By Hal Collier
The story you are about to read is true, the names have been changed to protect the embarrassed. As usual I will call my accomplices by first name only. This should be my last rookie mistakes story, unless I have an epiphany. Ok, how many of you are looking up the definition of epiphany? Webster defines it as “a moment of revelation or insight.” See, I already improved your quality of life.
I was on probation and my training officer, Joe, was a Jedi Master of reading people. He could read body language and tell if a person was carrying a gun or about to run. During interviews he could tell if a person was lying. His favorite trick was to ask a question with his hand on the suspect’s heart, males only of course. It was kind of like a hand lie detector. If the suspect’s heart was racing, he was lying. As all good training officers, Joe was trying to teach me the fine art of reading suspects.
During a pedestrian stop, Joe told me to place my hand over the suspect’s heart and see if he was lying. As a green rookie, I did as I was told. Joe asked a few questions and then asked me what I thought. I replied, “Cigarettes, Lucky Strikes, I think”. My hand was over a pocket on the suspect’s shirt, which did in fact hold a package of cigarettes. They were Camels. I guess I’m going to need more training.
We had a new lieutenant who was pretty proud of his new rank. This wasn’t anything new with some. All they needed was a good lesson in humility[TH1] . There was this lady in the station who was hysterical. She was screaming and all the efforts of the police officers to calm her down were in vain. Our new lieutenant said maybe if she had a lieutenant talk to her she would be reasonable. The lieutenant said “Hi, I’m Lieutenant Doug.” The lady kicked Lieutenant Doug right between the legs. The officers came to the lieutenant’s rescue, but I think some had a smile on their faces.
In 1976, the old Hollywood station was scheduled to be torn down. We would move into an interim station a half a block away. I was light duty due to a broken ankle which I broke playing basketball. Anyway, I was assigned to Detectives on Day Watch. I answered phones, distributed crime reports and was a gopher boy. On a bright sunny Saturday, I was on the second floor of the old Hollywood Station. I didn’t mind Saturdays because the detectives were all off and I had the bureau to myself. Some slow Saturdays I would change chairs of Detectives who gave me a hard time. Don’t screw with a bored cop!
I answered the occasional phone call from a citizen and read teletypes. I noticed that the phones had stopped ringing and things seem rather quiet. I saw one of the phone lights, light up and I picked up the phone. I heard the old time desk officer answer the phone. I asked why he was answering the detectives’ phones and he said because they all moved to the interim station. I went downstairs and found all the doors locked and a sign directing people to the new station down the street. I’m not sure whose rookie mistake that was but I had the distinction of being the last officer to actually work in the old Hollywood Station.
After a few years we were set to move into the new Hollywood Station. They had a big new men’s locker room with over 400 lockers. A bathroom, showers and a weight room. There was even a running track on the roof. They needed to assign the 300 or so officers to their new lockers. They gave the assignment to a brand new rookie sergeant. I’m sure this new sergeant wanted to do a good job but lacked the foresight to accomplish his mission. He assigned all of A.M. Watch to the first two rows of lockers. That’s about 40 officers all trying to dress at the same time in the same 2 rows of lockers. The locker rows were as crowded as a shower on a cruise ship. If you’ve ever been on a cruise you know how small the showers are.
Cooler heads prevailed and the officers from all the watches were spread out. That probably saved the sergeant’s life and career.
During the fun days of the L.A.P.D. practical jokes were a way of dealing with stress. Now days a practical joke is considered racial, sexual or gender bias. I guess we’re all lucky to have retired with our pensions.
We had a sergeant who thought more of his personnel motorcycle then he did of the working officers under his command. I made the mistake of parking my police car right next to the back door. I had a Hollywood nut case who was handcuffed and hog tied. That’s feet bound up so he doesn’t mule kick you or the back window of the police car. We will have to carry him to our car. The sergeant arrives at work and wants us to move our car so he can park his motorcycle. I explained my dilemma, but he wasn’t impressed.
I spent the next few weeks putting a small puddle of oil under his motorcycle. I even put some on the bottom of his motor. I wonder how long it took him to figure out his motorcycle didn’t have a leak? Your tax dollars at work.