By Hal Collier, retired LAPD

In my last Ramblings, I couldn’t find another officer who needed help when I was on loan to another division. This time I got lost looking for a whole police station. In November of 1980, Sarai Ribicoff, niece of US Senator Abraham Ribicoff was shot and killed during a street robbery in front of a restaurant in Venice Division. Sarai was also an editor for the LA Herald Examiner newspaper, so the murder was carried on the news for weeks.


A few weeks later, nine employees and two customers at a Bob’s Big Boy in West LA Division were herded into a walk-in freezer and shot-gunned during a robbery. Three died and several others were wounded. These all occurred in LAPD’s West Bureau which included West LA, Venice, Wilshire, and my Hollywood division.


Due to the continuing publicity, the West Bureau Deputy Chief formed a special squad of cops who were handpicked to combat the senseless crimes. They picked two officers from the four Bureau divisions and two other officers to even out the squad. 

I was one of the officers from Hollywood. 

We were to be called the Operation West Bureau (OWB) Violent Crime Task Force or OWB-VCTF. We were strictly plain clothes. Haircuts were optional as well as shaving. We kind of looked like the dirt bags we were hunting.

I’ll go into more detail of the OWB-VCTF in a later Ramblings.


So here we are working the four divisions of West Bureau. I’m again out of my comfort zone, except when we worked Hollywood. A couple of times we were assigned to work with Narcotics Division on Buy Bust operations. The Venice boardwalk was a prime location for buying drugs.

“Prime” means easy.


This particular Saturday, we were looking for bad guys. We had a female officer with us. She was wearing roller skates, as was common among the locals on the boardwalk. We weren’t supposed to buy narcotics but it was hard to resist an easy arrest. She made a buy and we sat the dope dealer in the back seat of the plain car I was driving. I headed to Venice Station when I realized I’ve never been there before. I asked my partner, “Do you know where Venice Station is?”

He was also an old-time Hollywood cop.  He said, “No.”


Our arrestee said, “Geez I got arrested by a couple of rookies.” I tried to tell him we were handpicked but he just laughed. Then in a sarcastic voice he told us the directions to the station.

We were embarrassed but never told this story until now!