LAPD’s Officer Moore Reveals the Man Behind the Badge—and the Mask
By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter
West Los Angeles Police Department Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore begins his work day surrounded by clowns and monsters—and that’s before the first bookings are brought it.
Nestled in a corner at the West LAPD Police Station, Moore’s desk sits bordered by creatures, colorful action figures and postcards featuring parody musician Weird Al Yankovic. On the side of his filing cabinet hangs a print out of “Napoleon Dynamite” with the face of a fellow officer photoshopped over the face of actor Jon Heder.
“I’m known to be a little bit of a prankster around here,” Moore revealed with a grin.
He’s also a man of many masks: Moore, who has served and protected Angelenos as a police officer since the early ’90s, spends every Halloween season creating terrifying characters to spook and scare children and adults.
The officer in blue began crafting his own Halloween masks while working as a professional scarer at Knott’s Scary Farm, where he walked the park’s streets as a scorned spirit who possessed the ability to change faces, giving the amateur maskmaker the opportunity to play a variety of characters while simultaneously sharpening his craft.
Mask making, the officer explained to the Palisadian-Post, is a multiple-step process that requires countless hours of painstakingly waiting around for crafting material and paint to dry.
It begins by taking a mold of the head, which is later sculpted over with clay. Once the mask’s shape is formed, the clay is then covered in a dense plaster called “hydrocal.”
Working in halves, the dry plaster cast is covered in latex rubber and given time to set before being peeled off and fused together. After that, Moore colors the mask with acrylic paint and hand sews high-end yarn into a wig cap before attaching the locks to the latex scalp.
“The whole process is time consuming and takes patience,” Moore explained, “but we monsters are very temperamental about how we look.”
An avid fan of classic horror films like “Dawn of the Dead” and “Frankenstein,” some of Moore’s most striking masks include a green-fleshed monster with straggly hair and skin-crawling zombies that appear infectious to the touch.
“I like the old school zombies because they’re more realistic and don’t run too fast,” he divulged. “I don’t run too fast either—maybe that’s why I like them.”
And he’s not alone: Apparently many people enjoy being scared, some even shelling out big bucks to put themselves in the way of staged danger.
“Humans have been scaring themselves and each other since the birth of the species, through all kinds of methods like storytelling, jumping off cliffs and popping out to startle each other from the recesses of some dark cave,” Margee Kerr, a sociologist who studies fear and uses her knowledge help build haunted houses, told The Atlantic in 2013.
“And we’ve done this for lots of different reasons—to build group unity, to prepare kids for life in the scary world and, of course, to control behavior. But it’s only really in the last few centuries that scaring ourselves for fun has become a highly sought-after experience.”
In Southern California, Moore isn’t the only person on the force who likes breaking out of their buddy cop character: Retired LASD Sgt Bill Brown, OC District Attorney’s Office Investigator Larry Scott and Diane Scott, a former dispatcher for Anaheim PD, all joined Moore at Knott’s Scary Farm before his last year in 2008.
But don’t worry—Moore hasn’t abandoned his post as LAPD’s most fear-provoking policeman: When he’s not patrolling our streets or popping up at the latest Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting, the officer is devising plans and crafting sinister sprites for a haunt of his very own.
Established in 2013, Moore, along with the help of Senior Lead Officer Kirk, heads the annual LAPD Haunted House, which occupies a permanent space in the West LA
Civic Center’s now-abandoned City Attorney’s Office.
“There’s a good chance this place was already haunted,” he joked. “I think it may actually be less scary now that nobody is working here.”
The former office turned maze of mayhem sits down the hall from District 11 Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office, where Moore pops in from time to time to try and get a scare out of area representative Lisa Cahill.
“Lisa’s really terrified of clowns,” Moore revealed. “Sometimes you just got to have a little fun at work.”
With the help of his family, Moore transformed the old, dusty office into a hall of creepy encounters, complete with resident ghosts, maniacal clowns, and a room filled with mutant babies and their expired mother.
“It really is a family affair,” he told the Post. “My son, Matthew, is an electrical engineer who helped me install all of the lighting and my daughter, Michelle, designed our Facebook page and assists with the marketing.”
Moore’s wife, Margaret, whom he met as members in their high school band (he played the tuba, she was a flag spinner), monitors the entrance to the haunted house and ensures that everyone gets a fair scare.
Inside, Moore directs a team of cadets and fellow officers who fill the house with blinding fog and horror.
And although they won’t hold back on scaring an unsuspecting adult, Moore ensures that his haunt is age-appropriate for even the littlest monsters.
“We let the actors know when the young kids are coming through,” he said. “That way families of all sizes can come out and have a good time with us.”
When asked why he was so drawn to Halloween and its themes of fear and terror, Moore’s explanation was, surprisingly, more sweet than scary.
“There’s really only so much scaring you can do when you walk up with your ticket book,” Moore explained. “Plus, rarely does anyone ever leave those situations with a smile on their face—I think there’s a certain joy that comes along with giving a scare to those who want it.”
People of all ages are invited to attend LAPD’s Haunted House, which runs Oct. 21, Oct. 22, Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Civic Center in Santa Monica. Admission into the attraction is free but it is requested that entrants refrain from wearing any masks or costumes.
For more information, call 310-444-0737 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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