Charles Haid of television's "Hill Street Blues" faces hypothetical threatening situations on the popular program, but last Saturday he met and honored local police officers who really put their lives on the line.
Haid appeared, to the delight of hundreds of "Hill Street Blues" fans, at Greenbelt's Beltway Plaza to promote a National Police Week program in which local, Prince George's County, state and federal law enforcement agencies participated.
"The thing to remember in the context of why we are all here today is that 'Hill Street Blues' is trying to give an honest portrayal of a very important job," said Haid, who plays Andrew Renko on the television series.
Greenbelt Police Chief William Lane presented Haid with a badge making him an honorary city police officer and citizen. Haid received a plaque from Cpl. Ken Lucas of the Takoma Park Police Department "in grateful appreciation of his portrayal of police officers as real people."
After shaking hands and signing autographs, Haid said he came to Greenbelt because " I want to help with and promote National Police Week." He said he feels obliged to make such unpaid public appearances to reciprocate some of the rewards he has received as an actor. "You don't just take from people," he said.
Haid said there must be something in him akin to the burly street cop character of Renko "that comes leaping out of me" when he is in front of an audience.
Renko's attitude toward the job is one that at least one officer in every police department has, Haid explained. "He would like to go through the entire day without getting out of his patrol car, and if he has to, God help the person who gets him out."
Haid drew laughs from the crowd as he told how "a great big old Southern cop" pulled him over one night as he sped along a Georgia highway. The officer insisted Haid pay the fine in cash, but Haid did not have enough money.
Haid said the officer made him sit in the patrol car until he convinced him that he would mail the money. His pleas "Haven't you ever seen 'Hill Street Blues?' " were to no avail.
But, Haid said, as the officer finally agreed to let him go, the officer said "you do a pretty good job on that show" and handed him the ticket.