Sgt. Daniel Gonzalez has broken up bar fights, chased armed gangbangers and even apprehended a blood-soaked murderer after a car chase.
But nothing in his 22 years with the Los Angeles Police Department could have prepared him for his latest responsibility: art critic.
Since January, the clean-cut cop has patrolled the beachside neighborhood of Venice's famous boardwalk, passing judgment on painted porcelain skulls, henna tattoos and scrap-metal Star Wars sculptures offered for sale. On a recent Thursday, he told a dread-locked artist dabbling in a variety of media that he should "get more into the wood stuff, less into the hats."
"Now this is what people are looking for," Sgt. Gonzalez told another artist, offering what he called "positive reinforcement" for selling on-the-spot spray paintings. "Do you really take Visa? That is awesome."
Sgt. Gonzalez's new duties are part of one of the LAPD's more unusual mandates: keeping Venice weird.
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