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Franz tees off for charity

Sat., Aug. 26, 2006

The dark-colored SUVs came to a stop and members of the SWAT team jumped out, carrying guns and dressed head to toe in camouflage.

It was almost like a scene out of “NYPD Blue.”

OK that’s a stretch.

The scene that played out Friday at the Avondale Golf Club in Hayden Lake was nothing like a scene out of “NYPD Blue,” save that Dennis Franz, who portrayed grizzly Detective Andy Sipowicz on the television show, was there.

Franz, who recently moved to Coeur d’Alene, was the celebrity guest at a golf fundraiser for the newly formed Kootenai County Police & Fire Memorial Foundation.

The foundation raised more than $20,000 through the tournament, which will be used to help injured police and firefighters or families of those killed in the line of duty.

“I am a tremendous supporter of law enforcement, wherever I go,” Franz said. “I just feel a great debt of gratitude.”

The 140 golfers included 10 local officers and firefighters. Other officers and firefighters watched Franz and his golf partners tee off following a brief ceremony.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Wendy Carpenter said she was a fan of the show.

“I just wish we could get away with some of the stuff they do on TV,” she said. “It looks fun.”

Carpenter said she was happy to see how supportive the community was of the new foundation. Previously there was no official organization providing aid to injured officers.

A shooting that left Coeur d’Alene Officer Michael Kralicek with severe injuries inspired Los Angeles Police officers, who had retired to the area, to form the foundation.

It aims to cover expenses that insurance doesn’t and to provide financial help faster than the government could.

“It took a tragedy for people to realize (the need),” Carpenter said. “It’s always, ‘It can’t happen here.’ But it can.”

Foundation President Mike Murphy said the foundation hopes to raise money through an annual celebrity golf tournament, much like the Los Angeles Police Foundation it’s modeled after.

Franz has also helped with the LAPD fundraisers, Murphy said.

Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Lee Brainard said Franz has graciously supported community fundraisers since moving to Coeur d’Alene.

“His character on ‘NYPD Blue’ is pretty rough,” Brainard said. “He’s clearly a gentleman.”

Franz had compliments for the folks he was raising money for, too.

“It’s great to be a part of that great fraternity, even as a pretend cop,” he said. “I’ve never been made to feel like less because I’m an actor playing the real deal.”

He said he’s building a home on lakefront property and has been looking at scripts. Mostly, he said he’s “just taking it easy.”

“I’m just crazy about everything here,” he said. “It’s great. It’s wonderful to be on the lake every day.”


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