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You know a trend is over when the government shows up. So once the LAPD's flacks hit the blogosphere, it became startling clear that the blogging revolution is officially passe.

Los Angeles' finest rolled out their blog earlier this month as part of a $238,000 redesign of the department Web site. (Apparently the LAPD brass doesn't know about the free Blogspot. Oh, well. It's only taxpayer money.) Through the blog, the department is reaching out to the people it once oppressed with ``real-time, unfiltered information'' from the men and women doing the hard work of keeping the city safe-ish.

Wow. I'm sold.

I want to believe The Man in Blue is cool and hip. I want to imagine that when The Man is not meting out firm but fair justice, he is sipping lattes and updating his blog with bits of personal wisdom gleaned on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Perhaps, The Man may add a snippet of cautionary haiku crafted while sweating out the uber-evildoer who had violated parole: ``Men with shiny guns; Mountains of evil white powder; Pop. Pop. All fall down.''

That would be an interesting blog. Too bad doesn't come close. Instead of dispatches from the dangerous dark alleys, we get press releases on a duo of scamming old ladies and sobriety checkpoints. Instead of candid or thoughtful insights by L.A.'s chief crimefighter William Bratton (``On Page Six in the New York Post again today. How did they find me in Italy LOL!''), we get crass LAPD self-promotion. If this is the unfiltered information from LAPD, please, oh please, give me the filtered version.

You've gotta give the department points for at least trying to reach out to the public in new ways. But using a new technological gizmo or program isn't going to reverse years of secrecy and conflict with the community. Besides, having the stodgy LAPD blog is a little like having your dad suddenly dye his salt-and-pepper hair, buy some Sketchers and flirt with girls your own age. Eww.

Nor does anyone really want to hear the daily log of a life on the street. In between the few heart-pounding moments depicted with regularity on TV cop dramas are long, dull stretches of routine calls, paperwork and snack breaks. (``Lunch stop No. 1 at Wendy's for 99-cent menu. Domestic violence call. No one at scene. Stopped at Starbucks for a latte. Took a suspicious person call. No one at scene. Got something in my eye. Maybe a bug. Stopped at McDonald's for an eye flush and McFlurry. Followed a suspiciously slow moving vehicle. Just a car full of lost nuns.'')

The site does allow for comments, which I guess does afford some community dialogue. But it's hard to tell if many of the comments are from real live non-cop people or whether the LAPD followed the lead of a certain Los Angeles Times business columnist and made up personalities to praise itself.

For example, ``Former officer formby'' writes of a recent in-house investigation: ``Score another point for the good guys down at IA. a hero's work is never down (sic).''

And ``Great coverage'' wrote: ``It is great to finally see some positive information about LAPD Officers. It is too bad the media does not chose to cover the great things LAPD Officers are doing every day.'' In my experience, the only people to complain about the media not giving good press to the cops are the cops themselves.

LAPD isn't the first Los Angeles bureaucracy to hit the blog waves. Ed Boks has had a blog since he came to town more than six months ago to head the troubled Animal Services Department. Considering how avidly the ``animal advocacy community'' follows the doings in that department, and how it has run out a series of general managers in recent years, this blog makes some sense.

It'll be only a matter of time before Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa kicks off a daily blog (10 a.m. -- photo op with kids in South L.A. 11 a.m. -- photo op with president of Zimbabwe. Noon -- photo op with ...'')

We can't let it come to this. Help our government help itself by just saying no to bureaucrat blogs.
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Title Annotation:Viewpoint
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 28, 2006
Previous Article:PUBLIC FORUM.

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