By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
He’s had this job for nine years; like everyone here, he’s been hooked on exotics in general/Lamborghinis in particular since around the time the Countach—its road-going missile of the 1980s—came out.
“It’s a job,” Johnson says wanly as we get ready to blast down Edinger, stopping only for the railroad tracks, then reconsiders his position: getting a tan in the driver’s seat of one of the fastest cars in the world. “It’s one of those jobs,” he says, “where you get up every morning and you want to come to work.”
In a Lamborghini. (Theo Douglas)
Derrick Watkins, Gang Expert
On May 20, 2003, Derrick Watkins attended a triple-header classic-rock marathon at LA’s Staples Center featuring REO Speedwagon, Journey and Styx. After the show, Watkins carpooled back home to Orange County with several pals. As their SUV raced down the 91 freeway through Compton, Watkins got trigger-happy: he took out his police-issue handgun, aimed it out the window and started firing. Watkins was never charged with a crime.
Perhaps that’s because he was a Santa Ana gang unit officer and the only witnesses to the crime were his fellow passengers, who included two gang-unit prosecutors who worked alongside Watkins in an office at the Santa Ana Police Department. Ironically, the prosecutors had recently teamed up in an effort to send Gustavo Orejel, a young Santa Ana resident, to prison for life for the same thing Watkins did—allegedly shooting a gun in the air. The gun charges against Orejel were dropped, but he was later convicted of drug possession and sentenced to two years in jail.
After the Weekly exposed Watkins’ trigger-happy tendencies, perhaps because of his notoriety, Watkins left the Santa Ana police force. Don’t feel bad for the guy, though, because now he’s a man of letters and a traveling lecturer to boot. In May, Watkins published Gang Investigations: A Street Cop’s Guide.
The book is a how-to manual for police agencies who wish to create and run “successful anti-gang divisions” and offers “vital resources” including sample field interview cards as well as gang recognition and definition cards. Watkins is also hawking the book on numerous law-enforcement websites, including the California Gang Investigators Association. “Long before international terrorists threatened our borders, local gang members terrorized community streets,” the website states. “Today, street gangs continue to destroy neighborhoods and keep citizens held hostage in their homes.”
According to his author’s profile, Watkins “has conducted training for the California Department of Justice, the State Attorney General, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and numerous local, state, and federal agencies across California and in several neighboring states” and “currently works as a private law enforcement consultant regarding the methods and attributes of criminal street gangs across the country.” As if that isn’t enough accomplishment for a man who celebrates his love for classic rock by popping caps on the freeway, rumor also has it that he’s applying for jobs teaching his crime-fighting skills at local community colleges in Orange County. Here’s to tenure. (Nick Schou)
Food stamp recipient
Poverty isn’t just a job or maybe the lack of a job—it’s an adventure! And a disease too! It’s all things to all people—particularly poor people, who have to be poor all the time, and who spend just as many days as non-poors waking up early and commuting to offices they hate where instead of paychecks they get food stamps, which come on an ATM-style card now, and going to case meetings and walking through metal detectors and carrying around paperwork and basically putting in a good part-time hourly tally into hovering somewhere between homeless and solvent. Your tax dollars ARE work!
OC Weekly:When did you first know you wanted to be poor?
Poor Person: After wasting so many hours a week at a job when I could be drinking, I knew that social services would pave the way to my liver with gold . . . schlager. Everyone told me that being poor wasn’t for me. They seemed to think I would be better doing something with my life.
What time do you have to get up and go start being poor?
Weekly meetings with my case worker are usually around 9 a.m. Same time as Rockford Files is on, so I’m usually late. Otherwise I tend to sleep until 10.
Do you get along well with the other poor people?
Very well. I always pride myself on knowing what it’s like to walk a mile in another’s shoes with a hole in the sole.
What’s the dress code like?
Being poor never takes a casual day. You can’t hop a freight in shorts and flip-flops! A great thing about being poor is no one expects much from you, and when you do the smallest thing they are super-proud. “You mailed that letter all by yourself? Good for you!” Back to dress code, though. You can definitely overdress. It’s a tough sell going to the food stamp office in your Sunday best. Nobody is buying that. Even the county officers don’t wear suits.