When comedian Bill Cosby (search) called police Chief Anthony Scott to praise his battle against street crime, the chief thought it was a joke.

Scott told The Republican in Springfield recently that it took Cosby about a minute to convince him of his identity. "I was floored," Scott said.

Cosby's phone call came as the 67-year-old entertainer, who has a home in the rural western Massachusetts town of Shelburne, has taken a personal interest in helping to combat crime in the region's cities.

He met last week with a mother in neighboring Springfield whose 19-year-old twins were killed in separate shootings. Cosby promised to help her organize a community rally against street violence.

Cosby, who attended graduate school at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (search), has also joined with the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield to honor local teens who overcame obstacles to graduate from high school and attend college.