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He's a One-Man Force in Police Reserve Unit : Law enforcement: Peter R. Repovich of the Hollywood Division has recruited the LAPD's largest squad of volunteer officers.

July 29, 1993|DIANA S. KIM | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

MONTROSE — If it weren't for Officer Peter R. Repovich, the pranksters in the Los Angeles Police Department's Hollywood Division would be an unhappy bunch.

If this were elementary school, in fact, Repovich would clearly be a favorite with his classmates' parents and the butt of playground teasing for his "goody-goody" ways.

At one point, his fellow cops sent through bogus papers to make him believe he had been transferred to one of the LAPD's most hazardous divisions. It didn't help Repovich's reputation that he became ill upon hearing the news.

Even as the Montrose resident was being interviewed by a reporter, other cops dropped by to tease him about how they would reveal his true nature to the world one day.

"His personality is conducive to the harassment," said Sgt. Bryan Galbraith, Repovich's supervisor. "He likes to harass people and gets back 10 times in return."

Even after he recently won his division's "Employee of the Quarter" award for his work at building up the reserve units, Repovich remains the butt of cop humor.

His framed photo on the wall by the front desk is the target of daily graffiti. One day a scrawled moustache appeared on his upper lip; the next day Marilyn Monroe makeup and a beauty mark were added to his mug.

And even Galbraith, who nominated Repovich for the award, joins in the teasing.

"It was a weak moment, but I did it," Galbraith said of the nomination.

Repovich takes it all in fun, although he complains, "See what I have to put up with?" as he views his defaced portrait.

Dubbed the "resident yuppie," Repovich loves his $1,000 suits, western boots that cost even more, $100 ties and his shiny BMW, which he said he can afford because of real estate investments.

"Policemen like their toys but Peter gloats in them and makes it obvious," Galbraith said. He added that Repovich's sense of humor leans toward sarcasm and that "his attitude is that he's too good for manual labor."

But in the same breath, Galbraith credits Repovich for nurturing the largest reserve unit in the LAPD--80 volunteers--through the sheer force of upbeat leadership. After four years on the job, Repovich has built it up from a low point of 20 reserve officers, Galbraith said.

Repovich, whose numerous duties include the job of community liaison, enjoys the desk job that other officers shun. They call it "counting paper clips," Galbraith said.

"He's great at schmoozing. He's good at knocking on the door of presidents of companies and asking them for something," Galbraith said. "He does an outstanding job in the community and makes a lot of friends."

Repovich's gregarious personality would also serve him well in attaining his ultimate ambition: to be a career politician. He says he has learned the inner workings of a bureaucracy as an officer and would love to work for newly installed Mayor Richard Riordan; he wants to help the mayor turn Los Angeles into a more user-friendly city.

Daily life in L.A. is greatly handicapped by micro-management, he says. As an example, he cites the city's parking regulations.

"You might get money from parking meters and tickets," he says. "But every other corner is red (meaning parking is prohibited). It's not good for the businesses and from a humanistic view, it's discouraging people from shopping and enjoying L.A. . . . I could give a lot of insights to Riordan in things relating to the bureaucratic mess."

The youngest of three children, Repovich, 36, grew up in La Canada Flintridge. Some of his distant relatives were policemen, and the boy admired their shiny badges and crisp uniforms. He graduated from USC in 1981 and was a reservist with the U.S. Marine Corps before joining the police force.

After serving more than 10 years as an officer and receiving several commendations, Repovich said he most enjoys working with the reserve unit because the civic-minded citizens bring with them a fresh perspective and idealism to their jobs.

The volunteers go through the Police Academy for nine months and receive the same training as career officers. They perform almost the same duties as real officers. The striking difference is their salary--$15 a month. Reserve officers literally save the city "millions of dollars," said Capt. John Higgins, commanding officer of the Hollywood Division.

"There are a lot of volunteer organizations in the city but very few so vital to the city," Higgins said. "I don't know of any other group that makes the tremendous commitment they do and put their lives on the line."

Higgins partly credits the success of his division's reserve unit to Repovich's open appreciation for the work they do. And while Repovich must endure taunts at his office, he wins nothing but praise from his reserve troops.

Repovich calls the volunteers the "happiest unit" in the department. Because of their reserve status, the volunteers are spared the inner politics, the low morale due to budget problems and the infamy of the police beating of motorist Rodney G. King, Repovich said.

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