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When filmmakers want the truth in police thrillers, they Call The Cops; but Randy Walker’s advisory service was not too happy about the idea of two officers going bad in S.W.A.T., as ex- S.W.A.T Walker tells Andrew L. Urban, claiming that LAPD is the cleanest force around.

A veteran of LAPD and its specialist S.W.A.T. team, Randy Walker, “agonised” over the two police characters in the movie, S.W.A.T., who betray their team - and had several discussions with director Clark Johnson about it. “I would have liked to see a different type of baddie,” he says wistfully from his home office at Call The Cops in Los Angeles. “But we have to remember, it’s only a movie…”

Walker, who started the movie advisory service, Call The Cops, back in 1988 while still an active S.W.A.T. officer, is now 55 and retired from the LAPD. He works with his partners as technical adviser to the movie industry, and was the best, most obvious choice to help the filmmakers bring veracity to S.W.A.T., the movie version of the tv series. He speaks enthusiastically about the Los Angeles police force from which the S.W.A.T. teams are drawn. (SWAT = Special Weapons And Tactics)

You may be surprised to learn that “It’s the most corruption-free force in the world. In my 30 years with the LAPD, I can think of only about six or eight officers who went bad – and every one of them was investigated and prosecuted by the LAPD.” But he means it. And he’s proud of that. “It was an honour for me to be a part of the LAPD team, and even more of an hour to work with S.W.A.T.”

Well, perhaps the two bad eggs depicted in S.W.A.T. are representative of those few baddies. Because in Walker’s experience (and it’s extensive) “police officers, every day, all over Los Angeles, all over America and all over the world, do heroic work. But it’s not really recognised.” 

Walker’s favourite film is Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry. “He’s a heroic guy . . .and that film is the best depiction of a cop on the trail of a bad guy. But he’s not portrayed as a hero . . .” 

"an interesting revelation"

It’s an interesting revelation. For one thing, Dirt Harry has become somewhat politically incorrect in the squeaky clean 90s and beyond. For another, the AJB (Average Joe Blow) has always assumed that Clint Eastwood’s characters are all far fetched and divorced from the real thing. In that light, Walker’s admiration for the film – from his vantage point as a serving policeman – is extraordinary. It reveals how little we know about the working of law enforcement, after 50 years of films and television showing us the innards of it all. 

There is a whole PhD in this, but Walker is a pragmatic man – with a schedule. He runs a business that consults on at leats two movies every year. If this sounds like light duty, bear in mind Walker and his partners get involved at pre-production stage and stay on well into post – and as this interview shows, into the publicity routine as well. Shooting on S.W.A.T. started a year ago and finished in February; we’re talking about it in September.

Curiosity makes me ask what Walker thinks of police thriller movies. “The one thing I don’t like,” he says, “is giving gangs more credibility than they deserve. In the gang world, they are disorganised and chaotic…” The way he talks I get the impression he doesn’t think much of their intelligence. “You draw up alongside at the traffic lights, and you size them up. I have to laugh when they say, ‘Hey officer, what make you think I’m a gang member?’ It’s so obvious!” 

But hearteningly, Randy Walker, with 30 years police experience, has not been disillusioned about humanity. “The job makes you realise how much crime there is in the world – but still, the good people far outnumber the bad.” And the stupid ….

Published November 27, 2003

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