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Cops Finding Leaner Pastures

May 06, 1999|JASON KANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

They called 'em gut bombs and fat pills. They were the midnight snack of choice, the breakfast of champions, a tasty treat with a hot cup of coffee that went a long way to fueling the force that patrols the mean streets of California.

A doughnut shop was one of the few rest stops open 24 hours, where a cop could remain on standby, near a squad car radio, awaiting the first cue from a dispatcher that something was not right in the world. There's the classic cliche of the cops dumping their half-empty cups and taking one last big bite from a doughnut before they speed to a crime scene.

But it seems that the era of fried dough, sprinkles and jelly fills has come to an end.

Police officers are beginning to embrace more healthful grub, consisting of the three new basic police food groups: bagels, salads and designer coffees.

Some Orange County police officers reminisce about an infamous cop-doughnut era.

"There were days when rows of black and whites sat in parking lots at Winchell's and Dunkin' Donuts, but now the joke is the cop with the latte and the bagel," said Buena Park Police Sgt. Ken Coovert.

Garden Grove Police Capt. Dave Abrecht, a health buff who jogs during his lunch hours, said that officers are more discreet about doughnut consumption.

"I think people complained, seeing three and four officers hanging out at doughnut shops," he said.

Changing times have also influenced what officers eat. Despite all the jokes about police living at doughnut shops, more cops are watching their waistlines.

"I just think the guys are much more fitness-conscious," said Fullerton Police Lt. Jeff Roop, a 27-year veteran of the department.

Fast-food restaurants like Taco Bell and El Pollo Loco, which offer meals with less fat and calories than hamburgers and Chinese food, are becoming increasingly popular.

"It used to be double cheeseburgers. Now it's these chicken salads and rice bowls," added Roop, who preferred a hot Breakfast Jack, with eggs, cheese and ham on a roll, from Jack in the Box when he patrolled the city in the 1970s and '80s.

For these law enforcement officials the days of the "Twin Peaks"-style doughnut parade are definitely over.

Roop never eats them. Neither does Sgt. Mike McDermott of the Newport Beach Police Department.

"I don't like 'em," he said. "Maybe I went into the wrong business."

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