduardo Magana, Joe McKenzie, Robert McPhearson, Jacqueline Obradors, Gregory Ochotorena, Leon Reitzenstein, David Seelinger, Henry Simmons and Bonnie Summerfield.
In November 2005, Manion wrote to a Fox Studios security director, saying that LAUSD was going to confiscate the badges and gear — and Manion even put a retired TV cop, actor Kent McCord, in charge of retreiving the badges. It’s unknown whether the former Adam-12 star went knocking on doors at Fox Studios — a fake cop confiscating fake badges, like a scene from Super Troopers. But as of late 2008, internal documents show, the gear and badges were still outstanding. Noted former Deputy D.A. Korn, “How can I say it surprises me?”
The Police Foundation is no less strange. The foundation’s lawyer, Gary James, hired a public relations firm merely to speak with L.A. Weekly. Ream, of the union, claims the foundation is little more than “a bank” for the K-9 unit, motorcycle unit and other special units created by Kerstein and preserved by Manion, which yearn for spiffy police gear not covered by the job. The foundation’s spokeswoman, Cherie Kerr, hired to speak to the Weekly, says the foundation exists to raise money for needed items. “They’ll say, ‘We’ll need jackets for the motorcycle guys or new equipment for the K-9 unit.’ ”
Kerr adds: “They’re just a really neat bunch of guys.”
Weekly: “You know them?”
Kerr: “Well, I know Gary.”
Weekly: “So, you’ve never met the other guys?”
Kerr: “Ummmm ... no.”
Ream is so upset that the foundation’s board does not include any actual cops that he reported it to City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo before Delgadillo left office. “I told him personally. [But Rocky’s office] told me they wouldn’t touch it.” Disgusted, Ream says he started his own Friends of Safe Schools last year as an officer-controlled foundation.
There is one area where Kerstein and Manion, amid their many failures, showed stellar results. As of April 2007, 31 of the school district’s 300-plus patrol cars were devoted to traffic and parking enforcement. As the Evergreen audit showed, in the five-year period ending in 2006, traffic tickets increased 333 percent and parking tickets 203 percent. One probable reason for all that discipline and success: The police agency gets to keep the revenues it collects from traffic citations.
An hour after midnight on May 3, 2007, Nicole D., a 21-year-old business student and a singer in a Christian-themed rock band, was heading to her parents’ home in Orange County after a date with her new boyfriend, David Gelb. The couple had been at the Echo Park home of friends, then they’d ended their evening at Gelb’s place.
But the on-ramp onto the 10 freeway at La Brea Avenue was closed, and Nicole, unfamiliar with the area, got lost. According to her testimony at King’s trial, she called her date for directions, and Gelb told her he’d call back after he checked his computer. Nicole saw a car — with lights on top — coming in her direction, and later recounted, “I noticed he was following me after that.”
She pulled into the parking lot of a Mexican grocery store on Adams Boulevard seeking a safe place, but it was closed. Moments later the other car, a Crown Victoria that looked like an LAPD vehicle flashed its red-and-white lights and pulled her over. An officer, 5 feet 10 and athletic-looking, ordered her to “make a right into the next available driveway or street.”
He wore a dark-blue, short-sleeved police uniform and a badge engraved with “KING.” He asked the petite Nicole — 5 feet tall and 107 pounds — if she was “from around here,” and took her driver’s license. As records later showed, he never called in her information or informed his LAUSD dispatchers, because this was no official stop. King asked her if she’d had something to drink. She had: a beer with her musician friends, and, hours before that, a beer at dinner. King instructed her to face the wall of Saints Hope Church. Her cell phone started ringing — it was Gelb calling back with directions to the 10 on-ramp, but, “she didn’t pick up,” Gelb later recalled.
“Have you ever been searched before by LAPD?” King asked, falsely suggesting he was LAPD. Nicole then submitted to his bizarre “search,” in which he fondled her bare breasts with one hand while pinning her hands back with his other. He reached under Nicole’s dress and asked if he could “search” her vagina — for drugs. Her heart pounding, a cop holding her under color of authority, Nicole acquiesced. King inserted his fingers into her vagina — just as a car passed by on Adams. It was Marilyn E., a stranger with a rap sheet — petty theft, carrying narcotics and a weapon, and resisting arrest. Marilyn saw a scene that was all wrong: a young woman being held with her legs spread apart, and a cop’s hand up her skirt.
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