Just hours after after the beleaguered San Francisco Police Department began to come to terms with the federal indictments handed down to five of their active officers, a different side, more thespian side of the department was put on display.
In what the department says is an officer training video "released to the public with the approval of the Police Commission," apparently real SFPD officers join forces with "civilian actors" for two segments that would not be out of place in a Law & Order: San Francisco spinoff.
Standing in sharp contrast to the last time we saw SFPD officers acting in a video, these sketches attempt to illustrate why officers need to call in interpreters when responding to incidents involving people who have trouble speaking English.
"We got called out here because there was a little bit of a problem, uh, problema?" one apparently monolingual officer asks a Spanish-speaking woman who might have just harmed her husband. I won't spoil it for you, but there's a thrilling reveal once SFPD's language line is called. All is not what it seems!
In the second segment, civilian actor Mel Badiola turns in a virtuoso performance as a weasel of a son (and Wells Fargo employee!) whose mom has called the cops during a dispute over stolen money. After officer J. Funk (best name ever) calls in a Cantonese-speaking interpreter, they get the full story on the son's misdeeds. Dun-dun!
Needless to say, neither domestic violence nor elder abuse are humorous topics, and this video handles the situations with a sensitivity and political correctness that our actor/officers could have used in 2005. But it's also fascinating viewing, and might be worth at least a couple of your rainy Friday minutes.