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SCHRODER RIDES WITH POLICE FOR ROLE

Readying for his new job on "NYPD Blue," former child star Rick Schroder learned from some real Big Apple cops.

Riding along with police, Schroder recently spent a day racing around New York, visiting the sites of two homicides, a suicide, the city morgue and watching undercover "buy-and-bust" narcotics operations.

"It was intense and extensive," Schroder said in Sunday's Daily News. "These guys do a hell of a job."

Fans of the gritty TV crime drama weren't the only ones surprised by the casting of Schroder, 28, to replace Jimmy Smits.

"I feel like I won the lottery," Schroder said.

A native New Yorker, Schroder first appeared in a TV commercial at age 3 months. Dozens of other commercials followed, and he went on to co-star in "The Champ" with Jon Voight and in the sitcom "Silver Spoons."

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