Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Motor Cops, part 1

By Hal Collier

I usually only write my Ramblings about an incident where I was present or got from numerous reliable sources.  This Ramblings is different.  Some of the incidents I observed and others were passed on to me from former partners.  After writing this, I sent them to my sources for corrections and verifications.  This is what I came up with.
LAPD Motor Officer
LAPD Motor Officer

I sent out a survey to former motor cops and some of these observations are theirs and others are mine.  I never wanted to ride a police motorcycle, or for that matter any motorcycle on a city street.  When I was in high school, I had a friend who quit the baseball team and the next day he was in a bad motorcycle accident and lost his leg.  I have dirt bikes that both my son and I ride.  Your chances of survival hitting a pucker bush were better than crashing into a parked car or other fixed object.

Police motor cops are a different breed.  It doesn’t matter what police agency you work for.  It doesn’t matter how big or how small your department is, they’re just different than other cops.  Some smaller departments have a rotation system.  You ride motors for six months then you work patrol for six months, then maybe a stint as a detective.  LAPD motor cops are there because they want to or they have a fear of dying in their original skin.  The LAPD Motor Officer School is very difficult. It weeds out the casual weekend rider.  A flunked-out motor cop once described LAPD motor school: they give you a mouth full of marbles.  Every time you dump your motorcycle in school you spit out a marble.  When you lose all your marbles, you’re a LAPD motor cop.
In high school, I worked at a hamburger restaurant that was owned by Ivan, a LAPD motorcycle cop. They are called BCMC, “Big City Motor Cops.” He told

LAPD Officer crash southbound 110 in South LA, Nov. 2010
LAPD Officer crash southbound 110 in South LA, Nov. 2010. More than a “dust-up”. Click on the photo, wait for the stupid ad, then watch the news video.

me that all motor cops “go down”, cop vernacular for having an accident.  Ivan told me it was a matter of when and how bad.  Robbie, another BCMC called them “dust offs” for non-serious accidents. “Dust-off” means you get up, dust off your uniform and don’t report it.  The LAPD motor officers wore a tie bar that had the number of years you didn’t have a reported accident.  It was a motor cops badge of honor. Hell, I’ll admit I used to look at the number of years myself.

They have their own ideas of what is important as far as police enforcement.  Most motor cops would rather arrest a drunk driver than a bank robber.  They think twice before giving up a good ticket to go to a robbery in progress radio call.  Once, I was walking a footbeat when a motor cop asked for a back up.  I ran four blocks down Hollywood Boulevard to assist this motor cop.  As I rounded the corner, the cop was leaning against a parking meter as a heated family dispute was going on in the street.  He wasn’t going to step in until they committed a traffic violation.  On the other hand, I’ve seen motor cops driving on Hollywood Boulevard sidewalks clearing pedestrians with the siren responding to a officers request for back up.  It was right out of a movie.
Ed Meckle recalls two motor cops who stopped a jay walker.  While one officer wrote the ticket, the second officer saw a man hobble out of a jewelry store, gagged and his hands duct-taped.  Their jay walker had just robbed the jewelry store but the officers were upset that they would lose hours of ticket writing.  They gave the the robbery suspect his ticket as they closed the cell door.
Some motor cops that I knew were a little crazy. Yea, I thought of better words but crazy fit the best.  Kathy described a motor cop named Lee who would put a traffic cone on his helmet as he drove up and down the street in front of the station. Lee would also put his helmet on backwards and sing “I’m a love machine” while dancing around the Hollywood Station Lobby.
One of the Garcia brothers would drive up and down Hollywood Boulevard at night with his siren blaring and he would put his boots on the pavement.  The sparks would fly off the taps on his heels.  That was always a crowd pleaser.  Pat  told of Bob Fiacco who smoked cigars all the time.  When he got off his motor to write a ticket he would put his cigar on the mic cord.  If he forgot about the cigar it would burn through the cord.  He carried spare mic cords in his saddle bags.  If crazy doesn’t fit these guys than I am.
I was working fire escort during the last few days of the 1991 LA Riots.  The Department and politicians called it civil unrest, but I was on the streets and nothing was civil about what happened.  (See my Ramblings Riots Trilogy – coming soon.)  So I’m sitting in the fire station waiting for the next call when a motor cop comes in.  He removes his shirt and gun belt, plops down in the large air craft seats that the firemen use for watching TV.  A few minutes later two more motor cops enter and the same thing happens. Soon there’s ten motor cops in various stages of undress.  I later learned that motor cops always hide from their supervisors in fire stations for a break.   Craig said that he was conducting escort duty for President Reagan and stopped at a fire station during a break.  The firemen filled his helmet with shaving cream.  
My next Ramblings I’ll talk about other motor cops that made me laugh and some that made me cry.   Hal

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