By Joe Wolfcale
The Marin Independent Journal
NOVATO, Calif. - Jim Laveroni loved music and the arts as a college student and, with his bachelor's degree in communication, he knew he'd have something to fall back on.
Little did Laveroni, now 54, know he'd fall back on it more than 30 years later.
Novato police Lt. Laveroni, who worked his way up from a patrol officer after joining Novato in 1977, is retiring at the end of the month. He'll then embark on what his wife calls the "second phase" of his life - being a videographer, as well as a drummer and percussionist in two bands, Wall of Rhythm and Heartlanguage, which play rhythm and blues, jazz and more.
Wall of Rhythm is a regular at Rickey's in Ignacio and has played at Cobb's Comedy Club in San Francisco and at many Novato city functions, said Novato Sgt. Earl Titman, a fellow band member.
"He's a great joker and loves to have fun," Titman said. "He's a real genuine person. He really cares about people. He's certainly going to be missed."
Being a musician is a lot like police work, Laveroni said.
"It's like playing music in front of lots of people," he said of police work. "You can't be shy and do this job, either."
Laveroni started playing the drums when he was 13. "I always loved music, and I've been blessed with rhythm," he said. "At 54, now I love it. It's a release É it relaxes me. I really can't describe the feeling."
Laveroni grew up in San Francisco's Sunset District. He graduated from St. Ignatius Prep in 1971 and went on to the University of San Francisco, where he was a disc jockey on the college's radio station and performed in plays.
He always had an interest in law enforcement and, after meeting several San Francisco officers, decided police work was for him. He has worked every division at Novato except traffic.
"I feel so fortunate to have worked here all these years," said Laveroni, who served under six chiefs.
About 10 years ago, he developed a video business after the department asked him to put together a training video on department diversity. He called it 11-99 Video Productions. 11-99 is the police radio code when an officer needs assistance.
"It used to be something I did on the side. Now it will be front and center," Laveroni said.
The videotape was distributed to other agencies throughout California.
Now he has better equipment, cameras, lighting, sound and editing equipment for weddings, family gatherings and video montages.
"He's a unique guy. He never really takes himself too seriously," Novato police Chief Joe Kreins said. "He's pretty remarkable. I have no doubt he'll bleed Novato PD blue forever."
Laveroni and his wife, Carol, have been married 20 years. They live in Sonoma County. Murphy, a cocker spaniel, is their companion.
He said he will still stay active in police work, helping train recruits at the Santa Rosa Police Academy.
It has been a nice ride in Novato.
"My hat's off to everyone who allowed me to have a full career in all aspects," Laveroni said. "They've allowed me to use all my talents.
"I'll really miss the camaraderie."
Copyright 2007 Marin Independent Journal
After 30 years Northern Calif. officer has new beat: retirement