In the course of my job at E! News, when I write the letters LAPD it's usually connected to celebs behaving badly: DUIs, assaults, probation violations, shoplifting. You name the celebrity misbehavior, and I have probably reported how the Los Angeles Police Department is involved with it.
But the other night I was exposed to a side of the LAPD that's all about the good guys.
I hosted a gala benefit for the LAPD's Hollenbeck Police Activities League (PAL) inside a historic former cathedral called Vibiana in downtown L.A. The Hollenback PAL runs a variety of programs in East L.A. for youth that quite literally keep them off the streets.
The PAL, located in the heart of the notoriously gang-infested neighborhood of Boyle Heights, serves over 1,000 kids every year. In a part of the city where a teen simply graduating high school is an achievement, an impressive 85 percent of PAL participants go on to college. I'm told that as many as one in five teens in this neighborhood just a few miles from the Hollywood sign will join a gang. Not might join a gang. Rather, will join one.
At the gala, which honored community leaders who have made a difference to PAL, LAPD officer and PAL executive director Glenda Brooks received an award for her inspiring efforts to keep kids from becoming just another gang statistic.
There were also many high-profile people attending—actor Edward James Olmos, the cast of Southland, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, several E! News staff, L.A. Laker Ron Artest (who was seated with AEG President Tim Leiweke), not to mention Hollywood heavyweights Jeffrey Katzenberg, Evelyn Lasiter and Haim Saban.
But I was most touched by the night's true stars: The people behind the scenes helping young Angelenos have a shot at a better life. One such volunteer, accomplished filmmaker Detra Wilson, has dedicated herself to coproducing a documentary series with the children focused on current events.
One video is called "Happy Planet" and features a group of East L.A. kids who have set out to improve their environment with their own localized action.
Not exactly Jersey Shore, each of these productions are inspiring, profound grassroots miracles teeming with heart.
Perhaps the PAL program that most resonated with me, however, is the so-called "Good News Kids" program that the talented Wilson also operates, in which she helps the kids write and produce newscasts with the only rule being that the focus of their stories be on "good news."
Now that is some good news relating to the LAPD (which, by the way, has nothing to do with celebrities) that I am happy to report!