Editorials

Singing officers release CD to educate kids

By Karen A. Davis Associated Press Writer
Monday March 19, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO – Several crooning Newark cops were rocking in their dress blues at Parkway Heights Middle School this week to promote the release of their new CD — all in the name of traffic safety education. 

“Nothing But Trouble Driving on Crank” and “Designated Driver Blues” are only two of the 13 songs on the “Cops on Patrol” CD released this month by several San Francisco Bay area law enforcement agencies in conjunction with the Chief Operator Teen Driver program. 

“It’s received great reviews. Kids go crazy for it,” Newark police officer Will Palmini said Friday. “This bridges this huge gap. It shows that police officers can have fun. It just makes you feel really good to help out on a different level.” 

The program was created by Palmini’s father, Albany police Lt. Bill Palmini, who has done Elvis impersonations for years as part of a “singing cops” effort to teach middle and high school students about safe driving. 

Bill Palmini’s group, Elvis and the Lawmen, has traveled to 15 states and Canada, releasing three CDs along the way. The group, whose latest CD is “Traffic Safety Gold,” was awarded an honorary gold record in 1996 by the Recording Industry of America. 

The Teen Driver program was able to expand this year after receiving a three-year, $1.1 million grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the U.S. Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, according to Tanya Chalupa, program coordinator. 

Will Palmini, 28, Shawnacy Nauroth, 27, and their boss, Lt. Lance Morrison, played a large part in the making of the CD. The three form the next generation of musical cops with their “alternative” sound. 

Morrison, who plays guitar, wrote most of the songs on the disc. Will Palmini on lead vocals and Nauroth on drums and vocals round out the group. 

Will Palmini likens the Newark group’s “rock and rock-rap” sound to that of Creed. 

The “Cops On Patrol” CD is handed out free at schools and teen centers. It features songs by several law enforcement agencies, including San Jose police with “Cell Your Phone,” Hollister police with “Don’t Take My Child” and other officers from San Francisco, Albany, Oakland, Daily City and Concord. 

The officers spend much of their off-duty time practicing and visiting schools. Will Palmini thinks it’s worth the effort. 

“The kids I’ve handed the CD out to say things like ’Hey, there are the cool cops.’ That helps. We (police officers) want people to talk to us,” he said. 

The Newark group may have future plans to expand its traffic safety message to tackle other teen issues such as drug and alcohol use, teen pregnancy and smoking. Some of the songs already touch on those topics, Will Palmini said. 

For example, “Nothing But Trouble Driving on Crank” is as much about not using drugs as it is about safe driving, he said. 

The Newark group, which Will Palmini said doesn’t have an official name yet, will perform in Crescent City next week and in Los Angeles in April. 

“This is a traffic safety program, but it’s more than that,” Will Palmini said. “It’s a way to reach out to kids in the community and recruit them to be safety ambassadors. They’re learning traffic safety in a positive, upbeat way — and it’s not boring.” 

One way the program reaches out to kids is through a popular student songwriting contest, which is judged by MTV and superior court officials. Any middle or high school student can enter. The song can be any genre of music, must be no more than three-and-a-half minutes long and must focus on traffic safety.