By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired
We are happy that 35-year veteran Hal Collier is sharing his ‘stories behind the badge’ with us.
I thought I’d give you a lighter side of police work with a few short stories.
In the early 70’s we had a sergeant, Roger Belding, who was a poster child for the department recruitment posters. He was fit, young and had his hair combed back in a ducktail, just like the teeny boppers in the movies. Thus he earned the nick name “Teen Angel.” That nick name turned out to be a curse from hell.
Teen Angel was a good supervisor, but somewhere down the line he irritated a couple of cops. No, I wasn’t one of them, but I enjoy a good joke as much as the next cop. In the mid 70’s, our radio system was just a little better than a can and a string. If you were in your police car and you talked into the microphone, the whole division heard what you were saying. The problem was no one knew who was talking.
These cops would bring a cassette player to work. They would wait until “Teen Angel” was not busy, key the mike, and play the song “Teen Angel.” This went on for days. One night, Sergeant Belding was eating at the Copper Penny restaurant when the waitress told Belding that he had a phone call at the cash register. Belding answered the phone and you guessed it, “Teen Angel.” That’s just not right—messing with a guy’s meal time.
Another time Belding was in the Watch Commanders office when “Teen Angel” came over the air. Belding slammed his fist down on the desk and declared, “I know it’s Jack Myers.” Jack walked into the Watch Commanders office and asked Belding, “Did you want me?” You could see the veins on Belding’s neck stick out.
Belding made it a personal goal to find the officers responsible. He would stop the suspected officers and search their car. He never found anything. I later found out that the involved officers were hiding the cassette and tape player in a call box on the Glendale/LA border near Travel Town.
During this period of tom foolery they would also play a rooster crowing, a lion roaring and the song Ooga Chucka. Belding’s efforts to stop this was futile. The Watch Lieutenant stepped up and said in roll call, “If this continues, we will have a stand up inspection every night.”
“Teen Angel” can now only be heard on oldies radio stations.