By Hal Collier
December 7. A day that will live in infamy! No, not that fateful day in 1941 but that day in 1981. I know what you’re saying, Hal has lost his mind, nothing eventful happened on December 7, 1981. Well, it did for me and all LAPD cops. That was the day that Jack Myers and Ron Venegas, LAPD cops, were arrested for committing burglaries on duty in uniform in Hollywood.
This Ramblings has taken a long time to write and I still find it hard to talk about it 3 decades later. This was as personnel as losing a partner and attending his funeral. I still feel the pain.
Ok, a little background. As you probably know by now, I worked Hollywood Patrol for 33 years of my career. I took pride in my being a LAPD cop and Hollywood being one of the best police divisions. I busted my butt to keep crime down and earn the respect of the citizens who paid my salary.
I also had a lot of fun and many days I couldn’t believe that they were paying me. If you didn’t have fun in this job you were doing it wrong and headed for one of those coats with long sleeves that tied in the back!
The following opinions are mine alone and certainly differ from those of the LAPD Command Staff. I was there. It happened all around me and I didn’t need a blue ribbon panel to tell me how it happened. That is, after it was discovered.
First, let me give you my opinion of the two main players. Jack Myers was a senior officer. I wasn’t fond of Jack and didn’t care for his style of police work. Ron Venegas was a very likable officer and popular among the Morning Watch Officers and Supervisors. Jack and Ron both played softball with the watch in Griffith Park on Sundays mornings. I knew Ron’s wife and kids by name and even attended a Christmas party at Ron’s house.
As I related earlier I was working a Morning Watch Foot Beat when the watch commander told me that they were disbanding the foot beat to make room for a new Burglary Alarm car. It was called the “Code 30” car. They would respond to all burglary alarms, of which in Hollywood there were many. The officers picked were Jack Myers and Ron Venegas. I’m guessing that sometime down the road the LAPD found that decision a major disaster. Venegas and Myers were close friends who both lived in Simi Valley. They worked movie jobs off duty together and I’ll bet they considered themselves good partners!
I was assigned back to my patrol car and my area was Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards with most of the major Hollywood businesses. I began to notice an increase in business burglaries in my area. I was an addict of reading the Daily Occurrence or D/O sheet. The D/O sheet listed all the crimes that occurred the day prior. I paid particular attention to crimes in my area and looked for patterns that might lead to an arrest.
So every day I’d sit in roll call and ignore the Watch Commanders speech on how the brass was going to make my job easier and study the D/O sheet. I raced to every business burglar alarm call in my area. I drove down dark alleys with lights out. Sometimes I’d park and just listen for the sound of breaking glass. I was getting frustrated and my watch commander was wondering what I was doing all night. There has to be a clue that I’m missing!
I once took a report at Lido Cleaners, a dry cleaners, where most of Hollywood Division and I had their uniforms cleaned. They were the victim of a burglary and cash was taken. Ok, this is getting personal.
I don’t know when the burglaries started but I’ll never forget the day they ended. Part 2, I’ll talk about the aftermath of those arrests. Hal