A small dose of Fred Clapp

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The Independent Culture
"With a name like mine, prostitution detail seemed the obvious step." That's detective Fred Clapp speaking, recently retired from the LAPD's vice squad and reminiscing about his 25-year career in Network First: "Hollywood Vice" (10.40pm ITV). It's not the only such pun in this film, though it may be the only one Clapp is aware of making. More revealing than any of the night-time footage of LA's mean streets is the extraordinary way this guy talks.

Clapp mentions Alex, the celebrated Beverly Hills Madam, whom for a long time he was unable to prosecute. "I was on the threshold of Alex but I could never quite get there." Clapp talks about arresting Heidi Fleiss, so-called Madam to the stars: "The purpose is to knock her down." Clapp admits to enjoying the power he got from "operating hookers". Here's a seriously weird attitude towards women - no wonder this man has two failed marriages behind him.

We hear a lot about undercover operations, which these days mostly amount to simple entrapment on the streets. Although the cops argue that prostitution has links with organised crime, you can't help but side with Madam Alex. Only she sees anything absurd about sending three helicopters, five police cars and dogs to arrest Heidi Fleiss. "What an exercise in futility,'' she says wistfully - compared to the machismo of the police, that's a small but shiny nugget of wisdom.

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