By Ed Meckle #7612 1956/1976, Retired LAPD
Our patrol area was known on the streets as “Sugar Hill.” Back in the 1890’s and turn of the century there were dozens of old mansions in our area—former homes of the rich and famous. All now fallen on hard times, some abandoned, or rooming houses, shooting galleries and just plain old flop houses. My partners knew every location and most of the street people.
We drove the main streets in the right lane with the flow of traffic, cruised the side streets and always the alleys, sometimes with lights out. All windows open regardless of weather. Sometimes late at night we would park, engine off and just listen.
We were there to see and be seen. Let both the good folks and the bad guys know we were there.
Sometimes we ran from call to call with no patrol time. When we did cruise, we stopped and talked to suspicious people and sometimes were rewarded with narcotics, a gun or felony pinch.
We had no decent eating spots and always ate at a local greasy spoon. Food was free, with 25 cent tip. We ate what they put in front of you.
Lots of coffee, drink and drive. More than one cup was tossed out the window to answer a hot call.
It was a rare night without at least one cutting or shooting. When the relief checks came, and it coincided with a hot Saturday night, the area turned into Dodge City, a very violent place
The calls varied from reports, to assaults, to disputes and all I ca n say is I loved every minute of it.
Hal Collier #16336 1970/2005
When on probation I was assigned a Basic A Car, first 6A17, the Beachwood Canyon car with little crime in the middle of the night. Two months later I was assigned 6A41 the basic car assigned to the Fairfax District, but again other than the occasional business burglary not much to patrol for. We spent most of our time on the busy streets like Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard. During the early morning hours, Hollywood was wide open. Even after the bars and clubs closed there was something going on. There were restaurants that stayed open all night to feed the rockers leaving the clubs. One restaurant on the west end of the division was known as “Rock and Roll Denny’s.” The drunk drivers were trying to negotiate the busy streets and the prostitute trade was just getting warmed up. I laugh whenever I hear someone say, “Prostitution is a victimless crime.” Ask all the johns who got robbed, wallets picked or just cut with a knife. The crime was when they tried to explain the loss to their spouse.
Like Ed, we also patrolled the side streets just off the main boulevards. I always had my window rolled down, not only to hear possible activity but if someone took a shot at you, it was possible to hear from what direction the shot came. I remember one cold winter night my training officer told me “Put some glass in that porthole.” I rolled it up half way. I once was driving down a dark side street with my lights out. We stopped a suspect and he told us “I knew you were the cops because I could see your rabbit ears on the roof of your car.” He was referring to our tin can red lights. I later decided to turn on my high beam lights which blinded my vehicle silhouette. You can always learn new tricks.
As Ed mentioned, he would often park and shut the engine off. I seldom did that, but I found the hardest thing to teach a rookie cop was patience. Wait until the crime occurs before you jump in. An example: we got a call of a possible burglar at an apartment building. We did all the right things, approach with lights off, radio turned down and we quietly approached the building. We peeked around the corner of the building. We saw a suspect step into the bushes next to an apartment window, my probationer jumped out and yelled, “police freeze.” The DA refused to file charges, stating we stopped the suspect before he committed a crime.
Hollywood was crazy with radio calls. Most nights, after briefing, you got five calls (the maximum). Some were hours old. I once got a call four hours old of a fight on a street corner. I told my partner of there still fighting after four hours I don’t want to tangle with them! We called it, “chasing the radio,” and seldom had spare time for investigative police work.
Like Ed, I loved every minute of it!
Next Ed and I will describe RTO’s from different decades.