Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Thanksgiving on the Job

I thought it fitting to give you Hal Collier’s Thanksgiving post on Thanksgiving. I’ll have a little something about being thankful on Sunday, November 26th.


By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Our_(Almost_Traditional)_Thanksgiving_DinnerThe normal scenario for celebrating Thanksgiving Day is to skip breakfast and wait for the Thanksgiving dinner. Then put on a pair of loose pants or something with an elastic waist band. Then head to Grandma’s house or maybe your parents’ house. As you got older it might be your turn to cook the turkey.

But there’s a difference if you’re a first responder. Someone has to work even while everyone else is loosening their belts and watching football.

In the LAPD you had a holiday wish list for days off. You had a choice of five holidays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. If you were a rookie you probably got Arbor Day.

Now, even when I had over 30 years’ experience I didn’t get all five days off. So, I had to choose which days I preferred. Of course, I preferred Christmas Eve first. Christmas Day second, New Year’s Day third, News Year’s Eve fourth and Thanksgiving last. Funny but those were also my wife’s choices.

So, I worked almost every Thanksgiving. No big deal, I wasn’t that fond of turkey. Sometimes our family would celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday or maybe Saturday to work around every one’s schedule.

Trust me, I’ve cooked turkey almost every way conceivable. I’ve cooked bird on a rotisserie, in the oven, in a brown paper bag in the oven—very moist—and I’ve deep fried turkeys in boiling peanut oil. The deep-fried turkeys were good, but then we were reminded that our son is allergic to peanuts. Lately, we have served Honey Baked hams. Did you know they deliver to your front door?

BP-Breakroom-092415My point is on Thanksgiving Day my Thanksgiving dinner was usually something fast food in a paper bag after talking into a clown face. For the majority of my career I worked graveyard, that’s 11:30 PM to first dawn. I’d leave for work around 10 PM and as I walked in the back door I was overcome by a tantalizing smell of turkey. I made my way up the stairs as the smell got stronger. Just before I entered the locker room I looked into the break room—two turkeys were sitting on the table. Actually, the cop came out in me and I investigated—let me be clear: there were two turkey carcasses on the tables. Picked clean. Oh, there were side dishes, too, but they didn’t have a carcass just empty pans.

I dressed and asked the Watch Commander where all the food came from? He smiled, said the local businesses always take care of the cops in Hollywood. I reminded him that I was a Hollywood cop, just working the wrong hours. Looks like another Thanksgiving meal in a paper bag.

You want turkey fries with that?

One year, I was off on Thanksgiving and thought about cops eating out of a paper bag. I deep fried two turkeys and took one to the station. Feeding Hollywood cops was my way of saying thanks. turkey-23435_960_720


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Drunks in the Park

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Ramblings: Drunks in the Park

Rock GardenI was reading Mikey’s blog about “Short Dogs” and it sparked a very old memory. I started the police academy on Oct. 5, 1970. The first month they crammed our brains with criminal law, self-defense tactics, PT (physical training), which I was told was rougher than Marine Corp boot camp. They also had us throw some lead down range at some silhouette targets. The second month they sent us out to patrol for one day on weekends. We were as green as could be, but we were dressed as real cops and even had loaded guns.

My story begins with our fourth month. We’re getting a little cocky. Our walk is getting that swagger, but we still don’t have a clue how to do real police work. In the past your fourth month was spent in the field. You got to work patrol for two weeks, had driver training, a couple of days working with detectives and, don’t forget the thrill-packed trip to the coroner’s office. They showed you dead bodies and maybe even an autopsy. A lot in my class had been to Viet Nam so dead bodies were not a shock.
We were all looking forward to a whole month of no PT instructors yelling at us and making reference to our heritage! Our class was assigned to station security; guess where? That’s right, the police academy. I guess I was lucky, I got assigned day watch. That’s right, I’m guarding the police academy where just about everybody has a loaded gun. Weekends were nice not too many people around, but I still had a loaded gun. I felt kind of sorry for my classmates who got graveyard shift. Not too much going on after dark unless you wandered into the “Rock Garden.” The Rock Garden was behind the Academy Lounge where cops would have a refreshing beverage and unwind, often with members of the fairer sex. I heard the rock garden was like the last row of a drive-in movie. I have no personal knowledge; remember, I was married.

So, after two weeks of walking around the Academy I finally get to play policemen in the field. I’m assigned to Rampart day watch. Rampart is just west of downtown Los Angeles. My first day I’m assigned to work with a foot beat officer whose assignment is to patrol MacArthur park. I asked my partner what we do in MacArthur park on day watch and he says we arrest drunks. I’m thinking I ran 5 miles up and down hills around the academy and did push-ups as the sun was setting to arrest drunks? I then had an inspiration—arresting drunks beat the hell out of doing pushups at sundown.

Iranian Police dog training/photo courtesy Molosser Dogs


After coffee we head to the park. We drive up the ramp on the sidewalk and head down the foot path into the park. I’m not familiar with the drunks that might be in the park. At the first park bench, my partner stops about three feet away. The biggest Great Dane I ever saw walks up to my car window and sticks his enormous head inches from my face. I believe the dog had just completed some personal hygiene. I guess my expression was funny because my partner and the owner laughed.

The next park bench has a couple of old-timers. Sitting on the ground between them is a plain brown paper bag wrapped neatly around a cylindrical glass bottle. My partner asked them who does that bag belong to. Both deny any knowledge of the bag. My partner confiscates the bag and much to my surprise it contains a bottle of red wine. The bottle is emptied in the trash can in front of the men. I thought I saw a tear in one of men’s eyes.

man sitting on park benchThe next bench has four men sitting upright. We get out of the car for this group. Again, there’s a bottle in the brown paper bag on the ground. The men all have bloodshot eyes and one’s starting to lean to the port side. My partner asks the men to stand. None of them can. They seem to be a happy bunch as we put them into the back seat of our car.
This bottle of wine is placed in our older model Plymouth black and white.

police bookingWe drive to PAB (downtown) where the local jail is for Rampart Division. We pull into the back of the misdemeanor section of the jail and then my partner taught me a lesson I used for the next 35 years. He handed the bottle of wine that we had found in the park and handed it to the four men. They each took a long drink until the bottle was empty. No one complained that they preferred white wine. I walked the first drunk up to the booking officer and the officer called my first arrestee by his first name. They were happy and gave us no problems during booking.

My partner said to me, “Remember, they’re people and treat them with a little respect. They’re easier to book when happy.”

He also said, “Remember to use good officer safety tactics because even a drunk can be dangerous.”



Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Boy, that was close!

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Did you ever have an incident happen to you that made you think, boy, that was close? I’m sure that I’m not the only one who just barely escaped death. Soldiers from any of the recent conflicts could probably give you lots of incidents when they just missed being a sad memory. Well I’m living proof that you can survive an almost “Ah shit,” right here in America!


1983_Ford_Sierra_dashboard_(base_model)The closest I came was early one morning when Neil Diamond saved my life! I was working day watch and I liked to get my workout in before roll call. I would get up at 4 AM, shave, grab my lunch that my wife made me and get on the road. Now I only lived eleven miles from work so my commute was about 20 minutes. Very little traffic that time of the morning, mostly big rig trucks and few other knot-heads like me who start early. Oh, there were a few who were on their way home after a night on the town!


A semi-truck is in the #3 lane next to me. I’m about to cross under the 5 freeway when Neil Diamond comes on my truck radio. He was singing Brother Love’s a Travelling Salvation Show. I loved that song and turned up the volume. I was in a better mood and hoping for a good workout.


Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond


I’ve been driving this route to work for about 30 years and know that the #3 lane next to me funnels into my lane around the corner. I figure I’ll move over 1 lane so the semi-truck will have a lane to move into. It saved my life. I no sooner changed lanes when a car driving the wrong way comes around the corner and passes between the semi and me. I didn’t even have time to swear. I look over at the semi driver and his eyes were as big as mine. My heart was pounding and I figured my workout will never top the blood now flowing through my veins.


I never heard if he crashed or was caught but, even now, I always turn up Neil Diamond on the radio.


This was not a lifesaving event but then you never know. I was driving a plain detectives’ car but we were in full uniform. We were chasing the prostitutes on Sunset Boulevard. We had stopped at the intersection of Sunset and La Brea, in the left turn lane, heading for a cup of Winchell’s coffee. The light turned green and we waited for on-coming traffic to clear.


I suddenly heard a car racing up behind me! I look in the rear-view mirror and see this large sedan barreling toward our rear bumper. I only have time to yell to Randy, my partner, “hold on.”

At the last instance, the car swerved to the left just missing our rear bumper. The sedan slammed into another car head-on going the other way. The crash sent car debris flying all around us. I took a big breath and asked Randy, “you ok?”

Randy replies, “I think so.”

We get out of our car and check on the drivers. The sedan driver is DUI (drunk) and the other driver has moderate injuries. Boy, that was close for us!  I know of two other Hollywood officers who were rear ended by a drunk driver and had to be pensioned off with severe back injuries. I was too young for a pension!


The third incident happened when I was working a super-undercover assignment. We were plain clothes and worked the entire West Bureau of the LAPD. We had worked in Wilshire Division that night and just finished our shift.

LAPD Crown VicWe were standing in the parking lot of the Wilshire police Station and we were debriefing the nights activities.  Ok, we were standing behind the open trunk of a car drinking beer. That’s a big no no in the LAPD Manual. We had been debriefing for about one beer, oh, I mean 20 minutes when a shot rang out and whizzed past my head! We all ducked as a reaction but since the bullet has already missed us, a late response.

We don’t have a clue where the bullet came from and didn’t want to answer questions of why we were violating a department rule. We all got into our private vehicles drove home. I wonder who recovered the beer we left behind in the parking lot.

A day later one of our group asked a Wilshire officer about the shooter. He replied, “Yea, don’t hang around in the parking lot. There’s some nut who takes pot shots at cops every so often.”

My question was how could a LAPD police station allow someone to shoot at the police and ignore it?



Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Cop Dreams

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

sweet dreamsThink back to the days when you were very young.  Your mom or dad would put you in bed and maybe kiss you on the forehead and say, “have sweet dreams.” Why did they have to say dreams? You were afraid to go to sleep in your bed.  Some nights there were monsters under the bed or the monsters were in the closet. Didn’t matter—they were someplace in the room. You’d wake up screaming for your mom! If you had parents who never read Dr. Spock they might let you sleep in their bed for the night.

Flash forward a few years, now you’re in school and the monsters are gone but so are your pajamas, that’s right you’re naked in class. Who hasn’t had that dream?

You somehow reach adulthood and if you’re lucky you’re no longer naked in public. Now you’ve moved on to adult night mares. You wake up in the middle of the night asking yourself, did I pay the electric bill or what will they ask me at the IRS audit next week?  My point is that you will always have bad dreams!

cant sleepI’m about to describe some other bad dreams that sneak into what was supposed to be a restful night. That’s right cop dreams. Now, I don’t want some $300 dollar an hour doctor to analyze my dreams. I have enough things to think about when I lay my head on the pillow.

Early in my cop career, I had visions of bad guys trying to do me harm but one dream really stands out. I was in Hollywood just south of Hollywood Boulevard in a parking lot. I was chasing this dirt bag in a trench coat. I got within 50 feet of him when he suddenly turns and is now holding a machine gun. Oh, crap. I dive behind a parked car and make myself as small as I can behind the front wheel. Bullets are hitting the ground all around me. I suddenly have a shotgun. Don’t ask me to explain where it came from. I pump a shell into the chamber and without looking I reach around the front tire and fire off all five rounds at where I think the dirt bag is standing.



I’d love to tell you I filled the asshole with double OO buck from the shotgun but, no. I suddenly sat upright in my bed. My heart raced and I was sweating. I tried to reason—it’s  only a dream, but I really would rather have been naked at my high school prom! Guess how much sleep I got that night.

I had many cop dreams during my 35-year career. They usually involved not being able to run from danger and the worst were that my gun wouldn’t fire. It jammed or I couldn’t pull the trigger. Now, I didn’t have these every night or in my case sleeping during the day, but I still had them every so often.  I sometimes punctuated my dreams verbally. That’s right, I talked in my sleep or better said, I yelled. That usually woke up my wife and the dog, and it explained why the cat slept in the other room.

 man and wife sleepingAfter thirty-five years of sometimes violent encounters, I retired. I assumed that after a while the dreams would be replaced by dreams of retired old folks. Wrong! I’ve been retired for over 12 years and I still wake up punching my pillow or yelling out to halt! In these dreams, I sometimes have partners that I haven’t seen or talked to in decades.

 This upsets my wife and dog very much. I can now go back to sleep rather quickly but my wife tells me in rather stern terms that I need to sleep in another room. Sometimes she suggests I sleep in another county.

I asked around and found that most cops, retired or not, have these dreams.  You can take off your badge, and throw away those uniforms, you might even lose contact with old partners but the dreams will always come back. They’re deep inside of a cop’s head for life. You just never know when they’ll resurface!  


P.S. Do you still have cop dreams?

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Shoes in the Street

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Every once in a while, you see a news story of a pedestrian who is hit by a car. The TV news shows a pair of shoes in the street. I was first intrigued by why the shoes were left in the street. I sadly learned that when pedestrians were hit by a car they were actually knocked out of their shoes. This is my story of shoes in the street.

As always, I’m working grave yard and it’s about 2:15 AM. I’m driving my black and white eastbound on Hollywood Boulevard as I approach the famous hot dog stand at Hollywood and McCadden. The hot dog stand is famous only to Hollywood cops, bottom feeders and dispatchers. If you needed help and gave the location as the hot dog stand, the dispatcher knew where to send help. Prostitutes, drug dealers and anything else out after 2 A.M. frequent the hot dog stand to ply their trade or support someone else’s tax-free business. When I was walking my foot beat, I made most of my arrests around the hot dog stand. Some even bought the hot dogs, I hear they were pretty good. I never had one, Pink’s had a nicer clientele.

So, as I approach the cross walk I see a pedestrian, about a 20-year-old male, walking southbound. Now, I’m in the #2 lane (2nd lane from the center) which means the #1 lane is unobstructed. I could have gone through the crosswalk without interfering with the pedestrian but I thought this would be a good opportunity to yield and check out the patrons of the hot dog stand. I stopped and my attention was on one individual who seems particularly nervous. He could likely be a candidate for an investigation.

As the pedestrian continued to cross I suddenly hear a car to my left! I only had time to say “oh!” The car hit the pedestrian at about 30 miles an hour.

I’ve heard many stories that when encountering a stressful situation your brain slows everything down. I’m here to tell that is true. I saw the car hit this poor young boy and it was all in very slow motion. I still have that image of that boy being slingshot down Hollywood Boulevard, leaving his shoes in the crosswalk.

The car that just hit this kid immediately pulled to the curb. My partner went and got the driver out and I ran to the kid lying in the middle of the street. He was still alive but not responsive. He died soon after, right in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, his shoes left in the middle of the crosswalk.

My story should end right there but unfortunately it doesn’t. A few days, later I got a phone message from some lady I didn’t know. I called and it was the boy’s mother! She bluntly asked me, “Did my son say anything before he died?”
I lied and told her, “No he didn’t say anything. He died instantly and didn’t suffer.” I still think I made the right decision.

For quite a while after that night as I approached crosswalks I feverishly scanned for pedestrians. Fail to Yield to Pedestrians in a Crosswalk became my favorite ticket. A traffic unit handled the investigation and I never heard if the driver that hit the boy was drunk or what happened.

If there is a lesson to be learned, this is it. Even if you’re in a crosswalk, watch for traffic. I see people on the news all the time in marked crosswalks that have been hit by cars. It won’t make a bit of difference if you’re in the right of way but dead!

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Not Your Usual Strawberry

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

This is a story I wish I could present to teen age school kids. It might just discourage a few from drug use. The dictionary defines a “Strawberry” as a woman who trades or sells sex for crack cocaine! I don’t know what a male who does the same thing is called. I was working graveyard shift in Hollywood when we received a domestic dispute radio call. It was about 2:30 in the morning and we figured some man came home drunk after spending the rent money at the bar.

We couldn’t have been more wrong.

teacherThe apartment was an upper-scale building and I’d never had radio calls there before. We were met at the door by a male who stated, “Come in officers, I called you!” The man stated he and his wife had been married for over five years but the marriage was over. He pointed to an attractive well-dressed woman sitting on the couch. He said his wife was a school teacher and a very smart woman. He then said, “That is, until she tried crack cocaine at a party a while back. She now spends her entire pay check to support her habit. Now she’s removing household items and selling or trading them for more cocaine. She’s about to lose her job and I just can’t take it anymore.”
She had become a strawberry! I asked the wife if this was true, she nodded her head, yes. I could tell she was high on drugs. I gave the man the best advice that I could under the circumstances and wished him luck. A few months later I ran into the woman at Hollywood and Western. Yea, she was high and not even close to the attractive woman I had seen months earlier.


woman on meth
Okay, this woman was on meth, but you get the idea, right?

She told me her husband had thrown her out of the apartment and changed the locks. She was now living on the streets. A year later I got a radio call of a woman down in a doorway of the taco stand at Hollywood and Western. I stirred the woman awake and when she rolled over I was shocked to see it was the same school teacher. She was dirty and had open oozing sores on her arms. She had really gone downhill fast. She was barely coherent and had that vacant stare. I might have taken pity on her but I had seen too many follow the path to self-destruction by drugs. I wish I had a camera and took a picture of her that first day and a picture a year later. Showing it to kids, it might just save a few lives. I saw a lot of strawberries in my career but I never saw one fall this far this soon!




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Malice coverCop loc auth close up


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Movie Premieres

graumannsBy Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

I mentioned that I worked more movie premieres than Siskel and Ebert. All of them off duty—we needed the extra money to feed our growing kids and make sure they dressed in the latest clothes approved by their peers. It made for a long day but I liked meeting the tourists who were enjoying Hollywood for the first time. I loved asking where they were from and what their plans were for the rest of their trip. I laughed when one couple said they were going to Knott’s Berry Farm in the morning and Disneyland in the afternoon. I don’t know if they took my advice when I told them that each of those parks took an entire day.

I was working a premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. My favorite assignment was working the crowd behind the barricades. I wasn’t much of a movie star fan; I found most of them phony and pretty much into themselves. I sometimes would watch them turn the charm on and off when the cameras came on. I once saw a big star compliment another star on her gown, then turn away and stick her finger into her mouth as if to gag!

red carpet 2So I’m working this movie premiere and counting the hours until I can get off my feet. A young couple with 2 preteen-age kids approach me. With a Midwest accent ask, “Officer, do you know a good cheap place to get some hamburgers. We went to Hamburger Hamlet across the street but found it was over our budget.”

“Of course.” I asked where they were from and we exchanged stories of what to see and what was a waste of money. I was kind of a Hollywood Ambassador, right behind Johnny Grant!

in & outI then advised them the best hamburger in California was a mere 2 ½ blocks away. I directed them to walk down Orange Drive to the corner of Sunset and Orange. Yea, that’s right—In & Out Hamburgers. I suggested a Double/Double with grilled onions. They thanked me and walked away. I expected to never see them again.

 An hour and a half later I hear a voice coming from the crowd, “Oh, Officer. Oh, officer!” 

I turn around and there’s that Midwest couple. They waved me over and of course I’m very community minded. I know they have no power to vote on my next pay raise, so I walk up to them.

The mother was the spokesperson for the family and she wanted to thank me for the great advice. She said that In & Out was the best hamburger they ever had. She wanted to film me recommending In & Out to her friends back home. I declined stating that I felt like a dope pusher, knowing full well that they can’t get another In & Out Double/Double Hamburger where they lived.

To this day I hear from former LAPD cops who have moved out of state and when in Southern California the first place they eat at is In & Out.  (See picture,) eat your heart out! I imagine somewhere in the Midwest, there’s a couple telling their grandkids about the best hamburger they ever ate, way out in California.   



Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Survival Tactics

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Any cop worth his salt will tell you that deploying good police tactics will save you a lot of aggravation and probably save your life. The aggravation comes later from the after-action investigation. An example: you get in an Officer Involved Shooting (OIS). You survive and just as your breathing begins to return to normal, the investigation begins. Those that investigate will look at everything you did prior, during, and after the shooting. They’ll even check out how you qualified on the shooting range last month. They will pick apart–second by second–what you were thinking, what you and your partner said, and even if you had talked beforehand about what to do in a given circumstance. The people who finally judge your tactics usually have little or no police experience or haven’t been in a black and white since man walked on the moon! That would be the Chief of Police and the civilian Police Commission.  Either way, use good tactics and you survive to go home that day. You can also explain why you did what you did and why you made that decision in a split second. Ok, enough of my politics!
I was a rookie officer in Hollywood Division. I had about three months of real police experience as well as the volumes of training I received in the police academy. I’m working grave yard shift, (11PM to 7Am) and I’m the passenger officer. It’s about 2:30 A.M. and the bars have closed but Hollywood Boulevard is still packed with cars and pedestrians. A call comes out “Rape Just Occurred at Selma and Las Palmas. Suspect’s vehicle described as a dark 4-door sedan, partial license number JOE— and last seen northbound on Las Palmas toward Hollywood Boulevard. Two male white suspects armed with handguns.
We’re in the area and begin looking for the vehicle. The police gods were with us–the suspect’s car makes a turn right in front of us. He drives westbound on Hollywood Boulevard. We pull in behind him and broadcast that were following the rape suspect’s vehicle and request a backup. This was before the police department had helicopters. Hollywood Boulevard heads toward the hills after it crosses La Brea. We decide to make a felony car stop before they get in the hills. We activate our red lights and the suspect’s vehicle immediately pulls to the curb just west of La Brea.
I grab the Ithaca shotgun and exit the car. Department tactics teaches us to crouch down behind the police car door for cover. My adrenalin is surging through my veins and I’m sure the suspects can hear my heart pounding. I look to my right and there’s a large palm tree two feet away. Even as a rookie, I surmise that the palm tree is better cover than a Plymouth car door, bought by the city because it was the lowest bidder.
I move behind the palm tree and using police vernacular, “I jack a round into the chamber.” I slip my finger along the frame and take off the safety. The passenger suspect opens his car door and looks back at our police car.
He has his hands concealed in front of his body and with my best 22- year-old male voice, I yell, “Let me see your hands.”
He looks over at the palm tree and sees me with the shotgun. I’m guessing the barrel of the shotgun looked as big as a canon pointed at his head. He drops something on the floorboard and thrusts his empty hands out the door. We get the driver and passenger out of the vehicle and handcuff them. I searched the passenger side of the suspect’s vehicle. Lying on the floorboard is a loaded 45 cal. auto handgun.
I’m pretty sure my eyes were bigger than the barrel of my shotgun. Later at the station, I ask the passenger if he had planned to use the gun.  He looked me in the eye and coldly said, “I was going to try and shoot it out. I didn’t want to go back to prison! When I looked back at the police car, I didn’t see you. Then, when I saw you behind that big tree with the shotgun, I gave up!”
Later, when I taught tactics at training days I emphasized to look for better cover than a car door. Good tactics will save your life but once in a while you need a little luck!
Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Cops with Mustaches

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

If you stood 30 cops shoulder to shoulder, three-quarters of them would have a mustache. Hopefully none of them were female! Why? It’s not required and it’s a personal choice but for some. there’s a reason. When I came on the job, I didn’t have a mustache—never even thought of growing one. Good thing; probationers were not allowed to have a mustache unless his training officer and 7/8 of the watch said it was ok. You also weren’t allowed to wear short sleeve uniform shirts or combat boots until you had been around for a while. If you tried to wear these items you were called salty and given a stern lecture. You might even find yourself working station security every time it rained.

If you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and survived you probably were in the hippy period. I remember when the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan with their long hair. Yea, I’m that old. I thought, “They’ll never last.” Most of my favorite bands had clean cut hair and wore suits with thin ties! Well, we saw the hippies wearing long hair but they weren’t cops.  A lot of cops’ pre-police photos show long hair and sometimes outrageous mustaches. Once on the job, you had a very strict dress code: close-cut hair, side burns that couldn’t be lower than your ear canal. We had regular inspections and it was not unusual for an officer to be told to get a haircut.

There were also strict guidelines for mustaches. They had to be neatly trimmed and could not extend past the corner of your mouth. We were some of the best dressed cops in the nation. I used to shudder when I saw pictures of cops from back east. They had long hair and mustaches that made you think of a motorcycle gang. Now days some departments allow beards and goatees. Not my style.

So why did I grow a mustache? It was simple. I joined the Los Angeles Police Department at the ripe old age of 21. I was thin and still produced a face pimple now and then. I kept my hair short from my academy days. I didn’t grow a mustache to be one of the guys but I grew a mustache to be taken seriously.

I once went on a radio call and the PR (Person Reporting) was an elderly woman.  As I was interviewing her she stopped me in mid-sentence and asked me, “Are you old enough to be a cop?”

I assured her that yes, I was old enough and told her I was married with a son.
She said, “How Sweet.” But I got the feeling she thought I had just come from my high school prom! It wasn’t the first time I had been asked that question.Another time I was in a bar during a robbery investigation and the bartender asked me rather sarcastically, “Are you old enough to be in a bar.” I replied I was old enough to arrest him! I wasn’t generally a smart ass but I got tired of that question.

That was it. I had just three years on the job and I was on vacation. I have a whole month off. I’m going to grow a mustache, just for kicks. My wife’s vote just barely lost in a closely-contested campaign. I grew my mustache just before my daughter’s birth. To this day, she’s never seen me without a mustache.

Funny, I never again was asked if I’m old enough to be a cop! I also haven’t had a face pimple since 1973! I’ve made up for my youthful appearance in my later years. I no longer get asked if I qualify for the senior citizen discount. My mustache has turned grey but I keep it trimmed. It now grows past the corner of my mouth but then the inspections conducted by my wife are rare and less restrictive.

When did you grow a mustache? Male replies only.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: A Weird Co-worker

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Did you ever have a co-worker who was just weird? No matter how hard you tried, you just couldn’t find a common ground. The individual I’m about to describe was that type of officer. I’ll call him Jeff. I don’t think that I ever worked a patrol shift with Jeff but I was around him enough to know he was different. Jeff didn’t get along with anyone he worked with. You think spending Thanksgiving dinner at your in-laws is a long day; try spending eight hours in a police car with Jeff! He was so difficult that officers volunteered to work the desk or jail to avoid spending time with him.

night ops with the copsEvery so often a police division will loan an officer to another division for a special assignment. If that loan becomes a permanent transfer, they must transfer another officer back. That’s were Jeff comes in. Rampart Division owed us an officer and, just like Fidel Castro, they didn’t give us the cream of the crop. In fact, they gave us Jeff. Now, the short time Jeff was assigned to Hollywood he made quite a reputation for himself. No one wanted to work with Jeff.

I recall two incidents where Jeff called in sick for work. One day, Jeff said he was stung by a bee and couldn’t report for work. Maybe Jeff was allergic to bees. Ok, that’s plausible but the next day at work Jeff couldn’t remember where he was stung. Another time he called in sick saying that he was getting married. Short romance was our guess and we were dying to see who would marry him. Sure enough—Jeff showed up at work the next day still single. Some guessed that Jeff’s bride deflated!

Well as luck would have it we owed an officer to Northeast Division and guess who was at the top of our list? That was the good news. The bad news was that I lived in Northeast Division. Jeff would be protecting me from crime at my house.  I figured that there was slim chance that I’d ever run into Jeff but I was wrong.  Well not exactly. My wife is a good driver and has only gotten one ticket in her entire time driving. Yes, you guessed right, Jeff gave it to her.

cop car in rear viewJeff stopped my wife for speeding. Actually, she was going five mph over the posted speed limit. Now, in my 35 year career I’ve stopped about a dozen police officers for traffic violations. I never wrote one a ticket; the same for firemen. You called it professional courtesy. I have been stopped three times, once in Texas, and never had a ticket. Well my wife mentions my name to Jeff. 

Jeff says, “Oh yea. I know Hal.” Jeff wrote her a ticket. We paid the ticket without complaint.

Some nights when I have trouble sleeping, I think of Jeff. I wonder if he’s still a cop, did he ever get married, or just maybe one of those bees actually stung him! 




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