By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired
We are happy that 35-year veteran Hal Collier is sharing his ‘stories behind the badge’ with us.
One night, my partner, Bill and I were bored and happened to be driving through Ferndale Park. Ferndale Park is on the fringe of Hollywood in the foothills below the Hollywood Sign. It is common to see deer, coyotes, raccoons, opossums and owls in the Hollywood Hills. I was driving and Bill suddenly yelled to stop. I slammed on the brakes and put my hand on my gun. We both exited the car, I’m looking for a crime, Bill is getting a pair of work gloves from the trunk of the police car. Next thing I know we’re running through the park in pursuit. Bill is in the lead because I don’t know what we’re chasing.
I soon spot the culprit, it’s a possum. Bill grabs it by the tail and holds it away, careful of its snarling teeth. I’m waiting for the adrenalin to stop rushing through my body. I’m a somewhat educated man, so I ask Bill, “What the hell are you going to do with that?” Bill replies, “Open the trunk.” Bill drops the possum in the trunk and slammed it closed. Bill directs me to the back of a supermarket, where we rummage through cardboard boxes and crates. Bill finds the perfect animal container. I recognize it as a wood crate with wire, used to hold red cabbage for delivery. My previous job was delivering produce. I might need my old job if we get caught. It takes twenty minutes to get the possum out from behind the spare tire and into the crate.
Bill lets me in on to his plan. We have a lieutenant, who is not a building boy. He completes the necessary paperwork, to keep the captain off his back then goes into the field. Street cops love this kind of leadership. We’re going to get a set of keys to the lieutenant’s car and place the crated possum on the front seat. My role was to delay the lieutenant until Bill could get the possum in the car.
I met the lieutenant at the back door and told him I need a day off. He said he had to get out of the station and to see him later. He walked out to his car as Bill was walking in. I think we got away with it.
Bill and I watched as he opened the driver’s door. We could see him looking across the car interior at the crate. By now that possum is a snarling fur ball ready to bite though the crate. The lieutenant tells Bill and me that if we ever want to have a weekend off again, to get that oversized rat out of his car.
Now before you call PETA or the SPCA we took the possum back to Ferndale Park and released him.
P.S. The lieutenant got even about two weeks later. He called us into the station on a rainy night and told us to put on our old uniforms and boots. There’s a major mudslide in the Hollywood Hills and we need to check for survivors. We were half changed when the lieutenant got on the station P.A. system and said “Pay back is a bitch”.