David Swinson
David Swinson. (Author photograph by Jeffrey Baldwin.)

David Swinson began his career at the height of the punk rock movement in the early 1980s. After attending California State University as a film major, he booked and promoted punk rock and alternative music at Fender’s Ballroom, Melody Dance Center and Bogart’s Nightclub in Long Beach, California.

Swinson also started a Wednesday night evening of conversation and spoken word at Bogart’s with luminaries such as Hunter S. Thompson, Dr. Timothy Leary, John Waters and Jim Carroll. After several years of booking, promoting, as well as developing lasting relationships with such people as Timothy Leary and Hunter S. Thompson, it was a natural segue to develop and co-produce Sound Bites from the Counter Culture for Atlantic Records in 1990. This spoken-word compilation featured writers, orators and politicians, including Thompson, Leary, Carroll, Abbie Hoffman, and Eugene McCarthy. Billboard called the album “essential listening.”

In 1990, while having drinks with Timothy Leary and friend Bill Stankey, an idea for an offbeat buddy film entitled “Roadside Prophets” was conceived. The film eventually found a home with FineLine Features and was distributed theatrically by New Line Cinema. The film starred John Doe (of the band X) and Adam Horovitz (of the Beastie Boys) and featured Timothy Leary, John Cusack, David Carradine and Arlo Guthrie. Over the past few years, “Roadside Prophets” has become a cult classic among young viewers.

In 1994, Swinson pursued another passion – law enforcement. He returned to his home base of Washington DC, where he joined the Metropolitan Police Department. Swinson began his career as a police officer in uniform. He was then assigned to the Gun Recovery Unit as a tactical officer. Shortly after that, Swinson was assigned as a plainclothes/undercover officer, targeting narcotics and crimes in progress. In 1998, Swinson was assigned to the Third District Detectives Office as an investigator, where he covered offenses ranging from burglary and armed robbery to homicide. In 2000, he was promoted to detective and was eventually assigned to the department’s Special Investigations Bureau/Major Crimes, and was the lead investigator in the District of Columbia for investigating serial burglaries, high profile cases and organized criminal operations related to narco-fencing.

Swinson is a highly decorated member of the Metropolitan Police Department, having received numerous awards including the department’s prestigious Detective of the Year Award for 2003; Meritorious Service Medals for significant, outstanding and sustained achievements; Achievement Medals of Honor for a significant case investigation and several Department of Justice, United States Attorney’s Annual Law Enforcement Awards for significant case investigations. He has also received two major awards from Target Corporation for outstanding community service.