By Hal Collier
Hal is a thirty-five year veteran of LAPD. We are pleased he is sharing his stories with us.
The following stories are true to the best of my memory, which is suspect at best. I sometimes sit down at the computer and think of an amusing incident that occurred and write it down in my bullets (like normal people use a list—Thonie). When I pick a subject I go over my bullets and see if any will fit into my Ramblings. These are short and didn’t seem to fit into a story. Anyway, here goes.
One night my partner, Bill Barren (RIP) and I were assigned to a Z-car. A Z-car means you don’t have radio calls and you can go out and look for bad guys all night long. It means you can go elephant hunting as we use to say. Just big time bad guys, no traffic warrants, drunks, or petty thefts. When assigned to a Z-car you want to show the Watch Commander that he made the right choice in picking you for this pinnacle of assignments in patrol. You stop everything that moves; you even skip coffee breaks and eating.
This night there wasn’t any crime in Hollywood. Ok, none that we could find. About 6 A.M. we’re getting desperate. We see this car on a dark side street with a license plate light out. We stop the car hoping to find a body in the trunk or a back seat full of stolen property. We get the driver out, a young black man, and ask for his driver’s license.
As he’s flipping through his wallet I see him pass by a California driver’s license and then produce another California driver’s license. His license say’s his name is Cleophus Whitehead and he’s 18 years old. Ha ha, we got him; I’ll bet he’s wanted in three states. I ask to see the other driver’s license. He produces it. Same picture, same address, but the name is Rene Whitehead and he’s now 21 year’s old, and of drinking age. Of course, I ask him, “Who’s license is this?”
Ok, you think you’re ready for the answer. He says with a straight face, “It’s my brother. It’s the only picture I have of him.” I fall back against my police car laughing. Bill hunches his shoulders and says, “I give up, let’s go eat.” I give both licenses back to Mr. Whitehead and send him on his way. No elephants tonight. You can’t make this stuff up.
It’s a nice quiet Sunday morning and I’m the assistant Watch Commander. Yea I’m working day watch. I get a call from Tony Diaz, a great cop and now a detective assigned to Homicide. Tony asks me if the janitor has emptied the trash cans in the detective’s room this weekend? Huh, I haven’t a clue and should I know what the janitors schedule is?
I reverse the scenario; I interrogate the detective. “Ok Tony, what’s up?.” Tony tells me the following story. He got into an argument with Russ Custer (RIP), the OIC of Homicide, on Friday afternoon. During the argument, Tony took off his badge and threw it in the trashcan, proclaiming, “I quit!” Tony was always getting into arguments with Russ and they soon made up over drinks after work. I suspect they were alcoholic drinks.
Cool, I got a confession with one question. Tony tells me he went home and didn’t remember until Sunday morning that he left his badge in the trash can.
I ask, “Tony, are you asking me to go through the trash cans, looking for your badge?” Tony hems and haws. Oh yea I’ve got him, but Tony doesn’t have anything I want. I don’t need a plea bargain, or a get out of jail free card. Yet. I also haven’t given Tony his Miranda Rights, so his confession is no good in court. Tony says he’ll wait while I go look. I tell Tony I’m pretty busy, I’ll have to call him back when I get a chance. This is so bizarre, a patrol cop sweating a homicide Detective. This is more fun than the time my captain asked if I had a key to his office for the third time.
I like Tony, so I go back into the detective room. I dig through the trashcan that Tony described and I find the badge. I call him back and make a ransom demand. Tony laughs and tells me where to put his badge. Tony got his badge back and I got this story.
Have you ever been driving around and you see people driving with their dog in their laps standing looking out the driver’s window? We’re driving down Hollywood Boulevard about sunrise and stopped at a red light. I love dogs but I don’t think that dogs belong in the drivers lap. I’m the passenger and I look to my right. There’s a 60+ year old man in the car next to me. On the headrest is something close to a large rat or a very small dog. Yea I said on the headrest, right behind the drivers head. The dog or whatever it was, is giving me that mad dog look. I’m bored and we’ve had a bad night.
I stare at the dog and pretend to be barking at the dog. The real dog goes berserk, jumping around and barking. The dog dislodges the driver’s hairpiece. Now tell me that wouldn’t make you laugh. I start laughing so hard my partner thinks I’ve lost my mind. The driver looks over at me and gives me that I hope you’re not getting a raise this year. When the light turns green, he drives off with a yapping rat and a dislodged hair piece.
It’s hard to believe they paid us for doing this job!