By Hal Collier
I retired from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2005, after thirty-five years as a street cop. I spent most of my time working Hollywood Division, the Entertainment Capital of the World. It was entertaining to say the least.
I worked with some of the best cops and a few of the worst cops in the world. Together we laughed and far too often, we cried. We attended more cop funerals than we should have and we often hid our emotions. That’s just the way cops deal with the job. Some think that all goes away when cops retire. WRONG.
From your first day of work, you start thinking about the time that you can retire. You envision living on a beach or in a mountain cabin, sipping cocktails as the sun sets. Well the truth is a little different. It’s still good, but just a little more realistic. Some are more likely to find themselves drinking a warm beer while sitting on a Barca lounger chair.
I seldom let my neighbors know what kind of work I did. Example, a neighbor once knocked on my door late one night to settle a dispute with her boyfriend. I told her to call the police. My department frowns on me doing police work in my pajamas. Now that I’m retired I still watch strangers in my neighborhood, but I don’t do police work anymore—at least not when I’m awake. Asleep, I still chase bad guys and once solved the Black Dahlia case. Unfortunately in the morning I couldn’t remember the answer.
Shortly after retiring, I’m sitting in my Eagle Rock home and I hear some gunshots. Now I know the difference between gunshots and firecrackers. I also know the difference between an ambulance siren and a police car siren. When you pin on that badge and work for a period of time you become a cop for life. Taking off the badge for the last time does not stop the years of training and experience that cops developed.
I hear a lot of police sirens and soon the police helicopter is circling about six blocks east of my house. I know it’s something big. A different neighbor who knew I was a cop calls and asks, “what’s going on?” I tell her I’ll find out.
I live in Northeast Division and don’t know anyone in the Watch Commanders office who might know me, so I call the Hollywood Watch Commander. They can check the source of the call on the computer. I call the inside line and get the PSR, (Police Service Representative.) I’ve only been retired a few months but she doesn’t know me. I ID myself as a recently retired police officer from Hollywood and ask her about the shooting in Northeast. She tells me that she can’t give out that information to the G.P.
I ask who the Watch Commander is and she tells me. It’s a sergeant I worked with, he remembers me. Cool, I’m going to get the info. He refers me back to the PSR. She tells me again that since I’m retired, I’m GP and not entitled to the information on the shooting.
A few months earlier I was a sergeant and often the Watch Commander of one of the busiest Divisions in the city of Los Angeles. I made decisions that might cause me an early retirement, the departments choice not mine. Now I’m G.P.
I wasn’t familiar with the term G.P. so I asked what’s G.P.? She calmly and professionally told me your General Public!!! I knew that night that I was retired and no longer a cop. It was a hard pill to swallow. I discussed with my wife getting a tattoo “GP” but she objected.
Next I’ll discuss how cops deal with being “G.P.”