The tale of Byrd, Officer Byrd

By Erin Murphy

Mike Simonsen shows Officer Byrd their new book “The Adventures of Officer Byrd.” (Rebekah Elliot)

By Erin Murphy

A bird who can ride a bike, roller skate, drive a police vehicle, play basket ball and throw away trash is definitely an attention getter. Officer Byrd is a real life parrot who does all that and more.

Around 30 years ago Michael Simonsen, an LAPD officer, was interested in how teaching kids about public safety could be made more interesting.

“After going to a few schools to teach kids about public safety I began to realize that the kids were more interested in my gun and uniform than in anything I was saying,” Simonsen said.

After a trip to the zoo with his children Simonsen decided to look into training some type of bird to accompany him to local schools when discussing public safety.

Jim Kling, a retired police officer who trained birds in Norco, liked Simonsen’s idea and gave Simonsen a parrot as long as Simonsen agreed to train the parrot himself. After six months of training, Simonsen adopted and named the parrot Officer Byrd.

Officer Byrd was a big hit in not only Los Angeles City schools, but also throughout the police department as well. He became known as Officer Byrd 007 and was also made an official police officer of the LAPD.

For about 30 years this “dynamic duo” provided children with knowledge about public safety and protecting themselves in certain situations that they might not have received anywhere else.

“Over those thirty years I had about forty kids confide in Officer Byrd telling him about certain situations that they didn’t know how to tell anyone else,” Simonsen said. “Helping those children made me realize that kids were listening to Officer Byrd.”

After about 30 years, Simonsen and Officer Byrd retired from the LAPD and continued doing local events. In April of 2006, Simonsen decided to begin his series of children’s books based on true life events of himself and Officer Byrd.

The first book is finally completed and Simonsen and Officer Byrd are “more than ready to get back out there to help young kids.”

“The Adventures of Officer Byrd” is the title of the first book. The profits from this book are going to go a non-profit organization called The Officer Byrd Non Profit Org. created by Michael Simonsen. Eventually Simonsen would like to earn enough profits to be able to open an Officer Byrd Safe House for abused children.

Copies of “The Adventures of Officer Byrd” will be sold at Imagine That in Canyon Crest and Borders in Riverside the week of March 12.