By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
My apologies for posting this and Hal’s last in the wrong order. This should have been “Foot Beat Stories One” and his previous post should have gone second. I promise I’ll do better with “Foot Beat Three” and Four. –Thonie
The following story is true and most of the officers are real live cops, some are legends and some fall into the infamous category. I often say the best of all my jobs on the LAPD was when I worked a Hollywood Boulevard foot beat. That’s not easy to say: I was a Sergeant for 12 years, a Senior Lead, (Community Relations Officer) for 11 years—both good jobs but my 3 1/2 years as a foot beat officer were the best.
Most of the names are real Hollywood cops and most of the stories are true. Some were passed down by other Hollywood cops and they might be legends. That’s in case some ACLU attorney is looking for a civil rights violation.
The foot beat cop of the 50″s 60’s & early 70’s were the toughest cops in the division. They ruled their beat with an iron fist, with the emphasis on fist. They didn’t have radios. If they got in a fight, they won or lost their life. Foot beat cops walked their area every day and knew the store owners, pimps, drug dealers and pan handlers all by name and those same people all knew his name. If a store owner was having a problem with an individual he would tell the foot beat cop and the problem disappeared, don’t ask me how.
If you ever watched the TV series “The Blue Knight” or read the Wambaugh novel, that was a tame version of what a foot beat cop was.
First the legends of Hollywood foot beat cops: Gene Fogerty. I didn’t know Gene very well and never worked with him. He was the typical old time foot beat cop. He ruled Hollywood Boulevard and no one had any doubts who’s boulevard it was. I was told that Gene never paid for anything. He ate for free, shopped in the boulevard stores and walked out saying “foot beat gratuity.” Those days were gone when I came on. We were told in the academy that a free cup of coffee led to corrupt cops. Come on, my standards are higher than 10 cents, the price of a coffee in 1971. Throw in a glazed donut and I might consider a bribe. Just kidding, I was never big on eating donuts.
One of Fogerty’s regular partners was Jim Conrad, a former boxer. Together they handled anything and everything. I was once told that a street person walked up behind Conrad and tapped him on the shoulder. Conrad felt the guy was too close to his gun, spun around and knocked him out cold. Police work in the 60’s was a lot different.
As you already know and are tired of hearing, is that I worked Morning Watch for the first 14 years I was on the job. That’s 11:30 PM to 7 AM. I only saw the Mid PM foot beat for a few hours before they went home.
In 1977, Hollywood Boulevard was out of control on Morning Watch after 2 A.M. We had two businesses in the area of Hollywood & Highland, that were open all night. The “International Hot Dog Stand” known by all cops as just the hot dog stand and “Danielle’s.” The hot dog stand was just that, a small hot dog stand, but it was open all night and behind it was a dark parking lot perfect for dealing drugs or any other crime you can think of. Danielle’s was a coffee shop which catered to drag queens as we called them in the un-politically correct ‘70’s. I always thought it curious that Marilyn Monroe’s star was right in front of Danielle’s, a drag queen hangout. Danielle’s is now a McDonalds’.
The drag queens would eat at Danielle’s, then go to work on Highland. By work I don’t mean that they were setting out traffic cones for Cal-Trans, they were collecting money for a service for which they paid no taxes or Social Security. A Drag Queen’s overhead was the cost of their clothes and whatever they stuffed into their bras, usually yesterday’s dirty socks. No kidding.
Anyway when the rest of Los Angeles closed up, Hollywood and Highland was just starting to go strong. I approached my Lieutenant and asked if he ever considered a Morning Watch foot beat? He cocked his head to the side, somewhat like my dog does when I talk to her, and he asks, “What did you have in mind?” I laid out my plan and the following month I was told I would be working a Morning Watch foot beat. I was then asked who I wanted to work with. Holy cow, I was never ever asked who I wanted to work with.
I selected Randy for my partner. Now Randy was not the easiest cop to work with. In fact half the cops on the watch didn’t like Randy and he felt the same about them. I picked Randy because he worked. All I needed to do was keep him on a short, tight leash.
Most people think that walking a foot beat is just walking along and watching for crime. I thought so, too. I was told that I needed some foot beat experience. Let’s see: I have 7 years on the LAPD and I’ve been walking since I was around one. My childhood records have been sealed so I’m guessing.
The next month I’m going to be assigned to work a Mid Day foot beat. Mid Day, that’s when the sun and all those citizens who pay my salary are out. Crap. I going to learn foot beat techniques from a Hollywood Legend, J.J. Brown. J.J. took over the the Mid Day foot beat when Fogerty retired. J.J. had been walking a foot beat since before I was a rookie. This should be fun. Next chapter, I’m learning how to walk all over again.