By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
Have you ever been lost? Maybe you were in a strange town or even country; you refused to ask for directions regardless of how many times your spouse begged you. This Ramblings is not about that. This is about a call for police service and the cops can’t find the location. You might have a Hollywood Division street guide but it’s only good for Hollywood. The Thomas Guide they gave you in the academy has mold from being in the bottom of your equipment bag in the trunk of your police car. It might even have some Pinks chili on it.
As you probably know I spent thirty-three years working Hollywood Division and I hardly ever got lost. Well, only a couple of times but I had an excuse. I had a rule, “don’t go south of Beverly Boulevard,” Hollywood’s southern boundary. One time I was assigned a radio call of a “screaming woman” in Southwest Division. The call was at 52nd and Crenshaw, Southwest Division was two divisions away and wasn’t even in my Bureau. I had a vague idea of where 52nd & Crenshaw was—about sixty blocks south of my present location.
No problem. I know a short cut. I’ll take La Brea south past the area known as the “Jungle” (known for anti-police residents) over Baldwin Hills and turn east before I hit Inglewood. I missed the left at Slauson Avenue and soon found myself in Inglewood. I was only a short distance from Randy’s Donuts, but I have an emergency call first. I back-tracked and eventually got to the call. Of course, the call was at least forty-five minutes old and I couldn’t find the screaming woman. I took the long way back to Hollywood and got a cup of coffee, no donuts. Good thing I filled the gas tank at start of watch. Every once in a while, you would get a call in a different bureau but that just means no cops were available in the adjoining four divisions. Scary, huh?
Loans: Every division has Christmas parties, summer picnics and divisional inspections. On a sad note, if an officer dies in the line of duty the entire division attends the funeral. These events all required loans from other divisions to handle patrol duties during the incident. I was often loaned to outside divisions, both as a cop and as a sergeant. I hated it. I was in a strange environment and out of my comfort zone. I didn’t know what alleys were safe to pee in or where to eat that the help won’t spit on your food. The fact of the matter was, you were going to get assigned to a division you were unfamiliar with.
Webster defines lost as: being in an unknown location. I always knew where I was, I just didn’t know where I was going!