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Cops of 'Reno 911!' head to Florida in their first full-length movie

Lisa Heyamoto
McClatchy Newspapers

("Reno 911!: Miami" is a parody. Lt. Jim Dangle, Deputy Trudy Wiegel and Deputy Travis Junior, played respectively by Thomas Lennon, Kerri Kenney-Silver and Robert Ben Garant, were in character for this interview.)

___

SAN FRANCISCO - Being a cop is a tough job. And for the brave officers at the Washoe County Sheriff's Department, protecting and serving the good people of Reno has always been a particular challenge.

Big shots like, say, professional educators or clinical psychologists might venture that it might be because each of the eight members of this elite crime-fighting unit is_to use the technical term_dumb as paint.

But the officers themselves know better.

"You have to be a blank slate, mentally, to be in law enforcement," explains Deputy Travis Junior in an interview at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Junior, as if to underscore his superior intelligence and instinct, wore his bulletproof vest in anticipation of the unexpected dangers that frequently lurk in a luxury hotel.

Junior was in town with fellow Deputy Trudy Wiegel and Lt. Jim Dangle to promote their new movie, "Reno 911!: Miami," a "Cops"-style film based on the popular Comedy Central TV program that chronicles their watch over the mean streets of Reno.

In their full-length debut, which opens Friday, the squad heads south to Miami, where they've been invited to, and subsequently barred from, a national police conference. When an evil band of terrorists attacks the conference venue, trapping a country's worth of law enforcement inside, it's up to them to save the day.

How do they do it? By using the same strategy they do to keep Reno the crime-free city it is today: doing almost nothing at all.

"If two crackheads are fighting, sometimes it's best not to answer the call," said Junior.

But everyone knows that a true cop's power lies in his facial hair. Does the cop make the mustache or does the mustache make the cop?

"Oh, that's the chicken or the egg," Junior said. "That's an unanswerable question."

There are, however, other elements that are fundamental for a cop to do his job and to do it well: the aforementioned mustache (sorry, ladies), a gun and, in Dangle's case, a pair of alarmingly short shorts.

Once reluctantly installed in their new positions by Miami's mayor, the officers traded in their usual Reno khaki for the blue and white of the "Magic City," a tougher transition for some then others.

"I like the khaki because the blue and white makes me feel like a gay ice cream salesman," Junior said.

"I like the (blue and white) for the exact same reason," Dangle added, and with flair.

But a uniform's a uniform, and you don't need some fancy polyester pants (or shorts) to do the job you were born, or at least court-ordered, to do.

For Dangle and Wiegel, the decision to become a cop wasn't so much a choice as it was the result of what some would call a glaring error in judgment.

"They took away my real estate license for what they call `fraud' and what I call `a misunderstanding,'" Dangle said. "So I sold that condo to (a few) different buyers. A lot of people don't get me."

Wiegel was pointed toward law enforcement on doctor's orders after a lucrative career in frozen yogurt sales ended when she introduced a topping that broke several, if not all, statutes of the health code.

For Junior, a third-generation cop, his career choice was written in both the stars and some arguably questionable genes.

But personal criminal histories aside, these officers know that they're damn good cops.

Because, as Dangle tells his team in an inspirational speech that would make Vince Lombardi cry like a little girl: "We may not be the smartest, we may not be the best trained and we may not be the smartest."

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