By Hal Collier, LAPD, Retired
Hal is a thirty-five year veteran of LAPD. We are pleased he is sharing his stories with us.
Here we go again. Another short story, then a story about a Hollywood character. You might notice that I refer to these people as “characters” instead of “nuts”. That’s because I’m still politically correct on occasion. Hollywood was full of characters; some had crossed over the line and into the classification of long-sleeved jackets with straps and buckles on the cuffs. Some were on the border—only one missed dose of medication away from the aforementioned jacket.
Others just were amusing. Some were great training for your brand new probationer—you know the cop who still lives with his mother at home and believes that all people are good. If he gets the chance, he will change their lives around. Some cops mature at different times, and some never mature. Ladies, you’re welcome.
I used to think that the characters in Hollywood had a roll call just like the cops. They would meet at some unknown location and the head character (Watch Commander-like) would call roll. Then he would pass out assignments. The assignments might go something like this:
“Billy, you stand outside the Pantages Theater and when the show lets out, take off all your clothes, and kiss all the women with grey hair.”
They might even have an awards show at the end of the year, like the Academy Awards. Best Performance During a Police Tactical Alert, Longest Talk with a Negotiator, Most Cops with Ruined Uniforms During a Resisting Arrest Use of Force. How about having a cop give you a pat down search after you have urinated in your pants or defecating in the back seat of a police car? Those were always award winners.
Ok, you get the picture. Characters all come to Hollywood and wait until the cops are really busy then they go to work.
This first story is about a radio call that I handled that was pretty funny at the time. We got a call “Unknown Trouble” at an apartment building on Laurel Avenue. It’s about 3 AM and we knock on the door. This elderly lady opens the door and tells us to talk in a whisper.
“What’s the problem?” I whisper.
“The people who moved in upstairs are Russian spies and their listening to our conversation right now.”
I ask, “How do you know?”
I wink at my partner and ask, “Why would the Russians be listening into your apartment.”
She says, “My deceased husband was in the army in Europe, during WW ll.”
We look around the apartment and I give her the usual cop out line, “OK, we’ll check it out.” We’re heading for the door when we hear the “Beep.”
Oh, shit what if she’s not nuts!
We look around the apartment again and then I hear the beep again. It’s her smoke alarm. I tell her she needs to replace the battery and her problem will be solved. As we leave, she wants to know if we’ll still check out the Russians. I tell her, “Yea, we’ll put a stakeout on them but you won’t be able to see them. Our stakeout teams are very good.”
She thanks us. Those damn Russians!
Hollywood Characters: Jack Brooks
Just about every cop who worked Hollywood knows Jack Brooks by one name or another. Jack was also known as Big Jack. He was about 6′ 8″ and wore a size 14 shoe. He was also known as the “Missing Link.” Jack had a protruding forehead, which was prominent due to his large head, similar to a Neanderthal. Before you write a nasty note about my being insensitive, you should see Jack. Jack had three teeth, none of which touched each other.
If a training officer had a height deficient probationer, he would stop Jack and have the probationer conduct the search. The probationer would tell Jack to put his hands on his head to conduct a pat down search. At 6′ 8”, the probationer couldn’t reach Jack’s hands to conduct the search as taught in the police academy. Before you call the ACLU, Jack was in on the search and freely cooperated. The academy later changed search techniques for shorter officers.
Jack loved the cops and was rumored to have helped some cops in a fight. I knew of one cop who gave Jack money every so often. Jack was not a problem, except that he was a peeping tom. Jack would sleep in a park during the day and walk the streets at night. I was once working a stakeout for a complaint of a peeping tom. Jack was the suspect. I felt that I was well hidden until Jack came walking up behind us and asked, “What’s up officers?”
I had a pretty good relationship with Jack until I caught him looking into an apartment bathroom window at night. I arrested Jack and he refused to speak to me for five years. Jack would talk to other officers but purposely ignore me. Later when I was a Senior Lead Officer, I was having a business burglary problem at the Crossroads of the World. One business owner asked me if I knew of a homeless man who might sleep on the property and watch the businesses and he would pay him. I thought of Big Jack. Hell, he used to sleep at the Catholic Church next door. I sent Jack over to talk to the owner. The owner gave Jack $20 up front. Jack never showed up. The next time I saw Jack I told him that was the last time I’ll help him.
Up until I retired, I would see Big Jack walking around Hollywood. He might still be out there. I’m sure other Hollywood officers have stories about Big Jack.