By Hal Collier LAPD, Retired
We are happy that 35-year veteran Hal Collier is sharing his ‘stories behind the badge’ with us.
This is going to be a long character story so I won’t start with a couple of short cop stories, but then most of what I’m about to write about is short stories. Some of the stories have been included in other Ramblings but most are worth repeating. A few I’m going to tell for the first time because the statute of limitations has run out and Dave is retiring from his last job in Oklahoma. That’s right: Dave Balleweg
A little history. Dave Balleweg transferred to Hollywood in 1975, during the Massage Parlor crackdown. I’m not sure which side he was on, pro or con for the massage parlors.
Dave worked Wilshire Division before coming to Hollywood. He use to work PM watch and then go to radio station KGBS at midnight and work as a disc jockey for 6 hours. He would stay after to listen to the radio team of Hudson & Landry, an underrated comedy team.
Dave has the personality that charms people. All the years I worked with Dave, we never had to fight a suspect into jail. He even got suspects to come to the station and turn themselves in. One female hype, Dee, came to the station on Thanksgiving, with a turkey in the oven. Others he had arrested, called Dave to snitch on other hypes. Dave’s sense of humor will show itself in the following stories.
I’m working Morning Watch. Yea, oh-dark-thirty to sunrise. I walk into the roll call room at start of watch and the first thing I notice is someone is sitting in my seat. That’s right Dave is sitting in my spot. I’m not superstitious about sitting in a certain seat. I knew one cop, Stan, who thought he would be gunned down if he didn’t sit in his regular seat.
Bet you thought all cops were sane.
Now, I’m not an old timer, with only 5 years’ experience, but then we have a pecking order and I do have some seniority. Dave is senior to me so I sit right behind him so I can keep an eye on him. The next night I beat him into roll call and sat in my seat, welcome to Hollywood, Dave. Ha ha.
A few days later we were assigned to work together. We hit it right off, it was love at second sight. After work that night my ribs hurt from laughing for 8 hours. For the next 7 years we sat next to each other in roll call.
Now after 35 years on the LAPD, I’ve worked with a lot of partners, some good, and some bad. Some made 8 hours seem like an 18 hour day, others the time flew by. I was fortunate to work with some great partners who became lifelong friends. Most of my stories are from working with friends not partners. For my non-cop friends, cops develop strong bonds with their partners. They spend long hours riding around and talking. Then, in an instant they are fighting for their lives or protecting each other from harm. It can be a strange relationship.
I had a lot of fun experiences with Dave and most would never make a TV cop show—no one would believe them. One night in the late 70’s, it rained harder than it has ever rained in Los Angeles. Streets flooded and Laurel Canyon turned into a river. Cars and people were swept away. I wasn’t working with Dave that night. I was assigned to a damage control car as the city went on Tactical Alert. I was asked to check on Dave and his partner, Dale, who were directing traffic at Mulholland and Laurel Canyon—and had been there for 6 hours. I snaked my up to their location. By now, all the cops are wet. Our blue wool uniforms are soaked and we smell like a wet dog, our underwear and t-shirts have a blue tint from our uniforms. I drive up and there are Dave and Dale in the middle of Mulholland and Laurel Canyon. They’re skipping around and singing like sailors. I learned that the actor, Paul Michael Glaser, had given the officers a bottle of brandy. It was the good stuff too.
The next night Dave and I are working a damage control car. We’re checking on residences that had to be evacuated due to mud slide damage, see if barricades are in place on closed streets, etc. Cahuenga East is flooded and barricades were placed in order to keep cars from driving into 5 feet of water. Dave and I drive up and see the roof of a submerged car.
There’s a man bobbing in and out of the driver’s window. Our detailed investigation revealed the man was a Sheriff’s Lieutenant, who had been at a club in North Hollywood and was taking a younger lady to her house for a nightcap.
Some kids moved the barricades as a joke and watched as the lieutenant drove into ‘Lake Cahuenga’ as Dave named it. The lieutenant was bobbing for the lady’s purse. We got the lieutenant’s car pulled out and drove his lady friend home. The lieutenant’s main concern was that the story didn’t get out to his co-workers. We promised silence, but two days later the lieutenant asked to meet us at Lake Cahuenga. He ratted on himself and his friends proclaimed him Commandant of Lake Cahuenga. He tried to bribe us with 2 bottles of Cognac.
Part-2 next week will have more Dave Balleweg stories.