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West Ventura County Focus

OJAI : Cycling Deputy Puts Career on New Path

January 24, 1995|JAN STEVENS

Ojai resident Sean Collinsworth has found a successful career vehicle in his love of bicycling.

Collinsworth started the Los Angeles County sheriff's bike patrol in West Hollywood in 1987.

Since then, the 39-year-old deputy has trained bike cops from New York City to Oxnard. He has advised producers on a pilot for a TV series based on his own experiences on bike patrol. Collinsworth cycles 65 hours a week in all kinds of weather and road conditions--for fun and duty.

If this wasn't grueling enough, he recently started his own business. Ojai-based Voir Dire furnishes lawyers with expert courtroom witnesses from military and police backgrounds.

In some ways, it's a spinoff from his bike patrol activities, because he often serves as an expert witness in cases involving--you guessed it--bike accidents.

The deputy has also used photos from such cases to train officers on how important it is to wear helmets and treat bicycles like vehicles.

Collinsworth contends that a photo of a dead bicyclist's gruesome injuries delivers the message far more powerfully than a lecture.

Besides urging helmets, he teaches bike officers how to fall.

Falling is inevitable so officers must be taught how to do it correctly, he said.

Collinsworth said he believes bike patrol is a highly effective law enforcement tool, even with risks such as falling or being run over, because bike officers can see, hear and smell more than officers in cars.

Bike units are especially effective when it's dark because there's an element of surprise. Collinsworth noted that officers don't have to flash lights and sound sirens when they want to stop a suspect who is driving, they just ride up and knock on the driver's side window.

"They call us the stealth police," he said.

While Collinsworth said he likes being inconspicuous on the streets of West Hollywood, that could change soon. He boasts that he's collected enough strange and twisted tales from working three days a week on bike patrol for a TV series.

And Hollywood seems to be listening. He's currently acting as a technical adviser to Santa Monica's Langley Productions, producers of "Cops."

A representative of the production company confirmed that it's currently peddling a pilot for a TV series based on Collinsworth's adventures.

The pilot, tentatively titled "Plainwraps," features a fictional bike patrol officer named Sean Collins.

Collinsworth previously worked with the production company in several episodes of "Cops" and is clearly eager to be back in the spotlight. If it doesn't pan out, at least he's added an exotic handle to his resume.

"My title is 'executive creative consultant,' " he said. "I love Hollywood."

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