Darryl Strawberry, move over. The baseball card craze has competition from other people who carry big sticks. Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in Santa Clarita on Friday began handing out trading card photos of themselves to local youngsters.
The station's deputies, along with civilian employees and citizen volunteers, will now have their faces, mini-autobiographies and words of wisdom featured on the 138 cards, which officials hope will be coveted collector's items among the elementary school set.
"What we're trying to do is open up a dialogue," said Capt. Robert Spierer, who came up with the idea after seeing a similar card carried by a Los Angeles police officer, who had printed it up on his own.
"If we can get the kids when they're younger to realize we're not their enemies . . . then maybe as they grow up they'll be more inclined to take some of the advice we give them," said Spierer.
Sheriff's Department brass approved the idea in June and the Santa Clarita City Council--which contracts with the Sheriff's Department to serve as its local police force--agreed to kick in half the $13,000 cost to print 288,000 cards.
The station's 151 deputies and 31 civilian employees were given the chance to pose for pictures, surrounded by the props of their choice, and write up to 40 words. Many simply posed next to patrol cars and listed their resumes or hobbies. But others got creative, tongues firmly in cheek.
"I have to come home at night and soak my feet from stomping out crime all day," wrote jailer Steve Standley, who posed next to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle poster.
Lt. Marv Dixon, or "Marvman," as he called himself, posed next to two Bart Simpson posters and described himself as "Avenger of justice, overachiever and proud of it."
Another deputy struck a "go ahead, make my day pose" next to a cardboard cutout of Clint Eastwood. Sgt. Howard Fairchild posed on the hood of a patrol car playing a Fender Stratocaster guitar.
Some ideas were jettisoned. A photo of a group of bare-chested deputies was rejected. The irreverent sense of humor typical of peace officers was kept in check with a reminder that Sheriff Sherman Block would be given a full set of the cards, said Spierer.
Some deputies used the cards to urge kids to avoid drugs or gangs and obey their parents.
Officials envision children waving down patrol cars on city streets, collecting until they have a complete set.
The cards were snatched up Friday by children outside Old Orchard Elementary school.
Charlene Andersson took a card for her 5-year-old son. "My son would just love those," she said. "He likes policemen. This could be the latest rage, instead of Ninja Turtles."