Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Characters, Jimmy Long Stick

The following stories are true to the best of my memory which is considered good. That’s because I still remember to wear my own underwear and shave with the black razor not the pink one. The character is alive, retired and living under an assumed name in Idaho. Bud Arce, aka “Jimmy Long Stick.”

First, my stories.

I’m sure that most cops have been fooled by crooks but they won’t admit it to anyone. Well, I was fooled a few times but I tried not to be fooled twice by the same con.

It’s Saturday night, we see a car full of gang members conduct a California rolling stop. For my non police friends that’s rolling through a stop sign. Whatever it’s called, it’s probable cause to stop the car and see what these hombres are up to. Before the liberal courts limited what officers could do on a traffic stop, this was a free ticket to get everybody out of the car, search them for weapons and check them all for warrants. So we figure we have a good catch.

Most cops are out hunting elephants (big game) not a traffic ticket. We stop the car and the driver immediately tells us, “The guys with the guns just turned the corner. If you hurry you can catch them. They are driving a blue Chevy.”

Oh shit, bad guys with guns? We got to catch them. We jump back into our cruiser and speed around the corner. Two blocks later we figure we’ve been screwed. I had visions of these gang members driving around, laughing at the dumb cops who are chasing non-existent crooks. I spent months looking for their car.

To my credit, it was tried a half dozen other times, but I only chased the phantom men with guns once. “Bird in the hand better than two in the bush.”

Here’s a story that still haunts me.  I’m driving eastbound on Virginia Avenue from Western. It about 3 A.M. and Virginia turns into Oxford. This northbound VW comes around the corner and almost hits us. Shit, I make a quick U-turn and watch as the VW turns southbound into an alley. Damn, he’s trying to lose us. I turn into the alley and see the VW only 250 feet ahead of us. OK, we got him now!  I watch as the VW glances off a telephone pole and continues southbound. The alley runs into Flemish Lane. I’m closing and arrest is certain. The VW is slowing down and about to cross Santa Monica Boulevard.  I was relieved when it clears cross traffic and rolls up a driveway into a parking lot. The VW crashes into a parked car. We stop behind the VW and order the driver out. No response. We approach and discover the VW is now empty.

I look at my partner and he has the same “Aw shit” look on his face that I have. The driver must have bailed out in the alley before we turned into it. The suspect jumped out while it was moving and it continued through the alley and across Santa Monica Boulevard. The VW was stolen, so we have a Recovered Vehicle Report, a Traffic Accident report at two locations: once when it hit the telephone pole and the second collision when it hit the parked car. That’s it, we’re done for the rest of the night.

We finish all the reports and submit them to the Watch Commander for approval. He reads all the reports and then tells us we shouldn’t have taken the Traffic Accident reports.

He said the car crash was City Property Involved (CPI) by influence. In other words, because we were chasing this guy we sort of caused the accident. We could have saved ourselves hours of reports if we knew better. I’ll learn as you’ll see in my next story.

I’m driving southbound Western approaching Santa Monica. The car in front of me makes a left turn right through the red light. He’s weaving back and forth. He’s drunk. He is now entering the Hollywood Freeway. Damn, this guy is very drunk and now he’s going to get on the freeway. We turn on the red lights and give the siren a quick blast. Nothing, he has now accelerated to 35 mph and is weaving between two traffic lanes.

My partner picks up the microphone and says I’m putting us in pursuit. I tell him, “No wait, just say were following a possible DUI.” Once you say pursuit, a sergeant has a bunch of paperwork to complete and he won’t be happy. The entire police department will listen as you follow a drunk at 35 mph—not the stuff Joe Wambaugh writes about. So we broadcast were following, not in pursuit, of a drunk driver southbound on the Hollywood Freeway. The drunk makes it all the way to the four level interchange in downtown L.A. before he crashes. We get him out of the car and of course he’s not hurt. Drunk drivers are never hurt in crashes.

The CHP shows up and wants to know, did the drunk know you were following him? I say, “No.”  No CPI. We give the whole thing to the CHP and go have a Pinks Hot Dog.  My sergeant is happy, no pursuit report. The driver had an alcohol level of .30, almost 4 times the legal limit now.

See, sometimes I learn a lesson.

Character: Jimmy long Stick

This Hollywood Character didn’t work Hollywood for his entire career, like some of us, but he made an impression with everyone he was around. Unlike my other stories, I wasn’t present for some of these incidents but they have been passed down from different officers and are just too funny not to share.

Most of the stories I’m about to describe are true and can be verified by no less than six registered Republicans, some sober. Before the political correctness illness took over the LAPD, cops had a lot of fun while still doing a difficult job. It’s how cops deal with the horrors they see on a daily basis. Practical jokes were a way of life in the LAPD.

The first few stories involve a captain that was at Hollywood during the early 70’s. He was a drunk and often could be seen driving around Hollywood with his wife during the late night hours. I once got a call to back up the captain on Sunset Boulevard with a drunk man. My captain was wrestling this drunk in the parkway. I arrived and the captain said, “The drunk was about to stagger out into traffic.”  It was a toss-up who was drunker.

The Captain’s Office was next door to the station in the old Hollywood Receiving Hospital. The building was also the offices of Narcotics or Vice. Anyway officers would come into the building late at night and find the captain passed out in his office on the floor. I heard that Jimmy Long Stick would place a card with the date and time in front of the passed out Captain and take a picture. I believe it was called insurance.

This captain was also a smoker and was constantly patting his pockets to find his cigarette package. It was rumored that Jimmy Long Stick would place snails in his pockets and wait for him to pat his pockets.

I know there are many other Jimmy Long Stick stories but I’m going to finish up with a story that legends are made from. Jimmy Long Stick was working Hollywood Detectives and he had to go to New Mexico to pick up a couple of wanted persons. Jimmy Long Stick and Dave Lovestedt, another Hollywood character, were given the task to drive an unmarked city car to New Mexico and pick up these miscreants. They arrived the night before they were due to take the suspects back and decided to spend some of the per-diem the city gives officers for overnight extraditions.

The local constable usually shows the Detectives the town’s sights which might include a cantina or two. The sun rises and Dave Lovestedt awakes in the hotel room alone. He notices that their city car is gone as well as Jimmy Long Stick. Maybe Jimmy Long Stick went for a little food. Dave sits on the bed and turns on the TV to the local news channel. Instead of news the founding fathers parade is on the TV. Dave sits back and wondering where Jimmy Long Stick is, watches the parade.

The parade is the usual small town parade, high school band, local dignitaries, an equestrian unit or two. As the end of the parade appears on the TV, Dave sees a dark police-type car, very similar to the one they drove to New Mexico. Dave leans forward and watch’s as the TV camera zooms in on the last entry in the parade. That’s right it’s Jimmy Long Stick, leaning out the car window, waving to the crowd. True story.

Your probably wondering why Bud Arce was called Jimmy Long Stick. I was wondering the same thing so I asked him. After a distinguished career with the LAPD, Bud Arce retired and moved to Idaho. Now Bud is half-Mexican and it was easier to blend in as a native Indian than Mexican. So Bud Arce became “Jimmy Long Stick.”

Bud Arce, another Hollywood Character.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: More Characters–Mean Lawrence

By Hal Collier LAPD, Retired

We are happy that 35-year veteran Hal Collier is sharing his ‘stories behind the badge’ with us.

The following story is true and the character is, or should I say was, real. He passed away years ago. Lawrence Mescher (sp)

First my story: I’m not the most computer-literate person in the Western Hemisphere. I’m always asking kids to fix some problem with my lap top. My generation didn’t grow up with computers. Hell, we had to read the instructions on a new calculator. Our kids taught us how to play the Atari games.

When I made sergeant in 1993, my new captain said that all paperwork shall be completed on the computer. The dumb ass that I am, I raised my hand and advised him that I didn’t know how to use a computer. He rolled his eyes and said we’ll teach you.

A little knowledge is dangerous. I got a ten minute lesson and dived into my first project. I deleted a whole page that took me an hour to complete. I missed the part where they teach you the save key.

My police department has a policy that anything you turn in is called “Completed Staff Work.” Completed Staff Work means no abbreviations, proper grammar, spelling, and everything else I forgot from English class. I signed up to be a cop not an editor for the Encyclopedia Britannica.

As computer dumb as I am there are some cops out there with less skill. Flash forward a few years. I’m learning to use the computer and I can even load paper and unjam the printer. I come to work one morning and after writing a report I press the print button on my computer. The printer is in the Sergeants room behind the Watch Commanders Office. My computer replies that the printer is not working. I check the printer and discover that the printer is jammed with paper. No problem. I unjam the paper and the printer begins to print commands that were sent to it hours earlier.

I figure I’ll look over the newly printed documents and return them to the author. I stumble across an e-mail by a Hollywood sergeant to another sergeant in another division. The e-mail describes his current lieutenant and what a waste of uniform and air this lieutenant is. He goes on to blast the Police Departments promotion process and if this individual ever makes a decision the sergeant might have a heart attack.

These kinds of comments about your boss are not career builders. I agreed with the sergeant’s assessment, but Jeeze, don’t write it down where it might fall into the wrong hands. I sneaked the e-mail to the sergeant and became an accomplice. The lieutenant promoted and the sergeant and I stayed in patrol, which is where we wanted to be in the first place. Sergeants name (RJ) available for a coupon for a car wash.

Hollywood Character: Lawrence Mescher

Lawrence won’t be known to a lot of the officers who came to Hollywood after the 80’s but some of the early cops will recognize him, not by name but by his reputation. Lawrence hated the cops and the feeling was mutual. He was a thief, a pack rat and often made complaints against any officer who questioned his behavior. Lawrence could be found standing in front of a news rack on Hollywood Boulevard, usually after midnight. Lawrence always had a stack of new newspapers under his arm.

I remember once I got a complaint from a businessman about some bum living in a car. I approach the car and it’s filled with junk. I mean the only place to sit down is the driver’s seat. There’s a six inch pile of papers on the dash. Lawrence is sitting behind the wheel. I ask for his driver’s license. Lawrence replies, “I want your business card and badge number.” I tell Lawrence, “It will be on the vehicle impound report when I take your car.” Lawrence pleads, “Don’t take my car.” I’m amazed when Lawrence pulls his driver’s license out from the middle of the pile of papers—and it’s valid. I won this one. Lawrence moved his car.

Later, Lawrence became a training tool for young probationers. A training officer would see Lawrence and advise the rookie that Lawrence was an arson suspect, which he was. He always seemed to be close by whenever there was a trash can fire. The idea was that Lawrence always gave the police a hard time, refusing to ID himself, demanding the officer’s business card and threatening to make a complaint. This was a good training tool for a rookie. The rookie learned that he was in charge and not to back down to someone just because they threatened to complain.

Lawrence was also a thief. He would stand in front of the news rack until he was sure that the police weren’t around then jimmy the coin slot and take all the newspapers. The newspaper guys couldn’t figure out why their racks were empty and no money was in the coin box.
Lawrence was found dead in a motel on Sunset Boulevard. The motel room was filled with unread newspapers. I’d tell you what Lawrence was doing when he died but it might not be appropriate.
I don’t think any Hollywood officers shed a tear.


Ramblings by Hal

A Practical Joke

By Hal Collier


We had a captain who was a good guy. Not all street cops like or understand their captains. Captains are the ones who call an officer into his office and give him his penalty for some misconduct. Anyway this captain was liked by most cops and all supervisors. I thought he would appreciate a good practical joke. I had my wife, Terri, buy a “for sale” sign. I wrote on it “For Sale, Cheap, make an offer, I have to leave the country” I placed the sign on the captain’s police car, parked in the station parking lot. I used my probationer as a look out, even though he thought he would get fired. I even took a couple of pictures.


The Detective Lieutenant saw the sign, ripped it off and stormed into the captain’s office. The lieutenant wanted an investigation and wanted some cop to fry. The captain saw the humor and told the lieutenant to let it go. Whew, I might make retirement yet. I waited a few weeks, had the picture developed and placed in a small frame that Terri bought for me. I snuck into the captain’s office and placed the picture next to his family photos. Six months later the picture was still on his desk. Someone told me the picture was on his desk at his new assignment downtown.

See why he was liked?


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Soiled Doves, part 1

 By Hal Collier


The following stories are true and are my recollections and certainly don’t reflect the views or opinions of the LAPD.  Those of you have followed my stories must have known that I would eventually write about prostitutes.  How could you write about Hollywood without bringing up the subject of prostitution?  Hollywood is the prostitution capital of the world.  Just about every city has prostitutes and an area, kind of like an auto mart, where you can go and pick out the model of your choice.  Hollywood is synonymous with prostitution, the world’s oldest profession.


I’m not an expert on prostitutes. I never worked vice, or (PED) Prostitution Enforcement Detail, but you can’t work Hollywood patrol for thirty-three years without some contact and stories.   Prostitutes can be broken down into numerous categories: Men seeking women, men seeking men, men seeking men dressed as women, men who claim they didn’t know it was a man, yea right, AKA Drag Queens, and women seeking women.  I’m not even going touch the different fetishes that are out there, or hotel, or outcall prostitutes.


Well, okay, just one fetish.  I saw this trick circling the block looking at all the female prostitutes.  There was this one girl that was quite good looking.  This trick drove right by her and picked up a rather heavy set girl that was testing the strength of her spandex wardrobe.  Some guys just like “a little junk in the trunk.”


In the early days, most of the prostitutes knew that blue suit cops couldn’t arrest them for prostitution.  Oh sure, we could write them tickets for standing in the roadway and book them for any unpaid tickets, but who wanted to spend the next three hours booking a female at Van Nuys or Sybil Brand Institute?  Our Vice Unit, the largest in the city, could only arrest so many prostitutes a night and those they did arrest were soon bailed out by their pimps.  The prostitutes also knew that vice officers had Sundays and Mondays off.  Some of the prostitutes who actually graduated high school would call the vice office and if no one answered they would go to work without fear of being arrested.


I remember the prostitutes used to stand on the boundary line between the city and county, in front of Bullwinkle on Sunset.  If they saw a Hollywood police car they would move to the county side, if it was a sheriff’s car, they would move to the city side. I notice that they preferred the city side, so I asked one girl why.  She told me that LAPD writes us tickets and books us on our warrants but the sheriffs make us put our hands on their car window ledge and they hit our fingers with their metal flashlights.  Bet you never heard that on ABC News.


We had a new captain who wanted to know just how bad the problem was.  He wouldn’t come out at night and see for himself so he sent a sergeant out to do a whore count.  The sergeant made a drive on Sunset Boulevard from the county line, where Bullwinkle stands, to Normandie, Hollywood’s eastern boundary.  He counted over three hundred girls. If you figure in the ones that were already on a date in a motel or on car date, the number is higher.  Tax them and reduce the deficit in six months.


The problem was so bad at one time, that I was enroute to a high priority radio call.  I was driving westbound Sunset Boulevard at Vista.  I look over at the Denny’s and see a prostitute leaning into a car stopped at the stop sign.  She is performing the kind of sex that Clinton denied getting in the Oval Office.  Think about it: you go to the theater, tickets $90, night club & drinks, $100, late meal at Denny’s $40.  Watching a prostitute give some motorist oral sex right outside your booth, priceless.


A lot of non-police think prostitutes look like Julia Roberts in Pretty Women, or Melanie Griffith in Body Double.  Quite the opposite, even the whores classified themselves.  The west end prostitutes were usually a better looking, better dressed and of course more expensive dates.  The east end whores were referred to as “Mud Ducks.”  They were the Wal-Mart variety, little quality, but a lot cheaper than Saks 5th Avenue.  They seldom bathed, or put on clean clothes and usually were supporting a drug habit. I suspect that most had STD’s.  Mud Ducks were not allowed to work the West end.


Next, I’ll talk about some of the great stories I heard from tricks when they want to make a crime report about how they lost their wallet.

Stay tuned.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Complaints, part three


By Hal Collier


IA logo

The following story is true and my last chapter on complaints.  I spent thirty-four+ years on the LAPD and received my share of complaints.  Some I did, most I didn’t do, and a few I was accused of, I wasn’t even there.


Serious complaints were handled by I.A. (Internal Affairs).  They were cops just like the rest of us but some I.A. guys thought of us as the enemy.  Almost any cop who wanted to promote did a tour of I.A.  It looked good in their personnel package.  I don’t know if they were rated on how many complaints they sustained (officer found guilty) but some of their tactics were suspicious. 


I was a young officer and arrived at work one night after a few days off.  In roll call, I discovered I was assigned to the jail.  Officer Gary Hines thought he was working the jail and dressed for jail duty so we swapped assignments and I worked the desk.


Months later, I was told that I’m a witness on a very serious excessive force complaint.  The I.A. cops always told you: “you’re just a witness,” or in today’s language, “a person of interest.” To I.A. it was synonymous with accomplice.


IA interviewSergeant Carlson comes to Hollywood to interview me.  He takes me into the captain’s office and sits me down.  He doesn’t smile and opens his briefcase, inside is a tape recorder.  He shows me a work sheet that shows I’m working the jail on the night in question.  I check my officer’s notebook and I see that I marked jail on said date.


Sergeant Carlson turns on the tape recorder and begins the interview.  The complaint was that Officer Jack choked out an arrestee in the jail during the booking process.


Now, anybody that knows me very well, knows that I have a very good memory.  For the life of me, I can’t remember the incident.  Sergeant Carlson looks at me like I’m the biggest liar in the L.A.P.D.  The old Hollywood Jail wasn’t that big and if anybody got choked out I would have known.


After numerous questions and my denial of any knowledge of the incident, Sergeant Carlson pretends to turn off the tape recorder.  He then asks me, “Is there anything else you want to tell me about the incident?”  This time, he’s smiling like were old friends.  I stick to my story and plead ignorance, not a big stretch for me.  As I’m walking out of the captain’s office I look back and see Sergeant Carlson turn off the tape recorder.


A few weeks later, I run into Gary Hines in court and he reminds me that we switched and he worked the jail that night. One month later Sergeant Carlson promoted to Lieutenant and transferred to Hollywood. 


We never trusted each other.


My most serious complaint involved a pimp name “Bobo” and two other black men who picked up a drunk white valley girl at a club.  They took her to their apartment on Beachwood Drive in Hollywood.  After repeated sexual assaults and beatings, the girl escaped and ran into the street, screaming.


Dave and I were working the Hype car and our hours were 8 PM to 5 AM.  We responded to the screaming women call and were told that the suspects were last seen northbound on Beachwood in a car.  We stayed with the victim as other cops searched the area.  As luck would have it, the suspects drove back down Beachwood and were arrested right in front of us. 


Dave and I drove Bobo and his accomplices to Hollywood station.  We found the victim’s keys under the back seat of our police car.  We tucked Bobo and his friends in a holding tank and went home.


A week later, I went to court and testified about recovering the keys in our police car.  For the next few months I was subpoenaed and attended every court hearing.  The jury found Bobo and friends guilty and sent them to prison.  The presiding judge had a question about why Bobo and accomplices were bloody in their booking photos and ordered an Internal Affairs investigation.  Bobo and his cell mates were interviewed and all pointed me out in a photo lineup.  They claimed that I beat them up in the police car on the way downtown to be booked.  That was hours after I went home.


Two I.A. sergeants come to Hollywood station to interview me.  They show me the face sheet of the complaint and point to a “PF” initial in the corner.  It represents where the D.A. has said if true there’s a prima fascia case against me for assault under color of authority.  In laymen’s terms that means if I’m guilty, I go to prison.  I can’t go to prison, my son hasn’t graduated 6th grade yet.


The sergeants read me my Miranda Rights, which was then unheard of.  They show me pictures of Bobo and his friends after booking.  They have bloody shirts, swollen eyes and fat lips.  When I left them in the Hollywood holding tank they were wearing clean shirts and no visible injuries.


Now, I’d like to tell you these two sergeants were smart, but I can’t.  They asked me if I beat them up.  I asked when they were booked at Jail Division.  They said after 10:00 A.M.  I showed them a copy of my daily log and pointed out that I went home at 5:00 A.M.  I then pointed out a photo lineup of the three suspects taken at 8:00 A.M. by the investigating Detective.  Bobo and friends are not beaten up.


I look these two I.A. Investigators in the eye and ask, “Do you think I waited around 5 hours on my own time to beat them up.”  They then ask, “Well then, who beat them up?”  I’m exasperated and answer, “How the hell would I know? I’m home in bed.”  These two rocket scientists are going to interview my partner, Dave Balleweg who is off IOD (injured on duty) and living near Yucca Valley.  They call ahead and get directions and set up an appointment.  An hour after the appointment time is past, they call Dave and are lost somewhere near Indio, Ca.  These two are going to keep Dave and me out of Prison. They can’t find Yucca Valley with a road map and directions.


Jail-Fight-e1321280138991Later, I was told that Bobo and his accomplices got into a fight in the holding tank and beat each other up. I’m not going to prison, so I don’t have to bulk up to protect myself from a cell mate named Peaches.  They picked me out of the photo lineup because I attended every court appearance.


Two short complaint stories.  “Mike” responded to a “burglar there now” radio call.  They detained a couple of guys as suspects.  One was acting like a complete “asshole.” He was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car.  After interviewing everyone and determining that no crime occurred, Mike said, “I guess I’ll have to let this “Knucklehead” go. 


Well, the “Knucklehead” complained that he was insulted by the remark.  That’s right, I was assigned to interview eight to ten witnesses and spent dozens of hours investigating this terrible miscarriage of justice.  I tried to rationalize that a “knucklehead” was a motorcycle and not misconduct, but the department wouldn’t buy it.  Mike received a reprimand.


photo by
photo by

Last one: this officer stopped this nicely dressed lady for running a stop sign on her way to work.  She didn’t want the ticket and wanted to make a complaint against the officer for using profane language.  I was called to the scene.  This particular officer was known for using swear words in a normal conversations.  I was a little worried for him. 


When I interviewed the lady she was very prim and proper and obviously well-educated.  Of course, she denied running the stop sign but was more concerned with the officer’s language.


I next interviewed the officer and he smiled and said, “Sarge, I have everything on my tape recorder!”  I listened to the tape and this was no lady, she swore like a drunken sailor.  The officer was very professional, he didn’t even call her a knucklehead.


I played the tape for the violator and she blushed at first then want to make a complaint against the officer for taping her conversation.  I told her the Police Department encouraged officers to carry tape recorders to avoid just such complaints.  She called me a bad name and drove off.


Chief Parks was not asked to come back for a second term and some of the complaint procedures were changed.  Frivolous complaints were made into short form.  One day, I stayed home and completed eight short form complaints in four hours and got paid for eight hours.  I didn’t even have to dress and shave for work.  I was also able to write off my computer on my taxes.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Court, Sleeping and the Job

By Hal Collier

On my last Ramblings, I described trying to adjust to sleeping in the day time and working all night.  Most cops hated Morning Watch, but I soon fell in love with the police work that can be accomplished while the city slept.  It must be in the genes, my son has worked Morning Watch for the past 15 years.


On Morning Watch you didn’t have to deal with the regular city traffic, you just had to dodge the drunk drivers.  You don’t have the petty disputes between neighbors, “her cat digs up my daises.”  The best part, the brass was home asleep and not out interfering with the way you handled a radio call.  I spent two years on Morning Watch before my captain could put my face to a name.  That was a good thing.


Hollywood in the 70’s was a lot of fun.  You hit the streets at 11:30 PM.  You cleared for radio calls and immediately got five calls, the max.  Apparently the PM watch officers had been submarining to get off on time.  They only had a two hour window before the bars closed.


In between racing from call to call, a few “hot shot” radio calls would come out.  To non-police friends, a “hot shot” call was an emergency call demanding immediate attention. Robbery, rapes, drive by-shootings, you know the usual dull stuff.


Tiny Naylor's back in the day
Tiny Naylor’s back in the day

On a slow night, usually midweek, you could sneak in a cup of coffee at Tiny Naylor’s.  Tiny Naylor’s was a drive-in restaurant where you got car service—you know tray on your car window.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to set the tray on the ground because we got a hot shot radio call.


Weekend nights were very busy and we rushed from call to call until about four A.M.  When it slowed down, you had a chance to catch up on your log.  Again for the non-police friends, a log documented when you got the call, when you handled the call and what time you cleared the call.  It also documented what you did and who you talked to.  Now during a busy night your log was written on a small 3×5 inch scratch pad and you had to transfer it to your log later.  Many a busy night the whole night’s work was on small scraps of paper.


Working Morning Watch in Hollywood was like always being in the front of the line at Disneyland rides.  Sometimes after work it would take an hour for the adrenaline to leave your body.  I can’t believe they are paying us for having this much fun.  There were some draw backs—ok, a lot of draw backs.  Some cops couldn’t sleep during the day.  Hell, some couldn’t stay awake for the ride home.  Many a Morning Watch officer owes his life to the guy who invented the freeway lane dots known as Botts Dots.  They woke him up just before he drifted off the freeway.


LA Criminal Courts Building
LA Criminal Courts Building

The biggest curse was probably court.  Work all night, change into your Brooks Brother suit—you know the one with the C&R tags and drive downtown.  You could wear your uniform, but then you became an information officer.  Officer, can you tell how to get to?  Sometimes citizens lined up to ask you directions or questions.


In the early 70’s court was in the old Hall of Justice. I remember walking past Charlie Manson’s girls during his trial.  Soon after, they built the Criminal Courts Building (CCB) across the street.  The new court house had a check-in and officer waiting room.  If you got there early, you could lay down on the two couch like seats.  If you got there late, you had to sit in a stiff upright chair.  Now, some cops could sleep anywhere.  They removed their suit coat, shoes, gun and laid down for a nice nap.  Me, I found out early, no matter how tired I was, don’t lie down and close your eyes.  After an hour asleep I was like a drunk at a Led Zeppelin concert.


Court could be a thirty minute visit or an eight hour ordeal.  Ok, spend all night working, leave work for the drive downtown to court.  Spend eight hours waiting for your case to be called, only to be told at 4:30 PM come back tomorrow.  No problem, I’ll race home in rush hour traffic, eat a drive thru hamburger and grab a quick three hour nap and go back to work.  This was not a rare instance but a regular occurrence.


I once had a partner, Mike Brambles, who had been up for two days between work and court.  He fell asleep in Judge Lang’s Court, Division 38.  Not just asleep, but he fell out into the center aisle, passed out on the floor.  Judge Lang put him to bed in his chambers until end of the day and then sent Mike home.


Another time I had worked three nights in a row with court.  I walked out of court as the sun was setting.  I walked the three blocks to the Music Center where we had to park.  I was in a daze and couldn’t remember which level I parked my truck, eight hours earlier.  I found it after walking down two levels and everyone else had already gone home.


Just about every Morning Watch cop had a court story that the general public doesn’t know about.  Next I’ll write about “Hitting the Hole!!



Ramblings by Hal

Rookie Mistakes by the Brass

By Hal Collier

The following story is true, the names have been changed to protect the embarrassed.  Rookie mistakes are not all made by new police officers.  Some of the biggest police blunders are made by senior sergeants, lieutenants, and captains.  Often they make these blunders because they haven’t worked in the field in years.  We call them “building boys”.  To my non-police friends, building boys work non-patrol assignments to further their careers.  I don’t fault them for their ambition to promote as long as they listen to those who have spent their time in the field.  As usual I’ll only use first names to protect their identity.   I’ve found most of my cop friends are willing to pay me to learn their real names.  Nothing like a little dirt on a supervisor to get your requests granted.  No coins this time guys.



We had a lieutenant–Phil, nice guy but a building boy.  LAPD policy dictates when you bring in an arrestee who has a large amount of cash, a supervisor has to do a money count.  This cuts down on complaints that the officer stole money.  Ok, the officer brings in the cash and asks the supervisor to count it.  The supervisor counts the money and initials a money envelope.  So this “building” lieutenant takes the cash out of the envelope, all bills and begins counting.  He licks his finger after every few bills to separate them.  After a few seconds of this, he asks the arresting officer who he arrested.  The officer stated he arrested a female prostitute in rather skimpy clothes. The lieutenant licks his finger again and asks the officer where she had the money.  The officer says, without missing a beat, she held it her love vault.  OK, if you need a further, more graphic description of a love vault, you need to get out more.  This same lieutenant bought some ocean view property in Hawaii, sight unseen.  Problem was no roads, electricity, and water, none planned for twenty years, but it had a nice view.


Couldn't find the Wrigley's ad Hal talks about.
Couldn’t find the Wrigley’s ad Hal talks about.

The second supervisor was again a nice guy, not a building guy. Hell, he’d get lost in a building with more than one story.  He sits in the Watch Commander’s office with the narcotics scale and weigh things.  I walked in one night and he asked for my badge.  He wanted to know if a sergeant’s badge weighed more than a policeman’s badge.  Duh.  He also weighed a pack of Wrigley’s gum.  At the time, there was a commercial on TV with a person walking around with a pack of gum under his arm.  This sergeant calculated that the pack of gum would be too heavy to carry.  Your tax dollars at work.  He was a sailor.  Always talking about sailing and buying a bigger boat.  His wife was a home decorator who made a good salary. They bought a home in the marina with a boat slip, closed escrow, and then found out their boat was too big for their boat slip.


The third rookie mistake is all mine.  I’m driving and responding to domestic violence radio call.  I drive to the location and park two houses away. That’s an officer safety tactic so you don’t get ambushed.  See, I’m cool and thinking.  We approach and hear arguing coming from the house.  We deploy, which means taking cover in case someone comes out shooting.  We knock and yes, there’s a family dispute in progress.  They really look surprised to see us and ask who called.  We never tell them.  We separate the parties and determine there is no crime.  We offer our expert advice and tell them we don’t want to return or someone will go to jail.  That always scares the shit out of them.  Yea, right.


We get in the car and I’m telling my probationer, John, “See, that’s how you handle these domestic calls.”   I drive to the end of the block and look at the street sign.  I’m on the wrong block, just like the song, “Silhouettes on the Shade”.  I drive to the next block and the right address.  Guess what–a domestic dispute.  Again, we handle a domestic dispute.  This time, I didn’t offer any advice to my probationer.  John didn’t make any comments which might have been the reason he made it off probation.


Practical Joke


I worked with a Viet Nam Veteran, a quiet unassuming guy.  He did his job and never talked about his war experiences.  If you spend 8 hours in a police car with someone you get to know the person. That’s why police officers are so close and protective of each other.  We found out that we both grew up in Eagle Rock and played in the same Little League.  I later found out that he was awarded the Silver Star for heroism. One day, were driving around and he says to me, “Hal, lets catch us a pigeon.”  I’m thinking, why? They’re flying rats, and my previous experiences with pigeons was not fond.  He tells me that pigeons are blind at night and you can catch them easy.  I remind him we’re working day watch and I don’t want some busy body citizen calling the Watch Commander, complaining about two policemen chasing pigeons.  I was the senior officer so I won the argument. At least that’s what I thought.


The next day, this mild-mannered officer was working with someone else.  I’m driving into the station as he’s leaving.  We smile and wave.  I go into the station for about 30 minutes.  When I come out to my police car I have 4 pigeons inside.  Not only are they on my head rest, front seat and MDT (that’s the computer in police cars), they have all relieved themselves numerous times.  Lesson learned, don’t ever trust the quiet guy.


This same quiet officer, had a habit of tying a fishing line to the inside police car door handle and to the siren switch.  When the unsuspecting officer opened his car door the siren would wail and the officer would relieve himself in the parking lot.  This officer later went to the Bomb Squad.


Your tax dollars at work.

Ramblings by Hal

Rookie Mistakes

By Hal Collier


The story you are about to read is true.  The following mistakes were mine and mine alone.  Some I have repressed for over three decades, but I have come to the conclusion that my career is over.  I was a slow learner when it came to my career.


LAPD Academy graduates
LAPD Academy graduates

I mentioned station security in one of my earlier stories.  One of the important jobs of the station security officer was that the flags be posted at dawn.  The old station was two stories and the flag pole was outside a second story window.  To attach the flags to the pole you had you lean way out the window and attach both the American and California flags.  One morning after eight hours of standing in the dark and leaning out the window, I hung the California flag upside down.  I was tired and didn’t notice.  The Captain drove into the station parking lot and wanted to know who thought the California bear should be on his back.  After apologizing to the Captain.  He suggested that I have two more days of Station Security to practice posting the flags the proper way. It never happened again.

Most probationers are pretty proud of being a cop. Unfortunately most citizens aren’t that impressed.  I’d been in the streets for about 6 weeks and I learned that people were always watching you. I want to make a good impression.  It’s Saturday night in Hollywood, the streets are crowded, young ladies stare as you drive down Hollywood Boulevard.  I’m pretty impressed with myself.  I’m the passenger officer in a 1969 Plymouth black and white–the best police car the department ever used.  It’s only 2 years old but already has over 70,000 miles and the dash has holes in it.  The seat belts are tied in knots so you couldn’t wear them if you wanted to.  In the hands of a good driver that car could take a corner on two wheels and not lose speed.  My partner Rick was just that kind of a driver.

1969 Plymouth Belvedere patrol car
1969 Plymouth Belvedere patrol car

We got a code three radio call. That means red lights and siren.  It was halfway across the Division. Cool, I’m going to have hundreds of citizens watching their tax dollars at work.

Now Rick is in rare form. He’s taking corners that would make a stunt car driver proud.  Were southbound on Fairfax approaching Sunset.  The streets are packed and they have all stopped to watch us make a right turn onto Sunset.  John takes the corner like a pro, I grab the inside door handle to fight the centrifugal force.  The door handle comes off in my hand and I slide across the seat.  I’m now sitting next to Rick as if we were on a date.  I scoot back across the seat to my side of the car and look out the window.  I see all these people laughing.   I’m guessing they won’t vote us a pay raise this year.

Another early lesson you learn is that you’re wearing a blue wool uniform.  Wool uniforms attract animal hair of any kind.  When a little old lady invites you to sit on her couch, ask if she has cats.  Lint brushes hadn’t been invented yet so you spent the rest of the night looking like a fur covered cop.  That was not even my rookie mistake.  I was wearing a long sleeve, blue wool uniform one cold night.  We had an encounter with a combative drag queen.  I said I wouldn’t be politically correct, for my non-police friends, a drag queen is a man who dresses in women’s clothes.  The choke hold was a department approved tactic and was even encouraged in the early 70’s.  It was never fatal and saved you from hitting the bad guy with your night stick.

This gentlemen in women’s clothing decided he was not going to jail. The fight was on.  I applied the department approved choke hold.  The gentlemen soon went to sleep for about 30 seconds and was handcuffed.  As I stood up my partner was laughing at me.  I looked down at our suspect, he was wearing a rabbit hair coat.  My uniform was covered in rabbit hair and my sleeve had pancake make-up all over it.  Sometimes rookie mistakes can’t be helped. Yea it was the first day of a clean uniform

Practical Joke:  People in all walks of life have played practical jokes on fellow friends, employees, and spouses.  Most people in emergency services use practical jokes as a morale booster and stress release.  Most old timers will say they miss the old days.

We had a Lieutenant who was liked by the whole watch.  He rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle and considered anyone who rode a different motorcycle a lesser form of life.  His motorcycle was his pride and joy.  One boring night on A.M. watch, the Lieutenant had his motorcycle parked at the rear door of the station.  The Lieutenant was distracted by some accomplices, while another officer pushed his pride and joy into the Captains Office.  An hour later the Lieutenant was called into the Captains Office, where the Captain wanted to know why the Lieutenant’s Motorcycle was dripping oil on his carpet.  Ok, not all practical jokes are well thought out.  The Lieutenant was more concerned if his motorcycle was scratched.


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: More on Fighting

Police in a joint immigration task force take down a prisoner who will be expelled from Canada for being in Canada illegally. All images ©2013 Peter Bregg
Police in a joint immigration task force take down a prisoner who will be expelled from Canada for being in Canada illegally.
All images ©2013 Peter Bregg

I said I didn’t get in a lot of fights and I guess I didn’t for someone who spent his whole career in patrol.  Most cops who fight a lot have two to four years of experience.  After four years they get smart, I think its policy.  That is not based on any scientific data, but on years of my own experience.


See, young cops have to prove they are the king of the hill.  They will fight any dirt bag until they get tired of replacing expensive uniforms and waiting for their own skin to grow back.


I’m going to take you on a little side trip.  You see, in the academy the city gives you two brand new uniforms, free.  Of course they fitted you for the uniforms after three months of intensive physical training.

Some recruits hadn’t been in good physical condition since high school or boot camp in the military.  So now they head out into the world of crime and bad guys.  Those new uniforms, which by the way cost over a $120, will last as long as you can still fit in them and they don’t get ripped in a street fight.  The next set of uniforms, you paid for out of a less than generous paycheck.  In later years, officer’s got a uniform allowance check, mine was used to pay off credit card debts from Christmas.  I couldn’t afford to fight for 6 months.


You pay to replace a few uniform shirts or pants instead of going to a movie and dinner with your family and you’ll wish you had paid more attention in that class on the art of persuasion. It was called “Verbal Judo.” 


Nothing will ruin a nice expensive 100% wool uniform faster than a roll around on an asphalt street with some law breaker who will get timed served by some judge.


Ok, another reason not to fight is that you might get hurt.  Getting hurt is a part of the job but sitting at a desk for a couple of months while the dirt bag you fought with is out committing more crimes is just not fair.  I know of a half dozen cops who have broken their hands hitting some bottom feeder in the head.


I remember Officer Bill punched a guy in the face when it appeared the guy was kidnapping a women.  He broke five bones in his hand.  The husband was only trying to get his drunk wife in the car. Oops.


Officer Dale broke his hand hitting some well-deserved recipient and was chastised by the Captain. The Captain then showed Dale the proper way to hit a suspect without injury to your hand.  Dale still had to work the front desk until his hand healed.


Most cops are accused of racial profiling certain people.  The fact is that certain groups of people are prone to fight, especially when drunk.  I’m a product of my environment.  Now, Hollywood is multi-racial so we didn’t have an overwhelming population of any race.  My experience tells me that if you want to fight with a Hispanic, say something about his mother.  I’ve been told that after payday Harbor Division Longshoremen get drunk and want to fight.  I also heard that Samoans love to fight.  But no cop disagrees that a drunk American Indian will fight for no reason other than he’s drunk and you’re there.


In Hollywood, we didn’t have a large population of American Indians, but I know that Central Division had a lot.  I suspected that Central cops would put a drunk Indian on a bus, one way, to Hollywood.


When you get in a fight, you seldom have time to prepare, but every once in a while you know it’s going be unavoidable.  I had one classic time that I knew we were going to be rolling around on the ground. 


We were driving around Hollywood one beautiful night when we get an “Arson Suspect” call at the Greyhound bus station on Vine.  It’s about 2:00 in the morning and the bars have just kicked out the last patrons.


We drive up to the bus station and see a trash can bon-fire in the middle of the street.  A small group of people are standing on the sidewalk.  I lean out the car window and ask who “Started the fire.”  From behind the smoke and flames, I hear, “I did, what are you going to do about it?”


I look at my partner and say, “We have a freebee.”  My partner is already taking off his watch and removing his pen & pencil.  Watches get broken and pens and pencils rip uniforms in a fight.  You guessed it—our suspect is a drunk American Indian.  We tactically deploy; ok, we split up a little.  We tried to talk the Indian into surrendering without a fight.  Later the Department gave classes and called it “Wooshaw.”  Getting a suspect to surrender without a fight, with words.  Well, this Indian missed the class and charged my partner.


The two of us and this drunk Indian roll around on the ground for a good ten minutes.  We finally avenge Custer’s fight at the “Little Big Horn” and handcuff our suspect.  Our suspect looks us in the eye and says, “Ok, fellows, good fight, let’s go to jail.”  All he wanted to do was fight before he got a bed and three meals on the city.  Me, I got a few abrasions but my uniform only got dirty.  My partner got a nice tear on a new pair of pants.  What the fight cost:  Indian, free meals and a bed, me, two band aids and some antiseptic, my partner a new pair of pants $80.


Next the worst and longest fight of my career.


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