If there's any group in need of a comprehensive image revamp, it's the Los Angeles Police Department.
The LAPD has not erased the twin stains of the Rodney King beating and its bungling of the OJ Simpson murder case, both of which cast its officers as thugs and racists. Still, the department may have found an unwitting PR ally in the form of retired Los Angeles officer Jim Starr, the so-called Singing Cop.
Starr, a retired technical reserve officer in the LAPD's training division, has sung about life on the rough LA streets since the '70s, according to online police webzine APBNews.com. And although he officially hung up his badge in 1996, Starr still performs on behalf of the unit, accompanied by actress Suzan Hughes, who portrays an LAPD officer.
Starr has crooned songs about safety, drugs, gangs, respect, and nutrition for thousands of LA schoolchildren. After hearing about Starr's antics, a light bulb went off in former Police Chief Ed Davis' head, and he recruited Starr to 'spread cheer.' While still an active member of the force, Starr received Davis' approval to spend half his time on the beat and the other half fostering community relations as the Singing Cop.
Starr's goodwill mission shows no sign of ending, either. He is presently developing a children's TV show for PBS in which he plays a safety officer.
No word on when the official soundtrack will hit stores.