By Hal Collier
The story you are about to read is true. In my last Ramblings I talked about my worst foot pursuit. If you remember, it involved slipping on ice plant, being clothes-lined, stepping in a rose bush and getting my hand smashed by the door of a police car. I laugh when I watch cop shows on TV. They are always running in good light, the cops take a short cut that leads to a tackle of the bad guy. They never ruin a new uniform, which in the old days we paid for out of our own pocket. The officers almost never lose a foot pursuit or get hurt and other police cars show up within seconds to assist. All false. The reality is that your often alone, running in the dark, through terrain that only a fool would attempt.
In my early years I was not a fast runner but I could run longer than a cheetah. I would usually outlast the hypes and high school gym dropouts that I was chasing. I used to brag that I never lost a foot pursuit. That lasted about 6 years. Then one night the inevitable happened.
My partner and I received a radio call of a car stripper in a car port. We made the usual stealth approach, car lights out, radio turned down, car doors cracked. As we approached the carport the suspect saw us. He bolted southbound through the apartment buildings. I’m confident that I’ll have him in custody in a short time. I’m also sure that my partner, a heavy smoker, is right behind me.
We bound over a short wall behind the apartment building and run between two other apartments. We zig zag between some parked cars as we cross the next street and run up the driveway of another apartment building. He’s got a pretty good lead but I’ve never lost a foot pursuit. I look over my shoulder–my partner is not behind me. We run up a driveway and over another short fence. I hear my partner; he’s in our car on the street we crossed ten seconds ago. We cross another street and head up a driveway of a house. In the back yard, the suspect jumps over a six foot wood fence. As I approach the fence, I slip on something. I’ll bet it’s from a dog. I get up and start to put my hands on the top of the fence. I stop. The fence is spiked with nails, all pointing up. I’m not jumping over a fence with nails to catch a dirt bag that some judge will give probation as a sentence. I’m either getting older or smarter.
My partner is one block north of me, as well as the helicopter and other policemen. They’re looking for me. This was before we had radios on our belts. I look at the top of the fence, it’s got blood and some clothing stuck to the nails. Ha, ha, he’ll pay for running from me. For the next few weeks I looked at every dirt bag hands to see if he had puncture wounds.
I also had some foot pursuits that were pretty funny after they were over. We’re responding to a radio call of a crazy man in the middle of Sunset Boulevard, west of La Brea. We see him in the middle of the street. We stop our police car in the middle of Sunset and order the nut to put his hands up. I notice right away he’s a Democrat, because he gives us a one finger wave and runs northbound. We broadcast that we’re in foot pursuit and chase him. In the old days the only radio we had was attached to the car.
The suspect runs into a house–ok, not into the house like through a door but into the side of the house. He bounces off the house, turns around and runs southbound down Formosa Avenue. My partner is about ten feet behind me, another smoker. The suspect goes about a hundred feet down the middle of Formosa and runs around a parked car and heads northbound.
He’s now heading right at my partner. My partner swings his plastic flashlight at the suspect missing his head and hitting him on the shoulder. My partner forgot his nightstick in the car. The flashlight comes apart, I step on one of his batteries and land on my ass. I’m pissed. The suspect runs westbound through an alley behind a strip club which just happens to be letting out.
Ok, we’ve changed directions twice since my original broadcast. I can hear the police cars and helicopter looking for us but they’re a block north of us. I’m about thirty feet behind the bad guy and I see some patrons of the strip club. I yell at them as I run past, “Call the police and tell them which direction we’re going.” I hear one of them say, “Aren’t they the police?” What do you expect from a guy coming out of a strip club in Hollywood? The suspect runs southbound on Alta Vista on the sidewalk when I see something I’ve never seen before. A guy in a Porsche pulls across the sidewalk blocking our suspect’s path.
The suspect makes a U-turn and runs right at me. Ok, I have my nightstick. I carried a 5 cell sportsman flashlight, good for light but not for hitting someone. Kept me out of trouble that other officers got into that carried Kel-lites. A Kel-lite was a metal flashlight which was sometimes used as a club.
As he nears me I raise my stick high and when he put his hands up to fight, I lower my stick and whack him across his legs just below the knees. He goes down immediately. We get him handcuffed and I look up to see the guy in the Porsche drive away. He’s giving us a thumbs up.
I look at my partner and ask “Who was that masked man?” We walked our suspect back up to Sunset where a Sergeant says, “Where the hell have you been?” He says you were supposed to be north of Sunset. I look the Sergeant in the eye and tell him, “I guess our nut lost his script.”
That’s right he was crazy as a loon. You guess, if I’m talking about the Sergeant or the suspect.