By Hal Collier, retired LAPD
I spent 15 months as a new sergeant in Watts. I don’t recall one bomb threat or suspicious package call. I returned to Hollywood division and my second day back we had a bomb threat call. It could be me the threats were directed at! Here’s some more.
CBS news was located in Hollywood at Sunset and Gower. Every night near the end of the 11:00 o’clock news they would air an editorial and some critic would phone in a bomb
threat at the station. My first response after roll call was to CBS. We’d search the news room area but never found anything suspicious. We’d take a bomb threat crime report and head for coffee—it’s going to be a long night. We also got to know the staff and newscasters on a first name basis.
A side note Dr. George Fischbeck was the weatherman at ABC in Hollywood. Every night around 11:45 PM he would stop at the strip mall at Hollywood and Taft. We were drinking coffee from, yes, a donut shop, and he stopped at the 7-11. He would then walk over to us cops to say hi.
I’d ask, “Dr. George, what’s the weather for tomorrow?”
His reply was always the same, “I don’t know. I only read that crap on TV.”
Fast forward to 1984. The Olympics have come to Los Angeles and the police department is on high alert. Things are going smoothly and I’m eating code 7 at the Denny’s at Sunset and Gower. I walk out to my police car and get in the driver’s seat. Just before I turn the ignition key, I notice a small object on the windshield wiper. I get out and notice it’s about a 3” X 5” package and wrapped in Christmas paper.
It’s July! Typical of most cops I look around for another cop playing a practical joke on me. Next, I get down on one knee and look for a bigger bomb. Nothing! I called the bomb squad—my momma raised a hero but not a fool.
The bomb squad responded and inspected the package. They x-rayed the bundle and then opened it. It was a small bible! Maybe the person who left it figured I needed a little religion or then again it could have been a test. I apologized to the Bomb Squad technician. His name was Ronald Ball. He was later killed diffusing a pipe bomb. He told me don’t ever apologize, always call us. I did from then on! He told me that if it was a bomb it was big enough to blow off my hand!
I already told of the time I walked into the police parking lot at start of watch to get my cruiser. In between the front seat was a hand grenade. It was later determined to be a dud but I wasn’t prepared to take a chance without first checking my horoscope. The previous watch found it in a parking lot and forgot to book it. They knew it was a dud. They got two ass-chewing’s—one from me and my partner and another from the LAPD brass.
Being Hollywood just about every big story was covered by the media. We handled a lot of bomb threat calls and most were false. There was a radio station at Sunset and Argyle, it was right across the street from the world famous Hollywood Palladium. We would get a bomb threat at the radio station and set up our command post in the Palladium parking lot across the street. After the third threat a bomb squad officer told us that the threats could be to see where we set up our command post. Then plant a real bomb in the parking lot and take out a lot of first responders. I think my next command post will be at Pinks.
The last Ramblings bomb threats will cover a few more bomb threats and 9/11.