Roll Call

Roll Call: Matt Dillon and the Hooded Gangsters

By Mikey, Retired LAPD

As the adjutant to the Hollywood Divisional Commanding Officer there was a lot things like additional duties, reports, work assignments that I could do myself or assign to personnel. One of the unpopular duties was to take celebrities out on patrol to show them what field patrol was like. One of the additional duties Hollywood Division got was taking actors out on patrol to “familiarize” them with some of the technical things patrol personnel do on a daily basis. I received a phone call from downtown that actors Matt Dillon and Ryan Phillippe were coming to the division for some of the technical training.  The men were going to co-star in the 2004 movie Crash.

Crash 2005

The captain felt that I should be the Hollywood supervisor to escort the actors during their “training” ride-along. I prepared for the assignment by asking downtown if this was a generic or specific purpose ride-along. I was told it was a generic, have a good time ride-along, cool. Matt and Ryan arrived on a Monday and the informal training started: the wearing of the uniform, hand-cuffing, searches (no, I did not teach Matt to search with the baton), the proper stance for a drawn weapon and so on. Ryan stayed the day but Matt wanted to come back the next day as well. He was very interested in learning what it was like being a police officer both on and off duty. He started observing things and got pretty good at it. I took him to jail division to watch the booking process and several of the “hand-cuffed to the bench” arrestees gave Matt some broad smiles when they recognized him. 

Our last night was very interesting. It was extremely busy, and I took him to any call that I thought he’d get something out of. We were stopped facing south on Las Palmas Avenue at Selma Avenue waiting for cross traffic when a west bound vehicle deliberately steered into us and turned away at the last minute. We had just been baited for a following or a “stop us if you dare.” I started a following and explained to Matt what was happening. There were four occupants in the ride ahead and they all had their hoods up over their heads. I explained to Matt that our chances of getting back-up in a timely manner would be difficult and the civilian traffic would make it difficult for any kind of proper stop. AND I told him that the remainder of the year and the beginning of the next would be the worst for me if HE was injured or seriously killed.

Matt Dillon
Ryan Phillippe

I checked the plate and found no wants or warrants, the address came back to a residence in the south side of the city. I looked over at Matt and his eyes were as big as saucers.

He looked at me and asked, “Do you smoke?” 

I said “no.”

He asked, “Do mind if I light up a cigar?” 

As we were pulling into the parking lot of Hollywood station, Matt said, “You said my charter is a training officer, and would have two stripes.” 

“Yup” was my reply. 

“You are a Sergeant; could you be a training officer too?”

“I’m training you. I’m gonna were three stripes if I can swing it, thanks for all of your help.”

Matt went on to get nominated for best supporting actor in his role. The day of the Academy Awards, I arrived at the station and walked into the watch commander’s office heading for the sergeant’s room when one of my female officers and a female communications tech stopped me.  

“Sarge, Matt Dillon called for you. I recognized his voice, and here is his number.”

I looked at his number then at the two women. They had that LOOK in their eyes.

“No, I’m not calling him now.” 

Later on that night I arrived to Hollywood and Highland to where the awards were being held and saw an off-duty copper I know who was working security for event, in a tux, ear piece and all.

“Dave, when Matt Dillon comes out, let him know I’m here.”

“What?” Dave asked.

I repeated myself and I told him that he was expecting me. Fifteen minutes later, Matt and his entourage came out of complex and Dave approached Matt. Matt spotted me and waived me onto the red carpet. I was introduced to his people and after a warm conversation; he went to his parties and went back onto patrol.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Boy, that was close!

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Did you ever have an incident happen to you that made you think, boy, that was close? I’m sure that I’m not the only one who just barely escaped death. Soldiers from any of the recent conflicts could probably give you lots of incidents when they just missed being a sad memory. Well I’m living proof that you can survive an almost “Ah shit,” right here in America!


1983_Ford_Sierra_dashboard_(base_model)The closest I came was early one morning when Neil Diamond saved my life! I was working day watch and I liked to get my workout in before roll call. I would get up at 4 AM, shave, grab my lunch that my wife made me and get on the road. Now I only lived eleven miles from work so my commute was about 20 minutes. Very little traffic that time of the morning, mostly big rig trucks and few other knot-heads like me who start early. Oh, there were a few who were on their way home after a night on the town!


A semi-truck is in the #3 lane next to me. I’m about to cross under the 5 freeway when Neil Diamond comes on my truck radio. He was singing Brother Love’s a Travelling Salvation Show. I loved that song and turned up the volume. I was in a better mood and hoping for a good workout.


Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond


I’ve been driving this route to work for about 30 years and know that the #3 lane next to me funnels into my lane around the corner. I figure I’ll move over 1 lane so the semi-truck will have a lane to move into. It saved my life. I no sooner changed lanes when a car driving the wrong way comes around the corner and passes between the semi and me. I didn’t even have time to swear. I look over at the semi driver and his eyes were as big as mine. My heart was pounding and I figured my workout will never top the blood now flowing through my veins.


I never heard if he crashed or was caught but, even now, I always turn up Neil Diamond on the radio.


This was not a lifesaving event but then you never know. I was driving a plain detectives’ car but we were in full uniform. We were chasing the prostitutes on Sunset Boulevard. We had stopped at the intersection of Sunset and La Brea, in the left turn lane, heading for a cup of Winchell’s coffee. The light turned green and we waited for on-coming traffic to clear.


I suddenly heard a car racing up behind me! I look in the rear-view mirror and see this large sedan barreling toward our rear bumper. I only have time to yell to Randy, my partner, “hold on.”

At the last instance, the car swerved to the left just missing our rear bumper. The sedan slammed into another car head-on going the other way. The crash sent car debris flying all around us. I took a big breath and asked Randy, “you ok?”

Randy replies, “I think so.”

We get out of our car and check on the drivers. The sedan driver is DUI (drunk) and the other driver has moderate injuries. Boy, that was close for us!  I know of two other Hollywood officers who were rear ended by a drunk driver and had to be pensioned off with severe back injuries. I was too young for a pension!


The third incident happened when I was working a super-undercover assignment. We were plain clothes and worked the entire West Bureau of the LAPD. We had worked in Wilshire Division that night and just finished our shift.

LAPD Crown VicWe were standing in the parking lot of the Wilshire police Station and we were debriefing the nights activities.  Ok, we were standing behind the open trunk of a car drinking beer. That’s a big no no in the LAPD Manual. We had been debriefing for about one beer, oh, I mean 20 minutes when a shot rang out and whizzed past my head! We all ducked as a reaction but since the bullet has already missed us, a late response.

We don’t have a clue where the bullet came from and didn’t want to answer questions of why we were violating a department rule. We all got into our private vehicles drove home. I wonder who recovered the beer we left behind in the parking lot.

A day later one of our group asked a Wilshire officer about the shooter. He replied, “Yea, don’t hang around in the parking lot. There’s some nut who takes pot shots at cops every so often.”

My question was how could a LAPD police station allow someone to shoot at the police and ignore it?



Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Motor Cops, part 1

By Hal Collier

I usually only write my Ramblings about an incident where I was present or got from numerous reliable sources.  This Ramblings is different.  Some of the incidents I observed and others were passed on to me from former partners.  After writing this, I sent them to my sources for corrections and verifications.  This is what I came up with.

LAPD Motor Officer
LAPD Motor Officer

I sent out a survey to former motor cops and some of these observations are theirs and others are mine.  I never wanted to ride a police motorcycle, or for that matter any motorcycle on a city street.  When I was in high school, I had a friend who quit the baseball team and the next day he was in a bad motorcycle accident and lost his leg.  I have dirt bikes that both my son and I ride.  Your chances of survival hitting a pucker bush were better than crashing into a parked car or other fixed object.

Police motor cops are a different breed.  It doesn’t matter what police agency you work for.  It doesn’t matter how big or how small your department is, they’re just different than other cops.  Some smaller departments have a rotation system.  You ride motors for six months then you work patrol for six months, then maybe a stint as a detective.  LAPD motor cops are there because they want to or they have a fear of dying in their original skin.  The LAPD Motor Officer School is very difficult. It weeds out the casual weekend rider.  A flunked-out motor cop once described LAPD motor school: they give you a mouth full of marbles.  Every time you dump your motorcycle in school you spit out a marble.  When you lose all your marbles, you’re a LAPD motor cop.
In high school, I worked at a hamburger restaurant that was owned by Ivan, a LAPD motorcycle cop. They are called BCMC, “Big City Motor Cops.” He told

LAPD Officer crash southbound 110 in South LA, Nov. 2010
LAPD Officer crash southbound 110 in South LA, Nov. 2010. More than a “dust-up”. Click on the photo, wait for the stupid ad, then watch the news video.

me that all motor cops “go down”, cop vernacular for having an accident.  Ivan told me it was a matter of when and how bad.  Robbie, another BCMC called them “dust offs” for non-serious accidents. “Dust-off” means you get up, dust off your uniform and don’t report it.  The LAPD motor officers wore a tie bar that had the number of years you didn’t have a reported accident.  It was a motor cops badge of honor. Hell, I’ll admit I used to look at the number of years myself.

They have their own ideas of what is important as far as police enforcement.  Most motor cops would rather arrest a drunk driver than a bank robber.  They think twice before giving up a good ticket to go to a robbery in progress radio call.  Once, I was walking a footbeat when a motor cop asked for a back up.  I ran four blocks down Hollywood Boulevard to assist this motor cop.  As I rounded the corner, the cop was leaning against a parking meter as a heated family dispute was going on in the street.  He wasn’t going to step in until they committed a traffic violation.  On the other hand, I’ve seen motor cops driving on Hollywood Boulevard sidewalks clearing pedestrians with the siren responding to a officers request for back up.  It was right out of a movie.
Ed Meckle recalls two motor cops who stopped a jay walker.  While one officer wrote the ticket, the second officer saw a man hobble out of a jewelry store, gagged and his hands duct-taped.  Their jay walker had just robbed the jewelry store but the officers were upset that they would lose hours of ticket writing.  They gave the the robbery suspect his ticket as they closed the cell door.
Some motor cops that I knew were a little crazy. Yea, I thought of better words but crazy fit the best.  Kathy described a motor cop named Lee who would put a traffic cone on his helmet as he drove up and down the street in front of the station. Lee would also put his helmet on backwards and sing “I’m a love machine” while dancing around the Hollywood Station Lobby.
One of the Garcia brothers would drive up and down Hollywood Boulevard at night with his siren blaring and he would put his boots on the pavement.  The sparks would fly off the taps on his heels.  That was always a crowd pleaser.  Pat  told of Bob Fiacco who smoked cigars all the time.  When he got off his motor to write a ticket he would put his cigar on the mic cord.  If he forgot about the cigar it would burn through the cord.  He carried spare mic cords in his saddle bags.  If crazy doesn’t fit these guys than I am.
I was working fire escort during the last few days of the 1991 LA Riots.  The Department and politicians called it civil unrest, but I was on the streets and nothing was civil about what happened.  (See my Ramblings Riots Trilogy – coming soon.)  So I’m sitting in the fire station waiting for the next call when a motor cop comes in.  He removes his shirt and gun belt, plops down in the large air craft seats that the firemen use for watching TV.  A few minutes later two more motor cops enter and the same thing happens. Soon there’s ten motor cops in various stages of undress.  I later learned that motor cops always hide from their supervisors in fire stations for a break.   Craig said that he was conducting escort duty for President Reagan and stopped at a fire station during a break.  The firemen filled his helmet with shaving cream.  
My next Ramblings I’ll talk about other motor cops that made me laugh and some that made me cry.   Hal
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