Saturday, November 4, 2017

Epic Police Partnership Ends

This is really cool.

At LAT, "After nearly 30 years patrolling together, these two LAPD officers end an epic partnership":
The cops have patrolled together for more than 28 years, one behind the wheel, the other riding shotgun, scanning the streets of northeast Los Angeles for signs of trouble.

Both are bald with mustaches, as set in their ways as a married couple. Duarte, the smoother talker, is first to approach a suspect or defuse a tense situation. Marinelli, whose "aw shucks" demeanor masks a sly wit, hangs back to stand guard.

They are friendly or fearsome, depending on what they think you deserve. Homeless people and street vendors get a pass. Car thieves do not. Their adversaries call them Los Dobermans, the Doublemint Twins, Heckle and Jeckle.

In the Los Angeles Police Department, partners typically last a year or two in the same car. Sometimes, working styles clash. More often, someone gets transferred or promoted. A decade together is long, three unheard of.

Patrolling in Cypress Park on a late afternoon last fall, they recall the tragedy and mayhem they have seen on these streets. They point to the alley where Marinelli fatally shot an armed man in 1993. Around the corner on Bank Street two years later, a 3-year-old girl was killed by gang members.

This is one of the last days Harold Marinelli and J.C. Duarte will work together. Marinelli is leaving for knee surgery, then retirement.

"I'm always right, and he's always wrong," Marinelli says.

"I always let him think he's right — just like my wife," Duarte responds.

In June 1988, when the two young police officers climbed into a black-and-white for the first time, their chemistry was immediate. They were the same kind of cop, itching for a caper, obsessed with catching car thieves. No need for promotions or to check out other stations. All they wanted was to work Northeast Division together.

Supervisors tried to break them up. They resisted. Once, they joined a vice squad to avoid being paired with novice cops. When they returned to patrol, they took a demotion, losing two stripes and 5% of their pay to stay together.

Spending all day, every day cooped up in a car with the wrong person can be hellish. One officer wants to run after a suspect while the other insists on summoning reinforcements. One may power through a whole shift without a break, while the other gets cranky without his customary burger stop. In a dangerous situation, partners move in an improvised choreography, wordlessly reading each other's intentions.

"If you don't gel, you can hardly wait for that day to get done," says Jack Richter, a sergeant in media relations, whose longest pairing lasted two years.

Like a good marriage, a good police partnership can thrive off differences. Duarte, 53, speaks Spanish and is better at writing reports. Marinelli, 58, is the quiet one who notices the detail others miss — the one that leads to the bad guy.

Duarte is a meticulous record-keeper, jotting down every hour of overtime the partners have worked. A black binder holds mug shots of every person they have arrested — page after page of scowling photographs, a rogues' gallery of northeast Los Angeles.

There was the suspected robber who led them on a car chase in 1998; the woman they arrested almost a dozen times for drug offenses in the early 2000s before she turned her life around; the boxer known as "Eddie the Animal," whose freedom ended when the partners spotted him in Highland Park on Jan. 3, 2006, and arrested him on a burglary and robbery warrant.

At the station, they are the Baldies, who pepper roll calls with jokes and are admired for their old-fashioned "obs skills" — the ability to size up a situation at a glance.

A few years ago, the partners were driving around Cypress Park, looking to pick up some overtime, when they spotted a man molesting his niece in a parked car. They later took the girl to Disneyland...