Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Vell Vhat You Vant to Do Now?

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.


192px-Zsa_Zsa_Gabor_-_1959So 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!

Jardinette_Apartments,_Los_AngelesThe 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.”

police officerI 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!”

Uh oh.

“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!” 

AdobeStock_102706188I’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?  


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: The Mistress

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

It’s taken me a long time to write about this subject and I don’t think I’ll have my wife read it before I send it out. I met my wife in high school and we fell in love. We were married a couple of years after graduation. I never thought I would love anything more than my wife, maybe not more but just as much. I was young and I guess a fool! How can you have two loves and still be faithful? The temptations are out there and they come in many forms. I was strong for quite a while and then I fell in love again. I was still in love with my wife but I fell for one of those temptations that come up in your life. I call it my second love!


Now before you delete this and take me off your Christmas card list let me explain. My “mistress” was the Los Angeles Police Department!


Let that sink in for a minute. How can work be a mistress that consumes and dominates your life for over three decades?  If you don’t understand then you’ve never been a cop. Being a cop gets into your blood—somewhat like a cancer but there is no known cure. Once you hooked you might as well just go for the ride, and by the way, hold on, it’s a roller coaster.


You’ll work long hours, weekends, holidays, miss your kids’ school plays, football games and that special event that your wife told you about six months ago. You’ll work at night and sleep in the day time. You’ll eat breakfast for both meals—that is, if you get two meals in the same day. You communicate with your wife with Post-it’s on the refrigerator. Your dog begins to growl at you when you come home late or early. You’ll ask your wife, “Honey, how long have our kids had braces on their teeth?”


Somehow through all this you fall in love with the job. You see horrific things that may scar you for life. You will have days were you smile all the way home and can’t wait to share your story with your other love. You remember the highs and the lows and often dream about them. It doesn’t matter, by now you’re hooked, you’re an addict. Non-police friends and family will never understand and question why. They wonder at the things you think are funny. You don’t care—you’re in love and your favorite line is, “I can’t believe they pay us to have this much fun.”


What’s the big temptation? You work long hours often in the dark, sometimes alone. You meet a lot of interesting people and some of them are lonely, looking for companionship. Sometimes, it’s your partner. Your diet is the exact opposite of what you learned in health class. By the way, I’ve never seen a cop eat a kale salad on the hood of his police car during a barricaded suspect call out. If someone had a kale salad they hid it from the rest of us. The ribbing would be unbearable!


How many people watch their kids grow up to be responsible adults and are proud? As a training officer, I had a new probationer every few months. Some gave me enormous headaches but occasionally you could see the light come on and you knew they were going to be ok.  Some later thanked you for bringing them along.


As a cop, you don’t make acquaintances, you make lifelong friends. You may not see them for a few years but there still close friends. There will always be that bond that other jobs don’t develop. You’re going to hit speed bumps along the way but you’ll never turn your back on something you love.


So just what is it that makes you love a job with so many downsides?  Why do people go on roller coaster rides, or watch scary movies? Who stands in a hour line to ride the Matterhorn at Disneyland?  Being a cop gives you the same adrenalin rush whether you want it or not. Try hurtling through the streets during rush hour traffic to catch a suspect that a judge will give probation to as a sentence! Stake out a location for hours and when your suspect arrives you lose him. That will eat at you for years! The other side of that coin is catching the suspect you have been trying to catch for weeks. Other rewards are a simple handshake or hug. I once helped a little old lady and she shook my hand. Her hands were crippled with arthritis. She then went home a wrote me a hand written note to thank me. That’s why we love our job. Young kids still love cops and often wave, later maybe only with one finger?


Being a cop, you feel the anger when a fellow police officer is shot or injured even when you didn’t know them. You never really retire. You take the badge and gun off but it’s too late. It’s inside you, that cancer that will be with you until you die. Most of us say we miss the people but not the job. B.S. we miss the job too. Some of us will outlive our wives but never our Mistress!


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