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Hollywood Honors Police, TV Stars Who Play Them

Hollywood has honored the police officers who patrol the streets and highways, as well as the actors who play them on television. A celebration on Hollywood Boulevard featured classic police cars and fans of old police shows.

A parade of patrol cars, some dating back 50 years, assembled in front of a Hollywood landmark, Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

There was a 1951 Los Angeles cruiser and a vintage Highway Patrol car from the same era. Many of those in audience were too young to recall that time, but most had seen the television shows that made California police departments famous. The celebration was held in front of a sidewalk plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that honored Broderick Crawford, a gruff, imposing actor who starred in the 1950s series "Highway Patrol."

ANNOUNCER: "Whenever the laws of any state are broken, a duly authorized organization swings into action. It may be called the state police, state troopers, militia, the rangers, or the highway patrol. These are the stories of the men whose training, skill and courage have enforced and preserved our state law."

Gary Goltz, a health care consultant, is a fan of the old series.

"I'm the number one fan," he said.

Police shows have always been popular, but Mr. Goltz recalls that the 1950s gave us such classics as Dragnet. That long-running series starred Jack Webb as the no-nonsense detective Joe Friday. In Mr. Goltz's view, however, Highway Patrol set the standard for the genre.

"I think it's the combination of California, the highways, the old cars, and of course the star of the show, Broderick Crawford," he explained.

The late actor's son, Kelly Crawford, was moved that so many fans remember his father.

"I talked to a lot of law enforcement people today that were inspired by watching that old TV show," he said.

Shows like Highway Patrol introduced viewers to police terminology, including the numbered codes that are used by different departments. From 1968 to 1975, the actor Kent McCord starred in the series Adam 12, about Los Angeles police officers. The show's name was a coded reference to his patrol car.

"In the parlance of the Highway Patrol, it would have been '10-4' when they did a radio sign-off. In the parlance of the Los Angeles Police Department, it would have been something like 'One Adam-12, roger.' And that's what I had the pleasure of saying for about seven seasons on the show," said Mr. McCord.

Police shows have come and gone in the intervening decades, from CHiPS another series about the California Highway Patrol, to Kojak, Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue and many others.

For Rebecca Estrada, a real-life officer with the California Highway Patrol, the old shows taught a message about the importance of the law and the need to be careful on the highway.

"And that's what we still are doing. We still are talking to communities and institutions and asking the community to please watch what you're doing out on the road, always wear your seatbelt. That's what we're out there for, is to educate everyone," said Ms Estrada.

Gary Goltz says the larger-than-life characters from the old shows, played by actors like Broderick Crawford, conveyed the spirit of police work to their viewers.

"And they always remember him barking out his orders, '2150 to headquarters, set up a roadblock. I want this area set up so tight a kiddy car couldn't get through. 10-4,'" added Mr. Goltz.