The Call Box

The Call Box: My Short Kidnapping Career

By Ed Meckle, retired LAPD

The 1970’s were known as the “Golden Age of Terrorism” even more so than today. With 9840 incidents with 7000 dead worldwide, the responsibles were the Black Guerrilla Army, Black September, Red Army, Irish Republican Army, Symbionese Liberation Army and on and on.


It’s 1974 in LA and the Patty Hearst media frenzy is in full swing: where is she? She is here, she is there, she is everywhere, she is nowhere. She has become “Tania” posing with the seven-headed cobra.


Except for an aborted attempt by mobster Mickey Cohen to run a con on the Hearst Family, we have managed to stay away from the circus—until now.


“We” are the Organized Crime Intelligence Division (OCID) of the Los Angeles Police Department. I have been assigned here since 1969. I am a lieutenant in my 18th year with the department. It is a very good assignment. No—actually, it is a great assignment and I not only love it, but I am very good at what I do.

My immediate boss is Captain Don E. Miller. He is serious, smart and pretty much by the book. I am now standing in front of his desk as he utters thes seven words, “They want you to kidnap Otis Chandler.”


I am seldom at a loss for words but managed, “Who is ‘they’?”


“They,” it turned out, is Ed Davis, the Chief of Police. During a “working lunch” with Otis Chandler and their respective staffs, the subject of Patty Hearst’s kidnapping, terrorism, assassination, etc. came up and Davis warned Chandler he could be a likely target. Chandler wouldn’t hear of it and boasted of his security at the Times Building.


I now assumed that Davis wanted to prove him wrong and assert “bragging rights.”


Let me explain who Otis Chandler is: since 1960 he has been the publisher of the LA Times, with the largest circulation west of the Mississippi. He is also one of the most powerful men on the west coast.

I asked, “Does the chief want me/us to get inside the fortress (Times Building), find and confront Chandler and do a “Gotcha?”


“Yes, and you can’t use police ID. Also, can you do it tomorrow?”


For some strange reason, the motto of the Seabees came to mind, “The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.”


As I sat at my desk I formulated a ridiculous plan that just might work.


More to follow—


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: LA Olympics, part 2

By Hal Collier

The following story is true.  In my last Ramblings, I dealt with the some of the planning and my assignments during the 1984 Olympics in L.A.  Now let’s get down to what really went on at the Olympics!!  My three days were all at the Athletes Village at UCLA and it was before the competition started.

My first night at the Village, I was assigned to a perimeter car.  We were given a map of the village and where each fence monitor was located.  Fence monitors set off an alarm if anything touched the fence.  The first 3 hours we raced around to see if terrorists were infiltrating the village like they did in Munich in 1972.  We expected to encounter Black September members at every fence activation.  After the first fifteen false alarms, the adrenaline subsided.  We spent most of the night checking out false alarms at the fence.  Early in the morning, the athletes would get on buses to go to their training sites.  We were told not to give rides to the athletes, but what the hell, everyone did.  It was like feeding a stray cat once you started, they all wanted a ride.

1984 US Womens Olympic Shooting Team
1984 US Olympic Shooting Team

We were flagged down by two young British female athletes.  They were competing in the shooting events, first year for females in an Olympics.  We gave them a ride to their bus.  They wanted to know if we had any pins to trade.  Pin trading was a huge phenomenon at the 1984 Olympics.  I think everyone was trading Olympic pins, except me.  There were rumors that sex was offered for an LAPD badge.  The LAPD buttons on my uniform were highly wanted.  Just for the record I have both my badge and all my buttons, it’s my marbles that are missing.

My first night wasn’t that bad, they even fed us a hot meal, not a box lunch.  I’m thinking maybe I should have signed up for more days.  Then day two came.  The athlete’s buses would enter the village through the front gate and drop off the athletes.  The buses would then drive down a hill and pass the athletic field and exit the village.  My post was sitting on a metal folding chair next to the field.  As the buses would pass me they revved their engines and create a cloud of diesel exhaust.  I’m guessing the bus drivers were not pro-police.  This night sucked.  No one to talk to, no female athletes offering to trade pins, but I still got a hot meal and cash overtime, twelve hours at time and a half.

My third night I was apprehensive. Will this be another night from hell or filled with pleasant memories?  I was assigned to the back gate where athletes would walk in and be screened.  I think the purpose was that no one would smuggle in guns, bombs, or maybe some other contraband.  They had those bag screeners like you see at the airport and wands for the athletes.

I think this was my best day.  I was assigned to a screener who enjoyed her work and we would exchange pleasantries with a lot of athletes.  I couldn’t believe some of the American crap they were bringing into the village.  I saw an athlete who was really proud of a felt painting of a bull, I guess the Elvis paintings were all sold out.

Jose Cuervo Tequila photo courtesy of the beverage store
Jose Cuervo Tequila
photo courtesy of the beverage store

A lot of liquor, mostly tequila, Jose Cuervo, if I remember correctly.  For my younger readers, buy stock in tequila companies if L.A. has another Olympics.  I thought these athletes were in training.  I also saw a lot of Levi jeans, of course that was 27 years ago and who knows what will sell now, probably I-Pads or Bluetooth’s.

It was a fun night and the night flew bye.  As I said before, this was pre-competition and I guess the athletes didn’t have a curfew.  They streamed in all night.  I’ll bet the athletes that practiced shooting didn’t do very well.   Another hot meal and cash overtime.  I’ve really enjoy my three days at the Village but now I have to go back to Patrol for the next few weeks.

Next episode is about things you didn’t read in the newspapers. They were just covering the Olympic events and the athletes.


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