A new column, “Roll Call,” appears on alternate Sundays starting today. The author is called “Mikey.” In the ongoing mission to bring the real stories to literature, television, movies, the internet, Mikey has joined Hal Collier and Ed Meckle from LAPD to share his tales.
His creds: Served in the USAF as a military police officer, 1 year in Vietnam. Joined the Ontario PD in 1971 and remained until 1973 when he joined the LAPD. He worked Juvenile, Narcotics, Vice, Training and Patrol. Mikey made sergeant in 1990 and retired in 2008, from Hollywood Division.
Here’s his first story: The Norton Avenue Incident by Mikey
Norton Avenue, Wilshire Area 1991
In my eighteen years of being a field sergeant, I was fortunate to have learned early what it meant to appreciate the field officers—both seasoned and the “wrinkle-frees,” as I referred to them. This is a story of bravery and selfless devotion to the communities we serve.
Occasionally, being in the right place at the right time can be a very healthy thing—if not for you then for someone else. I had been a sergeant six months when the Rodney King incident occurred. I was assigned to Wilshire Patrol and usually worked the morning watch. However, because I had been a PT/ Self Defense instructor at the academy I was asked to attend several community meetings throughout the city to explain the department’s use of force policy following the Rodney King incident.
This temporary assignment required me to adjust my work schedule. It was about 1:30 P.M. when I was picking up coffee at the Winchell’s on La Cienega at Washington in preparation to attend a community meeting in the valley. So, I wasn’t supposed to be in that division. The call that we all dread, “Officer needs help, shots fired, officer down,” came out over the air. The call was on Norton Avenue near 9th Street.
I responded and saw a black and white in the middle of the street facing north with a probationary officer taking cover on the right front fender of the cruiser. His partner was lying down behind him. I asked the officer to go to a tactical frequency and to my astonishment, I was talking to the senior officer! He told me that the person lying down on the street was a female shooting victim. The senior officer had taken a position of advantage in the home directly north of the house where the victim had been shot. A neighbor had called communications, mistakenly saying the female victim was an officer. According to the rookie officer, the woman was still alive.
Just then the senior officer reported a shot being fired from within the house where the female victim has escaped. The officer reported a young man, bound and gagged, had been pushed out of the back door. He fell motionless onto the driveway. It was later discovered the young man was the son of the female victim. Both had been shot by the woman’s estranged boyfriend.
Additional units began to arrive and we formulated a rescue plan. As I was instructing the officers what to do I noticed that a lieutenant and a senior sergeant were observing the preparations. I motioned for them to join the group. The lieutenant said, “You’ve got it.”
I had the officers who were not on the rescue team spread their bullet proof vests on the rescue vehicle that would afford the rescue team some protection. The vests were affixed to the cruiser with duct tape. After all, this was 1991 before armored doors.
Five officers were to deploy in the rescue vehicle, one was to exit prior to the vehicle entering the drive way. His job was to assist the probationary officer placing the female victim into the cruiser and proceeding north on Norton and out of harm’s way. The four remaining officers were to proceed into the driveway, two were to rescue the male victim and the other two would cover the officers rescuing the male victim.
I asked the pilot in the overhead air unit that when she observed the unit enter the driveway, to flatten the pitch of her rotor. Being a helicopter pilot, I know that this creates a sound similar to a machine gun going off—a great distraction.
Everything went as planned and the officers were able to secure the male victim in the cruiser and safely leave the house. The senior officer, still in his position of advantage, heard a single shot shortly after the officers left.
Now at the scene, SWAT made entry and found the suspect dead from a self-inflicted wound. Both victims survived their wounds.
Now came the hard part. Not only reports, a law enforcement necessity, but those brave officers needed to be awarded for their bravery. I met with the divisional and patrol captains and we discussed the writing of the awards document. I made it perfectly clear that all officers involved were to receive the awards and citations commensurate to their involvement. I told both captains that my involvement was as the scene supervisor and nothing else. I told them that anything higher than a commendation for my involvement would have diminished the bravery of those five young officers. I sent them into harm’s way and they never hesitated. They never questioned my decisions, they were flawless, and they were the best the department had to offer.
All five received their well-deserved medals.