By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
The year was late 1984 or early 1985. I remember because it was around that time that I bought new underwear. Just kidding. It was because I got stupid and promoted to Policeman 3+1 and had to leave my beloved AM watch (graveyard). A 3+1 is a community relations officer but don’t misunderstand, I still worked patrol every day and I was assigned to train probationers. I had to attend neighbor watch meetings and had meetings with my captain. Funny thing, when I was on AM watch I was just a senior officer with over 14 years on the job and no one ever asked my opinion on crime or policy. I promote to 3+1 and I’m suddenly asked for my solution to crime problems. I even was invited to supervisor meetings. I was now included as a member of the Hollywood Training Cadre. Maybe I got smart overnight.
So I’m working PM watch (4PM to midnight) with a probationer who was known as “Zsa Zsa.” She was called Zsa Zsa because she was born in Hungary and had a very thick accent. She would often be heard saying to her partner, “Vell vhat you vant to do now?” Cute the first few times but after hearing it every few minutes it got real old!
I’m working a watch (PMs) I hate and I’m assigned to work with Zsa Zsa. All this for a 5% pay raise. I should have been ordered to submit to a mental evaluation exam. About four hours into the watch we get a man with a gun call, possible barricaded suspect.
Oh good. Maybe I can talk to someone other than Zsa Zsa, even if he has a gun!
The location is a two story apartment building with a courtyard in between. The PR (person reporting) says the guy with the gun is drunk and has been yelling at kids in the neighborhood. The suspect also speaks broken English.
No problem. So does my partner, just from different continents.
My PR has an apartment right across the courtyard from my suspect and is on the second floor. My suspect is on the ground floor. I make my way into the PR’s apt and look out his living room window. I’m looking right down into the suspect’s apartment. Perfect! I have a visual on my suspect and I have the high ground. I also notice numerous empty Budweiser cans in the apartment. I left Zsa Zsa with another officer to try and keep the media out of my crime scene.
I think things are going pretty good when my lieutenant shows up. Now this lieutenant is a good guy and he lets me be in charge. Most lieutenants wanted to screw up your crime scene until it goes sideways then it’s all your fault.
The PR says to me, “Do you want his phone number?”
Uh what do you think? “Hell, yes.”
I call my drunk suspect and in broken English we talk. He is very drunk but speaks enough English to communicate that he means no harm. I use my best crisis negotiations training and tell him, “Hey stupido, put your gun down on the floor and come outside with your hands up!”
He hesitates, so I use my ace in the hole card. “Listen if you don’t come out I’ll call SWAT and they will lob tear gas into your apartment and that might even start a fire.”
He says, “Give me a minute to go to the bathroom.” Now, I’m a community relations officer and concerned with quality of life issues. I told him to go pee then come out.
I’m running downstairs as he’s coming outside. He’s ordered into a prone position on the grass in the front yard. This is going great. I approach and handcuff this desperado. He’s then taken to the closest police car.
My chest is really puffed out as my lieutenant approaches me. He says, “Hal, that was really good police work, but I have to tell you something!”
“Did you know that when you were handcuffing the suspect your probationer, Zsa Zsa, was pointing a shotgun at your back? You might want to talk to her!”
I’m now speechless.
Zsa Zsa and I took the long way back to the station and we had one of those one person talking conversations, in plain English! My written probationer evaluation for Zsa Zsa that day was longer than the arrest report.
Zsa Zsa made probation and was transferred to a valley division. I heard she later resigned from the department. In 1993, she was arrested and convicted for stalking a well-known news weatherman.
Vel vhat you vant to do now?