When the storied 30-year partnership between Northeast LAPD Officers Harold Marinelli and J.C. Duarte ended with Marinelli’s retirement in 2017, Duarte handpicked Officer Leo Perez, a 40-year old with 15 years on the force, as his new partner. The two patrolled NELA together for nearly a year until Duarte’s retirement in August.
What was it like to partner with a local hero? The Boulevard Sentinel checked in recently with Perez.
What stands out as your most memorable day with Duarte? I couldn’t tell you what my most memorable day was with him, because we always had a great time. We spoke about family, the job, we laughed, we joked around with other officers, and we spoke about God, which is Duarte’s and my focus in life.
How was the last day on the job with him? It was a slow day. We shook the bushes, but nothing was coming out. We ended the day with him being safe and saying goodbye over the radio.
But what was it like for you? It was sad saying goodbye to him, I’m going to miss the old man, but at the same time, I was honored to work with a legend in Northeast.
If you had to sum up the rules Duarte lived by, what would they be? Always do the right thing. Stand up for what’s right and what you believe, no matter what. And always work hard so that you can be satisfied with yourself.
Any other observations? I’m glad that a lot of young officers in Northeast got to see Duarte and Marinelli work together because they were great examples to the Northeast Division.
Perez, who still works patrol in NELA, recently received his fourth Stolen Recovered Vehicle Award. All four came in the time he was partnered with Duarte, a fabled nemesis of car thieves.