By Hal Collier
The following stories are true. I’ll only use first names if I remember them correctly. These are bits and pieces of things that happened in my career. Hope you enjoy. I hope I don’t get sued.
Dale Hickerson and I are working together. Dale and I have been partners and friends since 1971. Partners come and go; friends like Dale are for a lifetime. Ok, enough mush, I’m going to drive today. We check out a black and white (B/W) from the kit (equipment) room. You never know who drove it last, does it have gas, does it have a half-eaten Pinks Chili dog with jalapenos under the front seat that’s been there five days!!! Anyway, you get your car keys, walk around the parking lot for twenty minutes, looking for your car, they all look alike. Ok, I found it.
I open the trunk and drop in my 25-pound equipment bag. Dale’s a few steps behind me. He was searching the west end of the parking lot. I open the driver’s door, lean in and put my baton in the door holder. I lean in a little farther to put my clipboard between the front seats.
I freeze. Sitting there between the seats is a pineapple hand grenade. Dale opens his door and I yell, “freeze.” Dale looks down and sees the hand grenade. Now anyone who’s been married for a long time knows that husbands and wives often think the same things and finish each other’s sentences. Now, Dale and I have been partners for so long that we both stand up and look for cops or a sergeant laughing at us. No one’s looking at us, so we check the fire department next door, (see earlier story about firemen’s practical jokes). Nothing. The hand grenade is wedged between the seats, all we can see is the middle part of the body.
Dale and I were young cops when the SLA and other subversive groups were targeting police officers. They planted bombs under police cars. We didn’t want our pictures on the wall in the station lobby. That’s reserved for officers killed in the line of duty. We called the bomb squad.
Any time a suspected explosive device is found, you clear a 300-foot perimeter. The entire police parking lot is shut down and it’s change of watch. Detectives are showing up. All they want is to park their car, go to their desk and have a cup of coffee. Even worse, the previous watch wants to go home and climb into bed. None of that is going to happen until the bomb squad checks out our car. Dale and I look at each other; this day is starting out bad. Detectives are making a Starbucks run and the previous watch is asking if they get overtime because they can’t get to their cars.
The Bomb Squad arrives and checks out the hand grenade. Apparently, the thing is a dud. The bottom is drilled out, but we couldn’t see that. Two night watch officers found it in a parking lot, saw that it was a dud and put it between the seats of the police car. At the end of their shift, they forgot about it and went home. They got their asses chewed and Dale and I spent the rest of the day looking over our shoulders.
At one time, our police station parking lot had planters with some trees. The planters were next to parking spots where officers would have arrestees get out of the back seat of the police car. If officers were not watching, the bad guys would drop their dope in the planters. One year, we had a twelve-inch Marijuana plant growing in the police station parking lot. The planters were removed when they built the new fire station next door.
This is a locker room story. It was a known fact that I was the first one in the locker room every day for almost 35 years. I even beat the probationers. I didn’t like being late or rushed. It was also well known that I always had chewing gum in my pocket and carried a sharp knife. I hand-sharpened my knives and liked to keep them very sharp. Early one morning, I’m polishing my badge and Billy is in the next aisle. Billy Berndt yells over the row of lockers, ”Hal do you have a knife?” I reply, “Yea, but be careful—it’s sharp”. Twenty seconds later, Billy asks, “Hal do you have a bandage?”
Yea, I had bandages too.