By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired
We are happy that 35-year veteran Hal Collier is sharing his ‘stories behind the badge’ with us.
More Dave Balleweg
Another chapter of Dave Balleweg, a true Hollywood Character: The following stories are true unless there’s a civil rights violation, then I made them up. I only worked with Dave for about seven years but we’ve been good friends for over thirty-seven. Some of these stories are from other Ramblings.
Dave and I worked a radio car for a while but then landed a job as a speeder/SPU car. We dealt with the large population of methamphetamine abusers in Hollywood and the crimes they committed. We also addressed the crime problems of our watch. This included many stake-outs.
Stake-outs on TV are fun. The star sits in a warm car eating a donut and drinking designer coffee with that sissy sleeve. In less than one minute the suspect commits a crime and the officers make the arrest and go home on time. If there’s a foot chase the officers run through well-lit streets and alleys, jump over four foot fences and catch the bad guy in seconds.
Most real street cops laugh. After a foot pursuit which can last blocks, the officer is out of breath, he’s stepped in dog shit, ripped a clean uniform and lost his police car keys in front of an asshole bar two blocks ago.
Most stake-outs involve hours and even days of watching before a crime is committed that’s worth chasing a dirt bag. When sitting on a roof or in a car you get bored and that’s when cops are most dangerous. They look for things to amuse themselves.
One of first stake outs with Dave involved sitting on the roof of the Pantages Theater in Hollywood in December. Our latest intelligence (a Ouija board, sometimes pronounced Weeji) said the parking lot guys were breaking into cars while the show was in progress. We climbed up twelve stories to the roof and settled in for a long night. The wind is blowing from the north and it’s cold. No problem, my lovely wife made us a thermos of coffee. No wait. There is a problem. My wife doesn’t drink coffee and when we poured out a cup, it was thicker than that crude oil that came out of that well in the gulf.
I have to pee. No problem. Dave and I pee in the water trough for the air conditioning unit. I later conducted a scientific experiment. If you spit chewing tobacco off a twelve-story building it will parachute half way down and ruin your accuracy, but you hit more cars. On the other hand my wife’s coffee dropped like a Russian satellite. The only crime we saw involved employees from Capital Records who had their Christmas Party. Now that parking lot was busy.
The next night we got an office in the Capital Records building. It overlooked the same parking lot and was a lot warmer. Dave is sitting in some executive’s leather chair and I’m looking out the window. We already changed the radio station to Country Music and I hear Dave on the phone. That’s right Dave called the radio station and had a Johnny Cash song dedicated to Dave and Hal, LAPD, on a stake-out. True story.
It was some time in the winter. Dave and I got a call to meet another car in the back parking lot of a known dirt-bag hotel (Vine Lodge). We figured they needed our expertise with some speeder.
We pulled into the parking lot and the officers were standing at the back of their open car trunk. We got out and walked toward them. We were immediately pelted with snowballs. That’s right–snowballs in Hollywood. Ok, picture this—four LAPD officers running around a parking lot in the middle of the night, having a snowball fight. The officers found the snow on a car in the Hollywood hills. They took some and set up an ambush for us. We all laughed and decided the lieutenant should not miss out in the fun. Dave and I went to the station and coaxed the ell-tee to come outside. As soon as he exited the back door he was pelted with snowballs. He thought this was great fun and didn’t want his Assistant Watch Commander (A W/C) to miss out.
The ell-tee walked into the Watch Commanders Office, past the A W/C and closed the door. The A W/C looked up then turned toward us as we walked through the other door. He was suspicious because we all had our hands behind our backs. He jumped up and tried to go through the door the lieutenant was holding closed from the other side. The A W/C was pelted with eight snowballs. We cleaned up the best we could but the custodian wanted to know how the carpet got so wet. Non-cop friends might think this is juvenile, but it relieves the stress and improved morale. Beside how many can say they had a snow ball fight in Los Angeles, let alone in the Hollywood Watch Commanders Office?
Next, court, and a few characters Dave enriched with his wisdom. Hal