By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired We are happy that 35-year veteran Hal Collier is sharing his ‘stories behind the badge’ with us.
The story you are about to read is true, the names have been changed to protect the embarrassed. Earlier I wrote about rookie mistakes, some made by probationers, some made by new supervisors, a lot made by me. I thought I was finished with that category but I had an epiphany. This story is short because the practical joke is long.
I’m the junior officer and I’m working with Ron on A.M. watch. It about 3 A.M. and the radio is quiet. Ron is driving and complaining about how little sleep he got during the day.
Now, to my non-police friends who think cops don’t catch a few winks during the long nights—they probably think their elected politicians have their best interests when passing laws.
After about fifteen minutes of Ron complaining how tired he is, I offer to drive and let him nap. I tell Ron I’ll drive around the hills so the sergeant doesn’t catch us. Ron jumps at the chance and pulls over. We exchange seats on Prospect Avenue, a quiet side street on the east end of Hollywood. Ron adjusts the head rest and crosses his legs. I’m adjusting the mirrors because Ron is shorter than I am. Ron’s head rests on the headrest and he closes his eyes. I put the car in drive and accelerate to about fifteen MPH. I drive about two blocks and realize that the seat is too close to the steering wheel. Short partners are great for looking under things, like beds, but not for looking over fences.
I reach down to pull the seat lever to move the seat back. This is before electric seats so you have to push off on the floorboard with your foot to move the seat back. Ok, remember the car is traveling about mph. Ron is reclined and drifting off to sleep. I put my foot down and slide the seat back.
The car jerks to an immediate stop, Ron lurches forward almost slamming into the dashboard. I immediately realize that I stepped on the brake pedal.
Ron begins calling me names, usually reserved for the low life’s we deal with. I’m thinking of my stupidity and began to laugh. Ron thinks I did it on purpose and spews more profanity at me. The more he yells the harder I laugh. Ron didn’t close his eyes for the rest of the night.