Ramblings by Hal

A Veterans’ Day Tribute from Hal Collier

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Hal sent this article along to commemorate the day we honor veterans–the real American heroes.

The following story is true and I’ll use real names. I worked many special events during my time in Hollywood. I worked the Hollywood Christmas parade in one capacity or another for 30 plus years. Notice I said Christmas and not Holiday parade. I’ve resisted being politically correct and now that I’m retired I’ve been set free. I’m writing this now because it is appropriate.


I worked more movie premieres than Siskel & Ebert. The best job I ever worked was the “Welcome Home Desert Storm Parade” for the military. It was May 19, 1991. It was a tribute to all the soldiers who served in all the American wars. It was especially for the Viet Nam veterans who never were welcomed back.


I was assigned to the Green Room with Dale Hickerson. The Green Room for my non-Hollywood readers, is the room where celebrities gather before and after an event. They serve food and drinks and the celebrities mingle. Dale and I have worked the Green Room for the Christmas parades and learned that the best place to stand was at the rear exit. That’s where the stars walk out to get on a float or in a car to begin the parade. It’s also next to where the caterers bring in the fresh appetizers. We had first shot at all the good food. Caterers always take care of the guys with guns.


Dale and I are not into the Hollywood celebrity worship thing. We find that most of them are phony and have enormous egos. The Desert Storm Parade was different. They had real American heroes.


Dale and I were standing by the back door when two old timers walked up to us and started talking. They both had Congressional Medal of Honor medals around their necks. Damn real American heroes. I had lump in my throat and could hardly talk. One received his medal at Pearl Harbor. I wish I had written down their names but I was star struck.

They spent thirty minutes talking to us. What a thrill.


Later we were introduced to General Westmoreland, a general during the Viet Nam War. He was warmer than some of the department brass I’ve spoken to. We met Martha Raye, who entertained our troops during WW II, the Korean, and the Viet Nam Wars. We also met other soldiers but these made the biggest impression. 


Dale and I will never forget the sacrifices and the thrill of meeting some of these true American Heroes. To the veterans who read this;   “THANK YOU.”        


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Supervisors, part 3 of 3

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 the last of my suggestions on being a good supervisor, I promise!

Another thing I learned as a supervisor is you can’t take your reputation as a street cop with you. I felt I was a good street cop in Hollywood and made some pretty good arrests. I made Sergeant and I was transferred to Southeast (Watts) Division. Only a few officers there knew me and I had to establish my reputation all over again. Your reputation, good or bad is earned and that takes time. Be patient.


I got this advice in sergeant’s school and I used it the rest of my career. Don’t ask your officers to doing anything you won’t do. Get your hands dirty too. Don’t tell your officers to stand out in the rain or cold while you sit in your warm dry car. Once, I was working the Hollywood Christmas Parade and it was bitter cold and the wind increased the chill factor. The parade was over and the citizens scurried home. Our captain made us stand out in the cold for hours as he drove around in his car with the windows rolled up. A large number of us got sick. I was often the Watch Commander and on weekends we didn’t have a custodian. I could have asked a probationer to empty the trash cans but I remembered the lesson I learned in sergeant’s school. I emptied the trash myself.


Write the officers commendations when warranted. Everyone needs to be appreciated. I know it’s extra work but if an officer did a good job, don’t ever tell them, “That’s just your job.” Commendations are in your personnel package forever. If a commendation is not warranted at least verbally commend the officers, in roll call if possible, in front of their peers is even better. Never ever chew out an officer in public or in front of other officers. I hated Hawaii Five-0 and Kojak because the boss belittled his people in front of others.


Roll call—the start of a new day. What mood do you want the officers in when they leave roll call? I attended nineteen roll calls a month for eleven months a year for thirty-five years. That’s over 7,000 roll calls so I consider myself an expert on roll calls. If you’re the supervisor in charge of roll call it’s your responsibility to keep them happy. A while back we had a Chief of Police who publicly stated that officers’ morale was not his job. He was not well liked! Don’t send them out in the streets in a bad mood. The paperwork they will create for you is not worth the aggravation. If you have negative issues, say them early and then leave them on a happy note. We use to call that the sandwich method. Good, bad, good!


Last but not least, this was not required but I found it was a morale booster. I would bring in homemade cookies and See’s Candy at Christmas, a cooked turkey at Thanksgiving, and tubs of red licorice just because. It was much easier to get the officers to meet the goals of the department when they’re happy. I once decided to bring in a big basket of fresh fruit from Costco. I filled the basket with apples, oranges, bananas and pears. I thought it might be healthier than chocolate first thing in the morning. After roll call the remaining fruit was taken to the Watch Commander’s officer to share with the rest of the division. My captain walked in and asked who brought in the fruit. I said “I did, I have to take care of my officers.” 

He thought they were his officers. Ha ha, I let him think that.


It’s not easy switching hats from being one of the boys to being a supervisor. You show up at a coffee spot with three patrol cars and they all get busy and leave you there alone. I had one officer that I knew quite well. We fished together and talked all the time. I made sergeant and he refused to call me Hal. It was now ‘sergeant’. Get used to it.


Being a supervisor can be a hard job and lonely at times but it can also be rewarding. I remember one officer talking about a supervisor who held his retirement party in a phone booth—he wasn’t liked.

These are my suggestions and might work for some newly promoted supervisor or help an older supervisor. 

Good Luck.  


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