Writer's Notes

When is it THE END?

WMA on AmazonBy Thonie Hevron
I’ve written four books (three published) now, so I feel like I should know a bit about story-telling. But here’s the thing: they’re all different. My first book, By Force or Fear, wrote itself. I struggled with details but the story was already in my head. Still, the ending was problematic. I had a huge climax scene imagined with a mudslide taking the heroine’s storm ravaged-house down a hillside. But I got to the end and decided that instead of a random act of nature, I had to serve red-hot justice up on the villain. I wanted the heroine to shoot him in self-defense. I eventually decided against that because I didn’t like the improbability of this heroine (a sheriff’s deputy) shooting two people in this book. Statistically, very few law enforcement officers shoot people (in direct contradiction to the CNN headlines this morning about cop shooting deaths topping 1,000 this year, as in two previous years). The bad guy’s eventual death was at the hand of one of his henchmen (really? Does anyone use that word?). A kind of retribution for the villain and redemption for the henchman. When asked why, he said, “I couldn’t let him kill a cop.”
Intent to Hold took me a year to write, front to back. I’d had years to consider this sequel and by the time I sat down, the story poured out. Easy-peasy.

Not so with With Malice Aforethought. I wrote this story around a single scene I’d had in my head for years. The rest of the plot I had to work on. I completed the story in 2015 submitted it to Public Safety Writers Association Contest (PSWA) in unpublished novel category. I won second place and sent it to my publisher. She sent me a contract, which I signed and returned. Unfortunately, she suffered a persistent health problem that resulted in returning my rights. Something bugged me about the ending, even though my publisher liked it and so did PSWA, I got back to work on it. It took me almost a year to get it right—and then, it was with the help of my critique group. One member, Andy Gloege, is particularly adept at finding the path not taken. He wrote a couple of paragraphs that took Malice in an entirely different direction. Yet it was where the characters were going!

I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to other professionals, particularly those close to you. Andy had been through three books with Nick and Meredith. He knew them almost as well as I did. Armed with his suggestions, I wrote the ending of Malice with a smile on my face. I knew I’d gotten it right this time. Two years later.
A writer’s journey will always be a forward motion. If it isn’t, get help. Talk to other writers, readers who you can trust, professional editors, agents. Read books by Donald Maass and Stephen King. Read blogs like Jane Friedman or this one!

Today, I begin Friday’s Writer’s Notes with guest authors’ thoughts about when their stories are over— “When is it THE END”? You’ll hear from writers in many genres: detective mysteries, historical romance, cozy mysteries, memoir and police procedurals. This topic was so popular that there will be posts on Wednesdays and Fridays as well as our normal cop vignettes on Sunday mornings.
In August, I’ll return to Friday Writer’s Notes and Sunday cop posts.



Read Thonie Hevron’s books: By Force or Fear, Intent to Hold, and  are all available through Amazon. With Malice Aforethought will be in print soon, now available in eBook on

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Why Be a Cop? Part 1

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

imagesAbout a week before Christmas I sent out a Ramblings survey question to 40 former members of the LAPD. I received 24 responses. The responses were from cops that joined in 1956 to 1996. Many had different reasons they listed for taking the test, some economic others, on a dare. This survey is not recognized by any survey groups or any survey standards. The responses were submitted by both women and men some of which are still working.


Here’s the question: I’m doing a little research for a new Ramblings and I’d like some input from you. “Why did you become a LAPD cop? What or who influenced you to take the test?”

Many of the responses were similar and others surprising. I’ll use first names only, to save the embarrassment of a few. Remember, responses were from decades apart and different economic situations. Who’s hiring and what’s the pay?


I’ll start out with my own situation. One of my dad’s hunting partners was an LAPD officer. We use to go to Rams football games together. In my neighborhood, there was a cop who used to come and referee our sandlot football games, on duty. In high school I had a job at a hamburger stand, who didn’t, and it was owned by a LAPD cop, Ivan Pitney. He used to tell me cop stories and I was like a little kid being read a fairy tale book. I decided then that I would be a cop, and only at LAPD. Being only sixteen at the time I had to wait 4 1/2 long years to take the test. He encouraged me to go to college and take some police courses. Two days after my 21st birthday I took the written test for LAPD. I passed the many tests that followed and six months later I was in the LAPD academy. My timing was very good—LAPD was hiring. Others were not so lucky, they had to wait years during a hiring freeze!


Not everyone had it as quick or as easy. Many had no intention of being a cop! Next week, the responses for the other 24 former members of the finest police department in the world. Sorry, that’s the way it is in my mind!  


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Multi-tasking Cop

We’re baaaack! Time to read Hal Collier and Ed Meckle’s stories of past years at LAPD. They are funny, thought-provoking, infuriating or just plain worthy of a head-slap.  

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Police work is not all cops and robbers, blood and guts, and life and death. That’s just thrown in to break up the monotony. We often have moments where we almost seem normal to the general public.

graumannsAn example, I was working off duty at a movie premier and the after-premier party. I was in the parking lot behind the Chinese Theater. As usual, I had worked the day shift and was now into my 14th hour of work. Tired? No, I was young and indestructible and needed some extra money for my kids’ summer camp (which I don’t remember agreeing to). I was in the public eye and acting as professional as I knew how. That means no scratching your privates or picking your nose. Well, I thought I was acting professional.

Now, I was chewing gum—bubble gum, to be exact—and as I am a talented multi-tasked individual, I was also blowing bubbles. I thought I was due for a promotion due to my numerous talents. I was wrong!


So, there I am standing in the parking lot surrounded by celebrities and those who think they are. I had just blown a big bubble that even impressed my partner. I hear a loud laugh and turned to the sound. It’s a well-known female actress/director, she exclaims, “Did you see that cop? He just blew a big bubble.” I got the impression that she thought we were some kind of subspecies unable to chew gum, let alone blow bubbles.

Another liberal Hollywood star!


Ramblings by Hal

Emotional Graduation

An example of one thing a cop did that was right. KTVU television Facebook page

ORANGE COUNTY, Texas (FOX NEWS)— A police officer who had tell an 18-year-old last week that his parents had died in a motorcycle accident kept his promise and showed up at the teen’s high school graduation over the weekend.

Lt. Eric Ellison was tasked with telling 18-year-old Kazzie Portie his parents died on May 24 when a pickup truck smashed into their motorcycle. The driver of the truck faces two manslaughter charges.

When Ellison arrived at the family’s home, Portie was alone, according to BuzzFeed News. Ellison told KBMT breaking the news to Portie was one of the toughest things he has ever done.

Portie told Ellison his graduation from Cypress–Mauriceville High School was only a few days away, so Ellison promised he would be there to support him.

“I walked up on the stage he looked at me and I looked at him and we both cried and that’s OK,” Ellison told KBMT.

As Portie crossed the stage, the entire senior class stood and cheered for him. After he was given his diploma, Ellison was waiting for him at the other end of the stage.

“If you didn’t have a wet eye you needed to check your pulse, The Montagne Center was the loudest I have ever heard it,” Ellison told KBMT.

Portie told BuzzFeed News he has received an outpouring of support from the entire community, including Ellison.

“Seeing Officer Ellison there to congratulate me meant the world to me,” he said. “It was so nice to see that he actually showed a genuine care for me and my family’s situation instead of us just being another ‘case.’”

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, What Scares Cops?, part 2

By Hal Collier LAPD, Retired

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

Ok, so what does scare a knight in armor?  Be prepared to be shocked. 


First and foremost, the number one thing that scares a cop is that radio call, “Go to the Watch Commander.” Really, how bad can that be? You’ve spend half a shift doing everything right—well, maybe mostly right. You and your partner immediately go over all the radio calls and traffic stops you made that night. Did we piss off some tax paying citizen and he’s making a complaint? Did the Watch Commander discover that I missed court to go on that three day water skiing trip? Whatever, it can’t be good.


When I was the Watch Commander I would monitor the patrol units to see who was working and who was goofing off. If I had a simple request for the transportation of an arrestee to court or the downtown jail for medical treatment, I would get on the radio, and in my best “oh shit” voice tell the goof-off unit to come to the Watch Commander immediately. The officers would come into the watch commander’s office with their tails between their legs just like your dog did the last time he got into the trash. I enjoyed that—they weren’t doing anything productive anyway.


So what else scares cops? You handle a call with a drunk or drug crazed individual and you end up in a fight for your life. These fights are never pretty. You win the fight and go home. The next day you discover someone filmed the fight and it’s all over the news and YouTube. You watch the news broadcast and discover the media has edited the fight and only shows you beating the guy who just seconds earlier tried to take away your gun. They show the clip over and over again. Even you begin to think you over reacted.


Soon a maelstrom of vocal people are calling for an investigation including the President of the United States. Later a jury sees the entire video and acquits you. But it’s too late, you have been tried and convicted by the media. Your career is over. I’ve seen cops arrested then later acquitted when all the facts were presented. Rodney King happened over twenty-four years ago and is still brought up regularly. This is happening all across the United States. That scares a cop. These types of incidents are usually followed by a large lawsuit filed against you, the city you work for, and the Chief of Police. I’ve seen police officers homestead their homes so they don’t lose them in the lawsuit.


“Officer Needs Help” calls scare a cop.  In the 70’s some LAPD car radios had what we called cheaters. A cheater was a second radio that allowed everyone to hear an officers broadcast. This allowed an officer to know what other officers were doing and where they were doing it. The main point was you could hear the officer’s voice inflection. Was he excited or calm?  Ok, the scary part—the cheater radio suddenly blasts out “Officer needs Help.” The officer is screaming into the microphone. Your adrenaline has jumped so high you can hardly breathe. It doesn’t matter how close or how far you are from this officer you’re going to break all department rules to go to his aid. If the officer adds, “Shots Fired or Officer Down” to his broadcast, you’re glad you wore your ballistic vest and you unlock the shotgun. Are you scared? Bet your ass you are! Scared for the officer, scared for his wife and family. It may take hours for the adrenaline to leave your body.


Here’s another one that scares cops. You’re on a day off or just off hours. You’re relaxing in your living room watching the ball game. They break into the game to announce, “Breaking News.” An LAPD officer has been shot in the division where you work. Of course it could be any division, we move around in LAPD. They don’t have much information and they hopefully don’t give out the officer’s name. So you sit there and rack your brain, who’s working today and what are my partner’s days off? Yea, you could call the station and try to get some information but you know their busy, so you just wait. You just wait and listen to the news men report what they don’t know. That scares you.


Even after they report the officer’s name, and if you don’t know him/her, you’re still scared. Is he or she married and a father or mother. How old are the children? It scares you because you know that could be you someday.


You finally retire and figure nothing is going to scare you anymore. Wait, your son or daughter has decided to follow you into the noble profession of police work. You’re proud but you know the dangers. Suddenly all the above fears come rushing back only with a few new ones. Now you know what your spouse went through all those years. A late night phone call or knock at the door will send chills up your spine. Ok, the phone call was a drunk asking if this is Madam Whoopee’s all night massage parlor, but try getting back to sleep after that. The knock on the door is never good, especially if the people on your front porch are wearing uniforms.


Ok, now you know some of the things that scare cops and I’ll bet I missed a few. Give me your fears and I’ll add them to my list.  Oh by the way some cops really are afraid of snakes.       


More Street Stories

You’re Not A Cop Until You Taste Them (A Rookie’s Story)

This article is re-posted from one of my favorite sites: The Badge of Life Canada

Author Bernie Moss is a “Senior officer for the Corpus Christi Police Department.
The department was all astir, there was a lot of laughing and joking due to all the new officers, myself included, hitting the streets today for the first time. After months of seemingly endless amounts of classes, paperwork, and lectures we were finally done with the Police Academy and ready to join the ranks of our department. All you could see were rows of cadets with huge smiles and polished badges. As we sat in the briefing room, we could barely sit still anxiously awaiting our turn to be introduced and given our beat assignment or, for the lay person, our own portion of the city to “serve and protect.”

It was then that he walked in. A statue of a man – 6 foot 3 and 230 pounds of solid muscle, he had black hair with highlights of gray and steely eyes that make you feel nervous even when he wasn’t looking at you. He had a reputation for being the biggest and the smartest officer to ever work our fair city. He had been on the department for longer than anyone could remember and those years of service had made him into somewhat of a legend. The new guys, or “rookies” as he called us, both respected and feared him. When he spoke even, the most seasoned officers paid attention. It was almost a privilege when one the rookies got to be around when he would tell one of his police stories about the old days. But we knew our place and never interrupted for fear of being shooed away. He was respected and revered by all who knew him. After my first year on the department I still had never heard or saw him speak to any of the rookies for any length of time. When he did speak to them all he would say was, “So, you want to be a policeman do you hero? I’ll tell you what, when you can tell me what they taste like, then you can call yourself a real policeman.” This particular phrase I had heard dozens of times. Me and my buddies all had bets about “what they taste like” actually referred to. Some believed it referred to the taste of your own blood after a hard fight. Others thought it referred to the taste of sweat after a long day’s work. Being on the department for a year, I thought I knew just about everyone and everything.

So one afternoon, I mustered up the courage and walked up to him. When he looked down at me, I said “You know, I think I’ve paid my dues. I’ve been in plenty of fights, made dozens of arrests, and sweated my butt off just like everyone else. So what does that little saying of yours mean anyway?” With that, he merely stated, “Well, seeing as how you’ve said and done it all, you tell me what it means, hero.” When I had no answer, he shook his head and snickered, “rookies,” and walked away.

The next evening was to be the worst one to date. The night started out slow, but as the evening wore on, the calls became more frequent and dangerous. I made several small arrests and then had a real knock down drag out fight. However, I was able to make the arrest without hurting the suspect or myself. After that, I was looking forward to just letting the shift wind down and getting home to my wife and daughter. I had just glanced at my watch and it was 11:55, five more minutes and I would be on my way to the house. I don’t know if it was fatigue or just my imagination, but as I drove down one of the streets on my beat, I thought I saw my daughter standing on someone else’s porch. I looked again but it was not my daughter as I had first thought but merely a small child about her age. She was probably only six or seven years old and dressed in an oversized shirt that hung to her feet. She was clutching an old rag doll in her arms that looked older than me. I immediately stopped my patrol car to see what she was doing outside her house at such an hour by herself. When I approached, there seemed to be a sigh of relief on her face. I had to laugh to myself, thinking she sees the hero policeman come to save the day. I knelt at her side and asked what she was doing outside. She said “My mommy and daddy just had a really big fight and now mommy won’t wake up.” My mind was reeling. Now what do I do? I instantly called for backup and ran to the nearest window. As I looked inside I saw a man standing over a lady with his hands covered in blood, her blood. I kicked open the door, pushed the man aside and checked for a pulse, but unable to find one. I immediately cuffed the man and began doing CPR on the lady. It was then I heard a small voice from behind me, “Mr. Policeman, please make my mommy wake up.” I continued to perform CPR until my backup and medics arrived but they said it was too late. She was dead. I then looked at the man. He said, “I don’t know what happened. She was yelling at me to stop drinking and go get a job and I had just had enough. I just shoved her so she would leave me alone and she fell and hit her head.” As I walked the man out to the car in handcuffs, I again saw that little girl. In the five minutes that has passed, I went from hero to monster. Not only was I unable to wake up her mommy, but now I was taking daddy away too. Before I left the scene, I thought I would talk to the little girl. To say what, I don’t know. Maybe just to tell her I was sorry about her mommy and daddy. But as I approached, she turned away and I knew it was useless and I would probably make it worse. As I sat in the locker room at the station, I kept replaying the whole thing in my mind. Maybe if I would have been faster or done something different, just maybe that little girl would still have her mother. And even though it may sound selfish, I would still be the hero.

It was then that I felt a large hand on my shoulder. I heard that all too familiar question again, “Well, hero, what do they taste like?” But before I could get mad or shout some sarcastic remark, I realized that all the pent up emotions had flooded the surface and there was a steady stream of tears cascading down my face. It was at that moment that I realized what the answer to his question was. Tears. With that, he began to walk away, but he stopped. “You know, there was nothing you could have done differently,” he said. “Sometimes you can do everything right and still the outcome is the same. You may not be the hero you once thought you were, but now you ARE a police officer.”


Ramblings by Hal

Retirement part 2

By Hal Collier


In the last Ramblings I discussed being G.P. General Public. That just means that I don’t have an automatic source of information from my former employer because I retired. I’m still a cop and will be until I die!


I spent thirty-five years developing that cop sixth sense. My training and experience made me a product of my environment. I still sit with my back to a wall facing the door at restaurants. I still open doors with my left hand, leaving my gun hand free, although I’ll admit that I don’t carry my gun everywhere anymore.


I go shopping with my wife and I see shoplifters. I have gotten away from seeing blatant traffic violations and screaming, “Where’s a cop when you need him?” I can drive past a donut shop and not want to stop for a cup of coffee; I still don’t eat donuts. I’ll admit that I drink Starbucks coffee now with the sissy sleeve so you don’t burn your hand, but when I order coffee it’s still only one word, COFFEE.  No half this, half that and no squirts or splashes of anything else.


So, what does a retired cop do to pass the time, known as the “Golden Years?” It depends on the cop. Some retire after twenty years and take a second job. They get their smaller pension and collect a paycheck as well. I had lunch with a retired cop the other day and he was collecting four pensions. Twenty years with LAPD, and three other smaller pensions. Before you call some investigative news team, he earned every pension. .


Joseph Wambaugh author
Joseph Wambaugh author

Others spent thirty-five years with LAPD to draw a bigger pension and retire for good. Some higher-ranking officers retire from LAPD and become Chiefs of Police for other departments. Quite a few start their own businesses, usually police-related. Security, private investigation, personal bodyguard. Then there’s that strange group of officers who write books, following in the footsteps of Joseph Wambaugh.


A lot of cops retire and travel. They spend time with their spouses to make up for the time they missed while working. Sadly, some die within five years due to the stress and challenges of a difficult job. Many retired cops have disability pensions and others just have bad backs, worn-out knees, or post-traumatic stress. Yea, just like a war veteran.

I still have police dreams, you know the ones where your gun won’t fire, or you can’t run away from danger.


Some get divorced and their spouse takes half of their pension. So much for that long-range financial plan. Some care for an elderly parent or ill spouse.


The WigglesWhat do those that retire for good do? Some of us became childcare experts. Hopefully, not our own, but the grandkids. I have changed more diapers since I retired than I did when my own kids were toddlers. I have watched more Disney Channel shows than Walt ever did. I can sing the entire song, “Hot Potato,” from the Wiggles. I have bought large sets of Lego’s and Lincoln Logs, again!!! Who threw out my old sets and while I’m at it, where the hell are my baseball cards?


I have dressed a Bratz Doll with my granddaughter as well as armed Luke Skywalker with a light saber for my grandsons. Bus service, to and from school also includes stops at McDonald’s, Jamba Juice, and Burger King.


A lot of cops catch up on home repairs and some learn to cook, without a microwave oven. I mean cook, not BBQ. They just don’t have their own cooking shows, yet. Others garden and some do nothing but attend retirement lunches. More on retirement lunches later!


A large group can’t wait to get out of Los Angeles or California. Cops tend to move to areas that have life styles more conducive to the politics of cops. They also have a desire to save their pension checks from tax collectors in states that will double dip. Double dip means that some states will tax your pension, after California has already taxed it. Ouch!!!


imagesOM61YRFSRetired cops change after they retire. Some grow long hair or wild mustaches, most of us don’t shave everyday unless we want sex, which is not the priority it once was. I once was given spare change while standing in line at Taco Bell!! I guess I needed a shave and a haircut. What the hell, I ordered an extra taco. Retired cops don’t care about being politically correct anymore so be careful if you ask for their honest opinion. You’ll get it and a lecture as well.


A lot of retired cops fish, hunt and golf more than our spouses like, but then I have spent more time shopping than I ever did when I was on the job. Did I mention that I see crooks in every aisle of a store?


The first few years after retirement I would stop by the station where I spent thirty-three years and say hi to old partners. Later, I didn’t know anyone and they didn’t know me. Once some rookie cop wanted to direct me to the senior citizen building. Most retired cops will tell you they don’t miss the job but really miss the partners. Partners bond for life. I few years ago I attended a Hollywood reunion and after five minutes, old partners I hadn’t seen in a decade were my best friends again. The internet lets you stay connected.


A growing trend among retired cops is retirement reunions or monthly lunches. A group of cops living in a geographical area will meet once a month and have breakfast or lunch. Some groups meet every three or four months but have a three day party. Some meet in Las Vegas, Laughlin, Idaho, Montana, or Missouri. A lot meet in L.A. or surrounding counties once a month. Some will drive 50/60 miles for a meal with old cops. That police experience is a bond that never leaves you. It gives us a chance to tell those stories that our spouses don’t want to hear again. One story sparks a memory and then another story is told. The good thing about retired cops is that their memory has failed them and you can tell the same story every month.


Retirement is good but the road to get there was great.       Hal

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: The $50.00 Tomato

Thonie, I started out writing family stories and then progressed to Ramblings.  I still write a family story once in a while.  I wrote this in July.   Hal

By Hal Collier


Hal's $50.00 tomato
Hal’s $50.00 tomato

Did you ever see a $50.00 tomato?


I’m a humble man, I drive a 10 year old car and a 13 year old truck. I live on a fixed income and my Social Security check which will disappear when I have to sign up for Medicare. I’m not poor, but I’ll admit I have underwear that I bought during the Clinton administration. Hey, they still fit.

So people ask why would anyone be a cop?  Well, I’ll tell you in the next few paragraphs. My dad was great with his hands and could make or fix anything. I took shop classes in school and everything I made was an ash tray. Don’t laugh. I have an ash tray with an electrical cord I made in electric shop. Photos available for a nominal fee.


So I made a nice living being a cop. Since retirement I have spread out my interests. I did some wood working in the garage. Want a wood ash tray?


I next tried gardening. How hard could that be? Go to the local hardware store and buy an already grown plant. Take it home and replant it in your back yard. Easy—right? Wrong, if you have an orange thumb as my wife describes my gardening talents. I’ve planted flowers, roses, vegetables, fruit and cactus. I have eventually killed them all—even the cactus.


Every spring, I think this will be different. I’ll get mature tomato plants, buy new soil, free from contaminates of previous failures. I’ll tend to them and make sure that this year will be different.


With new enthusiasm I drive to OSH.  My wife’s proud of me when I walk right by the tool sale and BBQ supply section. We head directly into the garden. We pick out three nice tomato plants. We’re not going to put all our eggs in one basket so to speak. We buy three different kinds of tomato plants. One cherry, one beef steak and some exotic tomato that has different colors inside when you cut it open.


We next pick up two bags of dirt and a jug of vegetable plant food and three large planting pots. We head home. I plant the tomatoes and I even read the instructions, full sun, and water every few days until plant is established.


Flash forward one month. The tomato plants are growing and flower buds are sprouting out.  I’m going to beat the orange thumb curse. Another two weeks later I have six small tomatoes, three each on only two plants. The third plant seems to be dying from the inside out. The curse returns.


I’m going to spare you the slow death of my tomato plants and the few that survived my orange thumb. The bottom line is I spent about $50.00 on plants and supplies and got the tomato pictured. Don’t even ask me how it tasted, I put it up for sale on E-Bay to try and recoup my expenses. Hurry you only have one week to bid on my tomato.


Now you see why I was a cop.




Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Jury Duty, part 2

Jury Duty

part 2

By Hal Collier



Last week, I wrote about my first day of jury duty.  A short recap is I sat in the assembly room for 7 1/2 hours and then was told to report to Department 108 the following week.  It was going to be a 30 day trial–that’s 6 weeks in real time.  The only excuses were financial hardship (my pension disqualifies me from that), medical impairment or hardship (I think my twitch is back), or caring for small children or an elderly parent.  Now I do take care of grandchildren 1 or 2 days a week, but that’s because I like to spend time with them. 


I’m screwed. 


I asked for advice from former cops that have experienced getting out of jury duty.  Some of the responses I received were helpful, some would only find me in contempt of court.  A few samples:  Tell the defense that your experience in law enforcement will prejudice you toward the prosecution.  That should work.  Another advises to tell them your dog is pregnant and you don’t know who the father is.  That sounds like a few hours in the holding tank.  I received advice from 3 different states.  My sister, always the positive one, remarked that the jury duty experience would supply me with more stories to share.  I think I would rather exchange stories with RJ about his putting pennies in a bag of water over a door to keep out flies.  Another friend suggested that I denounce my citizenship. He said in his county they are only expected to call in one day.  A former cop had the best answer.  Explain the many reviews that go into a filing and the prosecution of the dirt bag.  In laymen terms that’s means if it goes this far—he is guilty.


I spent many nights lying awake, rehearsing my story.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing my civic duty, but after 35 years of being a cop I figure I’ve done my share.  6 weeks sitting in a room listening to liberal lawyers trying to confuse a jury is not my idea of retirement.


The big day comes, I’m prepared.  I’m nervous, just like before taking an oral interview for promotion.  I have to be in court at 1:30.  I drive downtown early and arrive at 1:00 P.M.  I walk the 1/4 mile down Bunker Hill to get to the court house.  There is a long line to get through the metal detectors.  I get in line and see a Hollywood officer I used to supervise. He is in the short “officer only” line.  Another reminder, I’m GP—general public.  I remove everything from my pockets and step through the metal detector.  I’m advised that I have a handcuff key on my key ring and have to turn it in to the sheriff’s deputy.  Now, I have authority to carry my handgun, a fully loaded 9 mm semi-automatic, but there I am, turning in my hand cuff key.


I arrive on the 9th floor which is packed, mostly jurors, like myself. Another metal detector, I’m clean.  I find a seat on the bench and wait.  I see two former Hollywood detectives get off the elevator.  I say “hi” but they ignore me at first.  I forgot, I’m wearing my “Jury” badge.  Again, I’m GP.  No one is supposed to talk to jurors.  They are in a different court room. Damn, I was hoping for a conflict to get excused.  I see a gentlemen walking down the hall, he looks familiar. He looks at me and there is a look of recognition.  I believe I have arrested him some time but can’t place his face.  He enters another court.


My court clerk comes out and calls roll.  Only one juror is absent.  I’m amazed, because my group has 58 potential jurors.  After 30 minutes we’re herded into the court room and seated.  I recognize the judge, I think I testified before him just before I retired, maybe another conflict.  The judge explains that the trial will last 6 weeks, possibly ending just before Christmas.  It’s a murder trial, with special circumstances, that means death penalty.  We are then given a 15 page questionnaire and sent back out into the hall.  Each question has sub-questions.  If you answer yes, explain, same for no answers.  They want to know my views on the death penalty, illegal Immigrants, drug dealers, gun ownership, well—you get the picture.  I could do a whole page on “would you give more weight to a police officer’s testimony?”.   I’m worried my pen might run out of ink.  The witness list has more names then the USC football roster.  I recognize a few LAPD officers, maybe another conflict. Okay, I really don’t want to spend 6 weeks hiking up and down Bunker Hill. 


We turn in our questionnaires and are ordered back in one week.  Swell, another week of waking up in the middle of the night rehearsing my reasons for being excused.  I’m seriously thinking of using the pregnant dog excuse.  If I’m in lock-up I won’t be on the jury.  I might even be taken off the jury summons mailing list.


D-Day I think I’m finally going to get excused, I sail right through both metal detectors, I’m become a pro.  I find a seat in the hall and wait.  I’m listening to jurors from another court case, they’re on day 15—yikes.  I see the two defense attorneys enter the courtroom, they have California Berkeley written all over them.  The court bailiff comes out into the hall and states, “Raise your hand if you’re a juror in Department 108”.  Ok this it, time to give your well prepared excuse.  The deputy states, “The court has successfully picked a jury and you are all excused.”  First there was silence, then some applause, then a dash for the elevators.  I’m guessing they had 2 jury pools, one in the morning and my group in the afternoon.  No complaints.  I’m good for at least a year and then we’ll start all over again. 


I’d like to thank everyone who replied with advice.  I’m not going to have to denounce my citizenship, sit in the lock-up with someone who is blowing me kisses, and have my dog checked for a due date. 


I can just go back to being GP.



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