Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: LA Olympics, part 3


By Hal Collier

This is the the final installment of my experiences during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.  The stories are true and only first names will be used.  My three days working at the Village are over and I’m back to working patrol.  I’m still working twelve hours shifts, which means fifteen hour days away from home.


1984 Olympics  photo by business week
1984 Olympics
photo by business week

The competition is about to start and the TV stations are warming up for hours of coverage.  I’m going to miss most of the coverage.  I’m either going to be sleeping or working, with the exception of my days off.  I saw less of the 84 Olympics than any Olympics since I was 12.  A shame since it was in my own town.


Some good things came from the Olympic Villages.  The Department was concerned about terrorists so they placed sharpshooters, Counter Assault Teams, (CAT) on the roof tops throughout the village.  Now, most were men sitting on the roofs with a high-powered rifle, equipped with a scope and a radio.  They would sit up there for hours with nothing to do but look for trouble.


They found it looking into the windows of the dorms.  They soon learned which dorms held the women athletes.  Ok, they weren’t exactly peeping toms, but some of the European female athletes are accustomed to walking around naked.  Thank god the Russian and East Germans boycotted these Olympics.  Have you ever seen a naked female East German athlete!  If an officer observed a scantily dressed female athlete, he would radio to his partner on the next rooftop.


The problem came when the first officer tried to pinpoint to the second officer which window to look into.  The dorms were 12 to 15 stories high and 7 to 12 windows wide.  One officer devised a system.  Count down from the top and left to right.  3 down and 2 to the left meant, 3 floors down from the top and 2 to the left.  Brilliant isn’t it.  I’ll bet that officer never promoted, he was bred to be a street cop.  This system was later used and taught at the police academy to locate bad guys.  3 down and 2 to the right, I’ll bet you never read that in the L.A. Times did you.


The nights seemed long due to the lack of radio calls.  The citizens either didn’t call in the chronic noise complaints or our communication division did take them.  Either way we had plenty of time to drive around and wave.  I was lucky, I worked most nights with Chuck, another old timer.  Chuck and I would eat on the hood and use our lunch break to jog.  Eating on the hood meant a Pinks hot dog or some other fast food that we ate on the hood of our police car. A well learned clue, eat after you jog, especially Pinks.  Sometime during the middle of the night we would change into our workout clothes and go for a 3 1/2 mile run.  Chuck carried a 2″ revolver in a sock for protection. Those terrorists are everywhere.


We were allotted 1 hour for our lunch break.  One night a Sergeant approached us and said we took 65 minutes for lunch and that wasn’t acceptable. He was another building boy on his way up the chain of command.  We told him we could skip a shower after our run if he wanted, but he decided that 5 minutes was not that big of a problem.


Drunk Drag Queen  photo by
Drunk Drag Queen
photo by

I vividly remember an incident on Santa Monica near Western.  A call came out about a 390/415 women.  That’s drunk and disturbing the peace.  We’re close and respond.  Standing in the middle of Santa Monica in front of Sherries Restaurant is a drunk drag queen.  He has a beer bottle in his hand and is yelling obscenities at everyone.  The restaurant patrons have a free floor show, no cover charge.


I get out of our police car and order him to drop the bottle.  He says something about my family heritage as I approach.  I’m either going to knock the bottle out of his hand or knock him to the ground.  As I get closer I hear a popping noise and see the queen fall to the ground.  Chuck tased him from just behind me.  End of problem.  Chuck had the nick name of “Sparkey.”


The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics were a huge success.  The city made a lot of money, the media praised the LAPD for its handling of the Olympics.  It was a true highlight for the men and women of my police department.


The only dark spot was when a Metro officer, Jimmy Pearson, tried to be a hero by removing a bomb from an athlete’s bus at LAX.  The only problem was that he placed the bomb on the bus to gain attention to himself.


Lean years would follow for the LAPD with the media beating us up until the North Hollywood Bank shootout.  That was when everyone really got to see live on TV what cops do, we run to the gun fire when everyone else is running away.


Olympic Village pin photo by ebay
Olympic Village pin
photo by ebay

Anybody want to buy some Olympic pins?  I found out my dad had collected some.


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