Cops clown on course for serious cause


I like golf, though I don't own clubs. When I was moving here and couldn't fit all of my belongings into the back of a pickup, I took the 7-iron out of the bag and left the woods, the other irons and that damn putter on the curb. For I could hit a 7-iron.

I also like cops, though I have never written a check to the Policeman's Ball, unless part of the fine for driving 58 mph in a 35 mph zone goes to the Policeman's Ball.

And yet when a police cruiser pulls up from behind, I get more nervous than Michael Spinks before the Tyson fight. Invariably, anxiety will lead to leaving a blinker on, and I will be pulled over.

I usually get off with a warning for impersonating my grandfather. Except for the time Barry Manilow was playing on the tape deck. In that instance, I received a citation and was penalized to the fullest extent of the law.

Call me naive, but for every bad cop, for every Alonzo Harris in "Training Day," I believe there are 50 Frank Serpicos -- good cops who serve and protect for meager salaries, because serving and protecting is in their DNA.

Besides, without cops, there would be anarchy. And without cops, there wouldn't have been "CHiPs," and then what would Erik Estrada and that other guy have done to support themselves?

On Monday, golf and cops came together for a good cause at Bali Hai Golf Club, the sixth annual John and Goldie Moran Classic, benefiting the Clark County Injured Police Officers Fund.

Most cops, based on the eyewitness testimony of this mostly law-abiding citizen, smoke cigars on their day off and are lousy golfers. These facts were confirmed by Sheriff Doug Gillespie, who was puffing on a fat stogie and said he was an 11-handicap. I had to resist the urge to make a citizen's arrest. Somebody should have brought along a roll of crime scene tape to mark off the 10th fairway.

If there were two things I learned from watching cops play golf, it's that serving and protecting apparently does not allow proper time for working on one's short game, and that when it comes to assisting a fallen comrade, there isn't much these men and women in blue -- or khaki, in the case of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police force -- won't do.

The golf outing is a principal fundraiser for the IPOF, which assists with expenses not covered by insurance when an officer is injured or killed in the line of duty.

The IPOF began in 1982, when LVMPD motor officer James MacLaren was shot in the head during a traffic stop. MacLaren survived but was forced to retire, prompting then Sheriff John Moran and his wife, Goldie, to hold a "Night Out With the Stars" that featured Wayne Newton and probably Rich Little.

I was introduced to criminal defense attorney John Moran Jr., golf outing benefactor Brad Friedmutter and his wife, Kimberly, and a who's who of local law enforcement that included Gillespie, Maj. Kevin Tice of the Nevada Highway Patrol and Metro Police Sgt. Richard Strader. Each shared a story about a friend or fellow officer injured or killed in the line of duty except the Friedmutters, who were on the deep pockets committee.

They mentioned Henry Prendes, who in 2006 become the first Metro officer in 18 years to be shot and killed in the line of duty. And the deadly year of 2009, when Jamie Manor was killed in a traffic collision en route to a domestic dispute and Millie Beitel was killed in a single-car crash and Daniel Leach was killed in a traffic accident near Searchlight and Trevor Nettleton was killed in his own garage, after exchanging gunfire with thugs in a botched robbery attempt.

Most people tend to remember police officers killed in the line of duty and botched robbery attempts in their own homes. People aren't as likely to remember cops killed or seriously injured in traffic accidents.

This is why other cops take a day off from serving and protecting to smoke cigars and whack golf balls into sand traps, water hazards and heavy rough.

They know there's a fellow cop not able to play golf on a beautiful Monday morning who may need a hand.

They also know it could have been them.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.

 

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