All Units, We've Got Cops Dancing at the Academy
By ERIKA KINETZ
LOS ANGELES - In six years with the Los Angeles Police Department, Officer Mike Fernandez has seen many things. Modern dance, not surprisingly, is not among them. "I've seen guys' arms blown off with AK-47's," he said. "I've seen kids molested to where they can't walk."
He and his partner, Officer Kathy McAnany, were cruising past the dirty hotels with half-lighted neon signs at the heart of downtown here. They watched as sprightly men in wheelchairs (who were probably sitting on weapons or drugs, Officer McAnany said) and women with no front teeth watched them.
"I did see the original cast of 'A Chorus Line' a million years ago," Officer McAnany said.
Souls audacious enough to consider dance and the Los Angeles Police Department in the same breath are most likely to level a single, rough judgment: incompatible.
But Heidi Duckler, the artistic director of Collage Dance Theater, a multidisciplinary performance group based here, thought differently. Her newest work, "C'opera," is a piece for seven dancers, one singer, one actor, three musicians and a number of special guests from the Los Angeles Police Department. Performances run from Thursday through Feb. 19 at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park, about 10 minutes from downtown.
The article is an amusing look at the intersection or, more properly, the almost complete lack of an intersection between two contrasting cultures. But the more interesting part of the article is the part that talks about what it is like to be a police officer down here on the Nickel...
Officer Fernandez said he would see "C'opera," schedule permitting. Officer McAnany said she would be out of town. Dance was really the last thing on her mind. She had been up since 4 ahoy and had a number of pressing issues to consider, first among them finding Lionel Johnson, 54, a place to sleep.
Mr. Johnson had just been ejected from the hotel where he had lived for eight years, and the sum of his earthly possessions spilled forth from five large garbage bags at his feet. "If we leave that guy on the street, he will get killed," said Officer McAnany, who managed to negotiate a bed for him before sundown.
The one overtly artistic moment of her day came at dinner. "I want to 'Be an Artist,' " she said, reading from a pizza menu. "I'll make my own pizza: mushrooms, olives, garlic, anchovies, pepperoni. And a Sprite."
The last time I saw Kathy was a little before 3 AM one morning a few days ago as I was dropped off the latest flier of a missing woman around Skid Row. Kathy had just signed off after an 18 hour shift and she was heading home and I was the very last person on this planet she wanted to see. But she still did look at the picture and said she had not seen her.
The point is that the above paragraph from the New York Times tells the truth what is is like to be a police officer or any other kind of worker down here on Skid Row. Half your job is doing your job you are paid to do - the other half is being a social worker.
And few do both those jobs better than the LAPD officers and the BID security forces whose job it is to keep the peace on the streets of Skid Row.
LAOBSERVED also observed this article...