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Valley Focus | Van Nuys

'Killer' Cat Finds Home With Police

April 14, 1998|VALERIE BURGHER

The small office of the Los Angeles Police Department's Van Nuys homicide unit looks like many others--until you notice the water and food dishes near the desk of Det. Steven Fisk.

They belong to a resident of Van Nuys homicide--a cat affectionately called Killer.

"She's been visited by police commissioners, by deputy chiefs," said Fisk, one of Killer's primary caretakers. "Jurors will see her on the ledge and come up to ask about her. We were up here one night and someone came over from the courthouse and said, 'You know you got a cat hanging out up there?' We said, 'Yeah, we know.' "

The 12-pound Killer, known as Mocha to the faint-hearted, has the run of the Van Nuys Division's second floor. She was brought in by Det. Jerry Beck of the gang unit in 1991. "I was on my way to work one day and when I looked around I saw this little cat," Beck said, cupping his hands to about the size a newborn kitten. "A soft spot happened in my heart. No one seemed to be interested in her. It looked like it had been abandoned."

He brought her back to the division, where her first assignment was to help with a pigeon problem.

"They were running in here and all over the place," Fisk recalled. "We were trying a multitude of things--humane things, of course--but we couldn't get rid of them."

In the beginning, the detectives said, the kitten was painfully shy.

"So we put her out here on the balcony, and at first the pigeons were building nests in the cat box. She'd run away from them," Fisk said. "But after a while she realized that she could make them move. After that, the pigeons went up to the third floor."

The cat/cop relationship is mutually beneficial. "It's good to have an animal around a police working environment," Beck said. "It's a real calming effect. You have a unit dealing with trauma, blood and guts every day, and yet they have time to take care of this little living thing."

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