Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings Reprise: Foot Beat Stories 3

The following are a reprise of Hal’s favorite posts–Foot Beat Stories. Today’s is 3 of 4 first posted in 2013. Next week will feature the wind up of his foot beat stories and the week after, readers will enjoy new material from Hal Collier. –Thonie

I’m re-posting this as it didn’t go out over social media on Sunday as it’s supposed to. –Thonie

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

The following stories are true to best of my fading memory.  I only worked a foot beat for 3 1/2 years but boy, did I pack a lot of fun into those 42 months.  I just spent a month learning how to walk in the daylight. Now, I’m off to mid PM’s which is a little different.  I’m going to work with “Dan”—another long time foot beat officer.


At the time, Hollywood Division had two officers name Dan. One was referred to as the “crazy” Dan.  Lucky for me I worked with the other one, but there was some debate on that.  Ok, I’m going to be working in the dark. I’ve got the walk down, I can do bar and porno theater checks, but I’m going to miss London Britches and the Artisan’s Patio.


Dan was a lot different than J.J. Brown.  Dan was younger, had less patience and was quicker to anger. This should be fun and a challenge. Dan was working his way up to the Gene Fogerty style of a foot beat cop: my Boulevard, my rules and no questions.


Dan carried a straight baton just like the rest of us, but he attached a leather thong which allowed him to spin it as he walked along. It was right out of the 50’s.


My first night walking with Dan, he suggested we eat at Ernesto’s, an Italian restaurant next to the Egyptian Theater. You know, working nights might be nice. On Morning Watch we only had few places to eat, Copper Penny, Copper Skillet and Pinks if you ate before 1 A.M.


We sat in a booth at Ernesto’s and the waiter greeted Dan like a brother. He brought us each a cup of coffee, but no cream. I’ll suffer. I took a sip, it’s not coffee–it was red wine. I don’t want to spoil the mood but I don’t drink wine and switch for a cup of coffee.


A few weeks later we finish a meal at Ernesto’s, lasagna and garlic bread. I’m going to need an hour to walk off dinner. It’s Saturday night and Hollywood Boulevard is packed.  Traffic is bumper to bumper in both directions. We see this jerk in a pick-up truck let the car ahead of him move up 30 feet.  He then pops the clutch, spinning the tires then slams on the brakes.


Dan says, “I’ll show you how we handle these type of guys.”  We walk between cars and up to the truck that’s stopped. We both approach the driver’s window.  Dan reached in and removed a 40 ounce bottle of beer. Dan then grabbed the driver’s hands while I reached in to shut off the ignition. Traffic in front of us cleared and the driver popped the clutch. The truck lurched forward spilling Dan and me into the middle of Hollywood Boulevard.


The truck made a quick right turn on Mc Cadden and almost hit a guy on a motorcycle. The guy on the motorcycle is pissed and he says to Dan, “hop on” and well go get him.  Dan declines—see, he’s not the crazy one. The guy in the truck sped up and slammed into a light pole. Guess he couldn’t drive without a 40 ounce of beer between his legs.


This is where it really got fun. The guy in the truck staggered out of his now wrecked truck and was planning his escape. This stranger on a motorcycle tells the truck driver hop on, the cops are coming. The truck driver jumps on the back of the motorcycle and the motorcycle guy turns around and dumps the felon at our feet. Bet you never saw that on Adam 12. No one would have believed it. 


A week later Dan and I were standing in front of our Captain. Apparently our foot beat tactics and Boulevard Rules were not the same as department rules. We both got a notice to correct.


I learned many more lessons on walking a foot beat and now I’m ready to fly on my own, on Morning watch.


Dan and his partner Tim’s police careers were cut short a few months later when their police car was rear ended by a drunk driver. They both suffered back injuries and had to be pensioned off. We lost two good cops and a wealth Hollywood Boulevard foot beat experience.


Next chapter, it’s my foot beat and I’ll have to prove I’m worthy.     Hal 

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Sleeping and the Job

Hal Collier’s next 5 posts will be on Graveyard Shift and how it impacts a the life of an emergency service worker: Dispatchers, Medics, and Firefighters all have to live this way. Firefighters can sleep on the job sometimes but my husband came home dog tired many times because he was up all night on fires or a multi-casualty incident (known as MCI’s in the biz…) of varying types. On another note: I never could split my sleep the way Hal describes. After work, I fell into bed and slept (mostly) 6-7 hours. I also never could have a beer at 7 am. But everyone has their method of coping with the conflicting body rhythms of a graveyard shift. Some don’t cope as well as others. At Petaluma PD one night, a new dispatcher–a cocky young man–insisted to his partners that he never slept on the job. That was until a co-worker tied his shoelaces together one night. The co-worker arranged to have one of the officers flip on his siren and open his mic at the same time. Well, that young dispatcher learned to be cautious of his boasting in the future.




By Hal Collier

I have been writing my Ramblings for over three years and get a lot of comments.  Some encourage me to keep writing, some suggest that I’m verbose (wordy).  Some suggest that I take up knitting.  Some claim that they never committed anything that might be misconduct and they always were professional.  Of course memories fade, I will always be 160 lbs.


I leave everyone’s memory of their career to themselves.  Me, I did some things for entertainment that the department might not like.  I didn’t commit any crimes but I played practical jokes that today would be considered a hostile work environment.  I also accepted a free cup of coffee or a bag of sunflower seeds.  I ate at restaurants that gave cops half price meals, all against Department rules.  I did wear my seatbelt and stopped at stop signs.  I was laughed at for stopping at the stop sign at the police academy.



Photo by  dreamstime
Photo by dreamstime

Working AM watch was living like an owl.  You work all night then sleep during the day.  At night, you go hunting for prey then return to your nest.  As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I worked a lot of Morning Watch as AM watch was called.  Of my thirty-five years on the LAPD I worked Morning Watch nineteen years.  In the beginning, it was the department’s idea.  Later, it was mine.  I fell in love a second time! 


I graduated from the Police Academy on a beautiful Friday.  Saturday night I was working Hollywood Morning Watch.  Morning Watch started at 11:30 P.M. on the day before you were scheduled to work.  It was confusing at first but I figured it out. But try explaining to a non-police person.  If you’re working on Monday the 2nd, you go to work at 11:30 PM on the 1st.  You are invited to a party on the 9th.  Don’t take the 9th as your day off, you have to take the 10th.  Got it? Some never figured it out.


My first day, I figured I needed to take a nap before work.  Last thing a probationer needs to do is fall asleep during his first day on the job.  I hope four hours will get me through the night.  Ok, I’m more excited than a five-year-old on Christmas Eve and I’m going to take a nap.  OK, I’m a rookie at sleeping in the daytime.  I lie down and toss and turn for three hours.  It’s no use-I’m wide awake.  I yawn on my way to work that night.



Copper Skillet
Copper Skillet

I found out that a Saturday night in Hollywood is not dull or slow at all.  We race from call to call, stop a kid from committing suicide.  At 4 AM I’m sitting in the Copper Skillet eating breakfast.  I drive home as the sun is rising and people are going to church.  I get home and take off my uniform.  I didn’t get a locker until I had been in Hollywood for over a month.


I’d spent an hour telling Terri, my wife, about every minute of my first night, including the pancakes I had for breakfast.  Then, I went to bed and spent a good four hours sleeping.  I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.  Later in the evening I got another two hours of sleep, and went to work.  This sleeping in the daytime might take some practice.


Two days later, I get a few days off. Yea, that’s right a Wednesday, Thursday.  You didn’t think a rookie was going to get a weekend off, did you?  So after work, you are tired but it’s your day off and you don’t want to sleep it away.  You try to stay awake but by 6 PM you’re asleep on the couch.  After seven hours of sound sleep, you now wake up well rested.  The only problem is it’s 3 AM.


I needed a new method.  After all those years, my system was take a four hour nap before work after a day off.  I sleep four hours after work with a day off ahead.  This worked for me and after a while I had no problem sleeping during the day.


Of course no system is perfect.  During the first year of my probation, Terri was working and I had the house to myself, except for my dog and the telephone.  The dog barked at the door to door salesmen, as well as the mailman. 


phone ringingThe telephone was a different story.  Non-police friends would call during the middle of the day and say, “Hey Hal, what are you doing?” 

“I was sleeping, I have to work tonight.” 

Non-police friends soon become non-friends.  They just don’t understand and who wants to go out on the town on Wednesday night?  Cops are accused of only hanging out with other cops and that’s part of the reason.


Another time I was exhausted and was in a deep sleep.  The phone kept ringing so I got up and answered it.  “Hello this is the LA Times and I’m offering you a 1 year subscription for half price.” I lost my usual congenial personality.  I told him where he could put his rag newspaper and if he wanted help, I’m off Thursday.


Another time I was sound asleep and I hear my 2 year-old-son running down the hallway toward our bedroom.  I hear Terri yelling, “Bob, don’t wake up your father.”  Bob runs faster than Terri and threw a metal Tonka Dump Truck, onto the bed. It hit an area 8 inches below my navel.  See if you can get back to sleep after a shot to your ????.


Next I’ll talk about court, days off, and split shifts of sleep.     Hal

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