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Job Interview

[whitespace] On the Beat

That mysterious foggy facade alongside the freeway--you've seen it a million times while making your way out of town. The curved windows beg you to look inside, but the frosted glass says Keep driving. Ever wonder what exactly is going on in there? Turns out it's the Sheriff Building, a facility for prisoners sentenced for up to one year. Writer/photographer Elana Koff got inside, and eventually out again. But not before she had a chance to interrogate Robbery Inspector #2014, Michael Maloney.

Elana: What is your job?

Inspector: I investigate robberies. Robbery is when someone steals something from you, from your person, like a purse snatching. There are approximately 8,000 robbery cases in San Francisco a year. Investigating a case involves interviewing witnesses and victims, and interrogating the defendant(s). Within 48 hours, we must take the case to the DA in order for them to process it. With the who-done-it cases, we put out warrants for their arrest.

Elana: Do you like it?

Inspector: Well, I do like it. It's a good civil service job. It has retirement. I like the flexibility, but I don't care for the politics. And it's not as sleuthy as you'd think. A show like Cops only glamorizes criminals and officers. In actuality, it's tedious and frustrating work. You've got a little bit of authority which gives you some self-esteem.

Elana: How did you start?

Inspector: I was in the Marines and then was transferred to Vietnam, where I worked as a legal clerk because I could type. After serving my two-year enlistment, I moved to Colorado and worked for a phone company. I broke up with my girlfriend and moved back here, where I was born and raised. I was looking for a job and applied to both the fire and police departments. The Police Department grabbed me and I became a uniformed patrol officer on the Tenderloin and Hunter's Point beats.

Elana: How long have you been with the SFPD?

Inspector: Twenty-six years on Feb. 14.

Elana: Do you hang out with your colleagues?

Inspector: No, but that's unusual. It's a long story. Plus, most of them live out of the city.

Elana: If you weren't working here, what might you be doing?

Inspector: Photography, and that is what I'm going to do when I retire. I've worked for the city for so long and have been given so much I'd like to give back through creating social documentary photographs.

Elana: What is the last book you've read?

Inspector: The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons and Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.

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From the March 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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