Ramblings by Hal Street Stories

Ramblings from Hal: Reprise of A Funny

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Originally posted August 2013, I thought it would be fun to read some of Hal’s classic pieces. -Thonie

The following is not really a practical joke, it’s just funny as hell.  I worked a Morning Watch Foot beat on Hollywood Boulevard in the late 70’s.  As I’ve said before, it was probably the best job I ever had. For my police friends, yes, there was plenty of work to do on morning watch.  Remember, Hollywood never closes and after midnight most of the crime involved drugs, prostitution and street crimes.  I actually walked my foot beat until 5 A.M.

It’s about 2 A.M. and I’m talking with my sergeant, a former Metro cop, and a good guy.  I’m about a half of block from the famed Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard. We’re discussing our new lieutenant who would need a street guide to find Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. We see two obviously intoxicated fellows walking toward us.  They need the entire width of the sidewalk to keep from falling into the street. As they near, we notice that one of the chaps has a Metro door panel under his arm. For my non-police friends, a Metro door panel is a magnetic panel, 4 ft by 3 ft that Metro officers attach to the doors of their plain cars.  It has a city seal and the cars shop number.

Ok, my investigative senses kick in and I stop the pair.  I’m thinking they stole it off a parked Metro police car.  I ask where did they get the door panel.  The least drunk of the two slurs, “Hello chaps, we traded for it”.  I detected a strong accent and an even stronger odor of numerous alcoholic beverages. I asked where they were from and they said they were Bobbies (cops) from England, in America on holiday.  I asked again where they got the door panel.  The spokesman said they met a couple of our comrades who invited them to their training site for a few pints. That would be the Police Academy Lounge. They traded a real Bobbie helmet for the door panel. I looked at my Sergeant and he just shrugged his shoulders.  Thank goodness, they were not driving.

Somewhere there is a retired Metro officer with a Bobbie helmet in his den and a retired Bobbie with a Metro door panel on his icebox

The Call Box

The Call Box: Two Short But True Stories

polic-call-box-pedestal-lapd-gamewell-DCAL2786_dt1By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

In May of 2016 when Thonie agreed to give my tales a chance I realized that with a fading memory it would be best to create a list of story ideas as they would occur to me. My handwriting has deteriorated so over the years that when I went to examine the list I got one of three results.

1) I think that will make a good story

2) What the hell was I thinking ?

3) What the devil is “finat whreps snangle”?

Moving my list to the computer helped along with using complete words.

diceHere then are two completely unconnected events in the life and times of Ed Meckle.

Working vice was a real blast. Plain clothes after time in uniform was a little strange but good partners along with a fun assignment made coming to work a pleasure. As the newest guy on the detail I got all the “interesting” jobs, like going through bedroom windows in the middle of the night.

Assigned primarily to gambling enforcement meant arresting “illegal gamblers.” Finding the games was easy. We had a list of regular locations and tips were plentiful. Games usually held in private homes, were so noisy they could be heard a block away. One of us (me) would gain quiet entry to the house and open the door for my partners.

On this occasion I was in plain clothes, going through a back-bedroom window about six feet off the ground. The hour was late and the light in the room was very dim. They boosted me up and as I went through I lost my balance. I fell about 2-3 feet landing on a bed on top of a sleeping male.

Now stop for a moment and think what your reaction would be under these circumstances. I know mine but that’s not what I got.

Sitting bolt upright, he said, “DAMN OFFICER, YOU SCARED ME HALF TO DEATH.”


bus stop silhouettesI have tried to be as circumspect as possible with what follows out of respect for any female readers.


I was working Metro with my regular partner Frank Isbell and we were in uniform in a black and white, assigned to some daytime detail or another in Hollywood.

We were east bound on Hollywood Boulevard crossing Cahuenga. Frank was driving. On the southeast corner was a bus bench occupied by three people with another half dozen standing behind them.

The center person on the bench was a twenties something male with a bouncing newspaper on his lap, head back and eyes closed.

I said, “Bus bench.”

Frank replied, “Got it.”

Three right turns brought us north on Cahuenga to Hollywood. We parked, approaching on foot. Paper was still bouncing, and he still was unaware of our presence.

One of us removed the newspaper. Here goes—he was having carnal knowledge of a cantaloupe. {honest, that’s the best I could do, people}

At the station, we had to admit we don’t have a victim, so he goes to jail for traffic warrants.

I can just hear Hal saying, “OK, so what did he do wrong? This is after all Hollywood!”

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Shoes in the Street

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Every once in a while, you see a news story of a pedestrian who is hit by a car. The TV news shows a pair of shoes in the street. I was first intrigued by why the shoes were left in the street. I sadly learned that when pedestrians were hit by a car they were actually knocked out of their shoes. This is my story of shoes in the street.

As always, I’m working grave yard and it’s about 2:15 AM. I’m driving my black and white eastbound on Hollywood Boulevard as I approach the famous hot dog stand at Hollywood and McCadden. The hot dog stand is famous only to Hollywood cops, bottom feeders and dispatchers. If you needed help and gave the location as the hot dog stand, the dispatcher knew where to send help. Prostitutes, drug dealers and anything else out after 2 A.M. frequent the hot dog stand to ply their trade or support someone else’s tax-free business. When I was walking my foot beat, I made most of my arrests around the hot dog stand. Some even bought the hot dogs, I hear they were pretty good. I never had one, Pink’s had a nicer clientele.

So, as I approach the cross walk I see a pedestrian, about a 20-year-old male, walking southbound. Now, I’m in the #2 lane (2nd lane from the center) which means the #1 lane is unobstructed. I could have gone through the crosswalk without interfering with the pedestrian but I thought this would be a good opportunity to yield and check out the patrons of the hot dog stand. I stopped and my attention was on one individual who seems particularly nervous. He could likely be a candidate for an investigation.

As the pedestrian continued to cross I suddenly hear a car to my left! I only had time to say “oh!” The car hit the pedestrian at about 30 miles an hour.

I’ve heard many stories that when encountering a stressful situation your brain slows everything down. I’m here to tell that is true. I saw the car hit this poor young boy and it was all in very slow motion. I still have that image of that boy being slingshot down Hollywood Boulevard, leaving his shoes in the crosswalk.

The car that just hit this kid immediately pulled to the curb. My partner went and got the driver out and I ran to the kid lying in the middle of the street. He was still alive but not responsive. He died soon after, right in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, his shoes left in the middle of the crosswalk.

My story should end right there but unfortunately it doesn’t. A few days, later I got a phone message from some lady I didn’t know. I called and it was the boy’s mother! She bluntly asked me, “Did my son say anything before he died?”
I lied and told her, “No he didn’t say anything. He died instantly and didn’t suffer.” I still think I made the right decision.

For quite a while after that night as I approached crosswalks I feverishly scanned for pedestrians. Fail to Yield to Pedestrians in a Crosswalk became my favorite ticket. A traffic unit handled the investigation and I never heard if the driver that hit the boy was drunk or what happened.

If there is a lesson to be learned, this is it. Even if you’re in a crosswalk, watch for traffic. I see people on the news all the time in marked crosswalks that have been hit by cars. It won’t make a bit of difference if you’re in the right of way but dead!

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Survival Tactics

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Any cop worth his salt will tell you that deploying good police tactics will save you a lot of aggravation and probably save your life. The aggravation comes later from the after-action investigation. An example: you get in an Officer Involved Shooting (OIS). You survive and just as your breathing begins to return to normal, the investigation begins. Those that investigate will look at everything you did prior, during, and after the shooting. They’ll even check out how you qualified on the shooting range last month. They will pick apart–second by second–what you were thinking, what you and your partner said, and even if you had talked beforehand about what to do in a given circumstance. The people who finally judge your tactics usually have little or no police experience or haven’t been in a black and white since man walked on the moon! That would be the Chief of Police and the civilian Police Commission.  Either way, use good tactics and you survive to go home that day. You can also explain why you did what you did and why you made that decision in a split second. Ok, enough of my politics!
I was a rookie officer in Hollywood Division. I had about three months of real police experience as well as the volumes of training I received in the police academy. I’m working grave yard shift, (11PM to 7Am) and I’m the passenger officer. It’s about 2:30 A.M. and the bars have closed but Hollywood Boulevard is still packed with cars and pedestrians. A call comes out “Rape Just Occurred at Selma and Las Palmas. Suspect’s vehicle described as a dark 4-door sedan, partial license number JOE— and last seen northbound on Las Palmas toward Hollywood Boulevard. Two male white suspects armed with handguns.
We’re in the area and begin looking for the vehicle. The police gods were with us–the suspect’s car makes a turn right in front of us. He drives westbound on Hollywood Boulevard. We pull in behind him and broadcast that were following the rape suspect’s vehicle and request a backup. This was before the police department had helicopters. Hollywood Boulevard heads toward the hills after it crosses La Brea. We decide to make a felony car stop before they get in the hills. We activate our red lights and the suspect’s vehicle immediately pulls to the curb just west of La Brea.
I grab the Ithaca shotgun and exit the car. Department tactics teaches us to crouch down behind the police car door for cover. My adrenalin is surging through my veins and I’m sure the suspects can hear my heart pounding. I look to my right and there’s a large palm tree two feet away. Even as a rookie, I surmise that the palm tree is better cover than a Plymouth car door, bought by the city because it was the lowest bidder.
I move behind the palm tree and using police vernacular, “I jack a round into the chamber.” I slip my finger along the frame and take off the safety. The passenger suspect opens his car door and looks back at our police car.
He has his hands concealed in front of his body and with my best 22- year-old male voice, I yell, “Let me see your hands.”
He looks over at the palm tree and sees me with the shotgun. I’m guessing the barrel of the shotgun looked as big as a canon pointed at his head. He drops something on the floorboard and thrusts his empty hands out the door. We get the driver and passenger out of the vehicle and handcuff them. I searched the passenger side of the suspect’s vehicle. Lying on the floorboard is a loaded 45 cal. auto handgun.
I’m pretty sure my eyes were bigger than the barrel of my shotgun. Later at the station, I ask the passenger if he had planned to use the gun.  He looked me in the eye and coldly said, “I was going to try and shoot it out. I didn’t want to go back to prison! When I looked back at the police car, I didn’t see you. Then, when I saw you behind that big tree with the shotgun, I gave up!”
Later, when I taught tactics at training days I emphasized to look for better cover than a car door. Good tactics will save your life but once in a while you need a little luck!
Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: D/O Sheet Successes, Part 2

By Hal Collier, retired LAPDdo-sheet

In my last Ramblings, I described what a D/O (Daily Occurrence) Sheet was and how I used it. I’m about to tell you how it assisted me in making numerous arrests and the biggest arrest of my career. The LAPD had a saying, “Random Patrol Produces Random Results.” In other words, don’t just drive around and expect a crime to happen in front of you. Patrol where the crime happens and increase your odds. Oh, it happens. I once arrested a robbery suspect while I was just trying to get a cup of coffee. “Random Patrol” was one of the few department theories I bought into.

As I said before, I became a D/O sheet fanatic and was seldom without one or two folded D/O sheets in my sap pocket. I once got a letter with the cover of a news magazine inside from an old partner. The picture on the cover was of a bunch of Hollywood cops stopping some gang members in a gas station. None of the cops could be identified from the picture but this old partner identified me because of the D/O sheets in my sap pocket.


If I had two or three days off, I went to work early and copied the D/O sheets from the days that I missed. I had an unusual amount of success. I would write down named wanted suspects and wanted vehicle license plates. I would review them from time to time to refresh my memory. Sometimes on my way to work I would ask myself, “What am I’m looking for tonight?” and recall what I got off the D/O sheet. I would then look at my officer’s notebook and verify the name or license plate. Some thought I had a photographic memory. No, I just worked at it.


When I was assigned to the Hollywood Boulevard Foot Beat I still kept abreast of what was going on in Hollywood. I once noticed a couple of BFMV (car break ins) at an apartment building just off Hollywood Boulevard. It was just outside of my foot beat responsibility but I didn’t care. So, one quiet night we walked down into the sub-garage and guess what? We caught a car burglar. It was mostly luck and a few D/O sheet clues but my lieutenant thought I was a genius.


Part 3 on November 20, 2016

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings Reprise: Foot Beat Stories 4

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

This is the conclusion of Hal’s Foot Beat Stories. Leave us a comment if you care to ask Hal about his life in LAPD. And as always, I’m here to answer questions, too.  –Thonie

I never expected the foot beat chapter to be this long but once I started, all these memories flooded my brain.  Don’t panic, I’m not ready to climb up on roof like those knuckleheads in Louisiana.  The fond memories even pushed out the thoughts of the ugly daily news.



I asked for and was given a Morning Watch Foot Beat.  I don’t think any other division in the city has a Morning Watch Foot Beat, but then none looked like Hollywood in the late 70’s.  When all the other night and strip clubs closed up Hollywood was just getting started.


My Lieutenant didn’t want me making a bunch of misdemeanor arrests, like lewd conduct in the porno theaters or drunks in a bar.  That was a job for vice.


I had almost 8 years on the job but felt as if I was on probation.  We had to produce or go back to a radio car, handling barking dogs, loud parties and explaining to citizens why we took 3 hours to handle their call for service.


We would clear roll call at 11:30 and park our police car in a taxi zone right next to the Hot Dog Stand.  Well, we were sort of a taxi, we just made one-way trips and didn’t charge a fare.  We would walk one round of the Hollywood Boulevard foot beat boundaries.  La Brea to Vine.  After Midnight there wasn’t much open on the east end and a waste of energy and shoe leather.  We would spend the next 6 hours in a 3 block radius of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland.


I learned some interesting tactics while walking a foot beat.  First, most crooks look up and down the street for a police car, they seldom look on the sidewalk for a foot beat cop.  I often could walk right up behind two guys on the Boulevard and look over their shoulder and see them exchange dope for money.  I also discovered I could walk right by two suspicious characters, turn down the next corner and circle back through the alley and watch them break into someone’s car.


We did some of our best work walking through dark alleys and parking lots behind Hollywood Boulevard.  Another foot beat tactic was dodging vomit, urine and used condoms.  Still want my job?  I often questioned the wisdom of putting carpets in the Watch Commanders Office.  No cop washes the bottom of their shoes before entering the station.


We often saw an empty car alone in a parking lot even when there was lots of free street parking.  Run the license plate for wants and bingo, it was stolen.  Other times we looked at the ignition, punched ignition meant it was stolen and not reported.  Now comes the hard part, you had to keep your eye on the stolen car, go get your own car and then hide it someplace where the suspect won’t see it.


Any cop who spent more than a day in patrol, knows how hard it is to hide a Black & White police car with a light bar.  It’s easier to hide a face pimple on prom night.


One of us would stay in the car, and the other was watching the stolen car, usually hiding behind a trash dumpster, with urine and vomit under your feet.


I won’t tell you about all the arrests we made walking a morning watch foot beat but we often led the watch in arrests.  Of course, we seldom got tied up handling radio calls.

We often free-lanced and responded to crimes where the suspect might still be in the area.  We also didn’t want to piss off the other hard working cops on our watch.


Yesterday’s radio car cop was my partner the next night.  If things got busy we would jump into our police car and handle radio calls.  I remember once the radio operator tried to assign me a radio call high in the Hollywood Hills. I agreed to handle the call but quoted a long delay, because I was on foot a mile and half from my car.


I was fortunate that I was given good partners to work with.  Every once in a while I would get a cop who didn’t want to work or for that matter, walk the foot beat.  One night I was assigned this cop who was known for being lazy.  I noticed that every half block I found myself walking alone.  I would look back and my partner was leaning against a closed business. Once he was sitting on a bus bench next to a homeless person.


His attitude changed when a suspect shot another drug dealer in the face with a shotgun behind the hot dog stand, 30 feet away from where we were standing.  He stayed pretty close for the rest of the night.  Two nights later we arrested the shooting suspect.  I had a snitch who told me which motel he was staying in.


I had a lot of fun walking the Hollywood Boulevard Foot Beat and I got to work with some great partners, J.J., Dan, Stan, Bill, Cliff and a host of other good cops.


Mike Castro walked the Hollywood and Western Foot Beat, (6FB4) with Dave Smith and Ken Hobbs and said it was a great job.  Other officers walked a foot beat in Ramp (Rampart) or Central Divisions and all agreed pounding a beat was a fun and rewarding job.


After 3 1/2 years, I was told that they needed my foot beat spot for a new radio car that would handle all the burglar alarms.  It was called a code 30 car and was staffed with Officers Jack Myers and Ron Venegas.  That’s right, they became the famous Hollywood Burglars.  They were the cops that broke into businesses to steal property–on duty.  I’d hate to be the supervisor that made that decision.  Walking a foot beat was the best of times, that later turned into the worst of times.  That will be another Ramblings story.


Today’s Hollywood Boulevard foot beat cops ride bikes or drive around in their cars.  It’s just a different time.  I was one of the lucky ones who got a little bit of the good ole days.



Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings Reprise: Foot Beat Stories

By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired

We are happy that 35-year veteran Hal Collier is sharing his ‘stories behind the badge’ with us. This was originally posted 7/24/2013. Thought you might enjoy it again.–Thonie

The following stories are true and I’ll use real names as long as it doesn’t get anyone indicted or divorced.  Several posts ago, I talked about how my favorite job on the LAPD was walking a foot beat.  I never worked Vice but I did do a three month undercover tour in an elite West Bureau unit whose chain of command was a sergeant, then the Bureau Deputy Chief.  I still had more fun on the foot beat than any other job.

You ever watch a movie or TV show and the Captain threatens the officer that he will have him pounding a foot beat?  I’d have volunteered in a heartbeat.  I snowed my Lieutenant into letting me walk a Morning Watch foot beat, but first I have to learn how to walk a foot beat.  They assign me to Mid Day Watch with J.J. Brown.  Cool, J.J. is a Hollywood legend on the Boulevard.  He’s been walking for over 28 years, so how hard could this be?

I show up for work like I’m working a radio car, I carry my 40 lb. gear bag with riot helmet, extra ammo, tools, street guide and every report known to the LAPD.

J.J. just laughs at me and says, “We walk little lighter!”  My first lesson, we only need one traffic citation book, one parking ticket book and one handheld radio.  The radio was a Dumont and it only worked on a nice day without any tall buildings between you and the radio tower on Mt. Lee.  Everything you needed, you carried in your pockets or on your belt.  Hats were a must, department policy and you carried a baton which often became your best friend in a fight.

We get out of the car and J.J. asks, “Where’s your flashlight?”  Lesson 2:  You need a flashlight for dark bars and the very dark porno theaters.  Ok, I’ve got my pockets stuffed, I’m ready to start walking.  J.J. said, “Where are you going?”  I’m starting to walk eastbound with traffic.  Lesson 3: Foot beat officers always walk against traffic.  This walking might be harder than I thought.

J.J. and I start walking, facing traffic.  I’m thinking how cool I must look in my fresh uniform and in front of all these business people and tourists.  Three buildings later J.J. grabs me by my Sam Brown Belt and says, “Slow down, we’re going to be walking for the next 6 hours. You’re walking like your late for dinner.”  J.J. tells me, “You walk at a much slower pace and stop every so often.”  OK, I’m wondering if I need to write all this down.  J.J. is very patient with me.  I feel like a rookie.  If I find myself walking too fast I stop and find J.J. 30 feet behind me and laughing.  I’ll learn, maybe.

I soon find that J.J. knows everyone on Hollywood Blvd and everyone knows him.  We stop at various businesses and J.J. introduces me to the owners or managers.  I have worked Hollywood for over seven years and I don’t know any of these people.  We stop at London Britches, a clothing store and J.J. introduces me to the manager.  I don’t remember her name but I’ll never forget that smile. She was gorgeous.

I remember another group of businesses, Artisans’ Patio.  This young sales clerk walks out to talk to J.J.  She is also very pretty, I’m beginning to like this Day Watch foot beat.  J.J. is talking with the young lady and I glance over, she is wearing a white cotton full length dress.  When she stands in the sunlight I can see that she isn’t wearing anything under her dress and I mean nothing.  J.J. asks, “Ready to go?”

I said “Ah, not just yet, I have to, ah, catch my breath.”

J.J. also introduced me to some of the Boulevard people, Bill Conkey & Tillie who were street people.  J.J. and the other foot beat officers took care of them.  Giving them money, buying them clothes and taking them for medical care.  You don’t see that much anymore.  The less friendly street people are advised of the rules of Hollywood Boulevard, known as the “Boulevard Rules.”

Remember the movie, “Pretty Women” where female prostitutes worked Hollywood Boulevard?  Boulevard Rule #1, no whores on Hollywood Boulevard.  They were always politely directed to Sunset.  The tourists were on Hollywood Boulevard.  I soon learned that there were all kinds of rules.  Businesses couldn’t put signs on the sidewalks, no blaring music and most important don’t piss off the foot beat cops.  My second day, we did bar checks and wrote parking tickets.

The Nest Bar was on Hollywood Boulevard and was a known biker hangout.  Not so much on day watch but at night the bikers and the cops were always in conflict.  Parking regulations for motorcycles were simple.  Back tire must touch the curb.  If a foot beat cop can slide a thin piece of paper between the back tire and the curb, the motorcycle got a parking ticket.

I was told that on occasion a passing car would throw something at the foot beat officers.  The foot beat cop would write down his license plate and issue him a parking ticket.  The motorist found out six months later when he tried to renew the registration to his car.  I never did that or saw it done, could be a legend, I just don’t know.

Bar checks—how hard could that be?  Well, you don’t just walk into a dark bar from the sunshine of the Boulevard.  Pause inside the door and let your eyes adjust to the light.  One officer walks to the back and the other stays by the front door.  The foot beat officers didn’t enforce ABC (Alcohol, Beverage & Control) violations, like serving a drunk or bugs in a bottle. We mostly wanted the owners and patrons to know that the cops were around.

My favorite bar was the Tourist Trap.  The Tourist Trap was a dive and certainly not for tourists.  It was a bar frequented by black pimps and drug dealers.  I loved walking to the back where the pool table was.  I would stand next to the pool table, in front of the pocket where the pimp was going to shoot his next shot.  They always missed the shot.

There were other bars on Hollywood Boulevard, like The Powerhouse, The Alley bar, The Frolic Room and a few others I have forgotten.  There were also a couple of porno theaters.  The Cave comes to mind.  It had a live strip show during the day that packed the house.  Porno theaters are not my cup of tea.  They all have the same smell and sticky floors. Use your imagination.

I remember one girl who approached us walking on the Boulevard.  She was sweet and I thought, what a nice girl, I’ll bet her parents are proud.  Later that day I caught her show at the Cave.  Now, I hope her parents don’t know.

I enjoyed working with J.J. a Hollywood Boulevard Foot Beat legend.  J.J. has read this chapter and approved its contents.

Next chapter: The following month I’m assigned to work mid PM’s. A different set of Blvd rules and new partners…

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Losing an Officer

By Hal Collier

Retired LAPD

Did you ever have one of those incidents where one minute you were calm and actually got to finish a cup of coffee while it was still hot and the next minute is the exact opposite?

My night is going smoothly and I’m hoping to coast for a few more hours and then go home and enjoy my next three days off. We’d just put another bad guy in jail and finished our arrest report. The sun will be coming up in a few hours, my favorite time of the day. It’s about 4:00 a.m. as I drive out of the Hollywood Police Station parking lot. I turn north on Wilcox and head toward Hollywood Boulevard. The Boulevard has been deserted for at least an hour. The bars and clubs have closed, the drunks have found their cars and the predators of the weak have given up and gone home.

Or so I thought.


I just crossed Selma Avenue when I notice a strange light lying in the middle of Wilcox. I drive up to the light. It’s a metal flashlight. Just like the kind most cops use! In a millisecond chaos erupts.

A citizen drives up to us and asks me, “Are you looking for that cop who was in a fight?”

“What cop?”  There goes that coasting to EOW (End of Watch)!

I ask the citizen, “Where did he go?”

He replies, “I don’t know, I lost sight of him when I turned around.”

Ok, I’ve got a lost cop who probably needs help. I pick up the police radio to broad cast “Officers needs help!”

Suddenly I hear a shot.  Oh shit, this is turning real bad in a hurry. My heart has jumped into my throat and my mind is racing.

Now in the middle of a big city with lots of buildings, it’s often hard to tell from where a sound is coming. I’m guessing it’s from the street west of me. I speed around to the next street and turn south. I don’t see anything at first. I slow down and hear a voice yell, “Over here!”

There’s a cop sitting on the ground in a parking lot. He’s pointing to another individual lying on the ground in front of the Chesterfield Hotel. That individual has been shot! I get on my radio and soon the entire division has thrown out their coffee and joined us, including the Watch Commander. An ambulance responds and treats the individual for a gunshot wound and my cop for a contusion to his head.

Not only are we not going to coast to EOW but we’re not going to get off on time, and my three days off are going to be cut short by at least a day. It’s overtime but my pillow is going to miss me!

Here’s what happened:  The cop was a Hollywood sergeant just driving down Hollywood Boulevard. He heard what he thought was glass breaking. He pulled to the curb to investigate.

A Drag Queen named, Otha, had just smashed the display window to Playmates, a famous Hollywood Boulevard lingerie shop. I guess he was doing a little early shopping. This was in the 70’s and the only police radio was in the car. If you were out of the car and needed help, you had to run back to the car radio or fight for your life. My sergeant confronted Otha and the fight was on. Otha gained control of the sergeant’s flashlight and hit the sergeant in the head. The sergeant was dazed but not about to give up the fight.



The two combatants ran westbound through the parking lot. Otha climbed over a four-foot chain link fence next to the Chesterfield Hotel. The sergeant was starting to feel the effects of the blow to his head. Fearing he might pass out and lose his weapon to Otha, the sergeant fired one shot. The bullet hit the chain link fence and split into two fragments. Both fragments hit Otha.

The sergeant survived, as well as Otha, except that Otha went to jail after being treated for two wounds from one gunshot. Me, I had trouble sleeping that day. I kept waking up, it sometimes takes a long time for the adrenalin to leave your body and let you coast.


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: Dorothy, the Button Lady, Characters 10

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 real.  The character might still be out there, but I doubt it—Dorothy, the Button Lady

These stories involve naked women. Nothing can get a policemen hurt quicker than a radio call of a naked women. The radio code is “311 woman.” Male officers will race all the way across a division to see a naked women. I’ve handled a lot of naked men calls but none of them bring back any memories. Must be a guy thing. Female officers are smarter.

My thirty-five years’ experience taught me that most “311 women calls” were not worth the effort or risk. After reading two of the three examples of incidents I’m going to describe, you’ll probably agree.

Its early Day Watch and rush hour traffic has the streets of Hollywood clogged. Most of the cars contain business men and women on their way to a low paying, boring desk job. This story is old, before everyone was on their cell phone. The only entertainment was the car radio and what they saw on the way to work.

A call comes out of a 311 woman at Franklin and Beachwood. Let see, I’ve had my coffee, I’ve got nothing else to do, why not go see a naked women? I fight traffic and drive East on Franklin. I see a police car ahead. Traffic westbound is stopped dead. I get out of my car walk up to the other police car. Standing in front of a convalescent home is a 60+ yr.-old naked woman. She’s dancing around and flopping her shriveled up boobs at traffic. I look over my shoulder at the backed up traffic. There’s nothing but smiles or a bewildered look on their faces. In today’s cell phone world it would have been videotaped and on You-Tube before I got my second cup of coffee.

The officer in charge, Wendi Berndt, is ordering the female to turn around and put her hands behind her back. This lady could be from the convalescent home or high on drugs, it’s never easy to tell and both can be dangerous. Wendi again tells the lady to turn around. The naked lady complies, then shocks everyone within eye sight. She bends over and spreads her ample butt cheeks and moons everyone. If I’d had that second cup of coffee, I’d have peed in a clean uniform. Yea, she was from the home and refused to take her medication. I would have loved to hear some of the conversations in the office that morning. “You’ll never guess what I saw on my way to work this morning.”

The second incident also involved rush hour traffic. Radio call, “311 woman at Santa Monica and Highland; school kids in area.”  It’s my call so I respond. Yep, there she is, a 70 year old homeless women standing behind the bus bench. Her pants are around her ankles and she has relieved herself on the sidewalk. The traffic is stopped and everyone is watching us. I tell the lady to pull up her pants. She tells me to do something that is anatomically impossible. I tell her I’ll arrest her and she says, “Go ahead, I’ll crap in your car.”

Just then, I get a brilliant idea—something new to me. I tell her she will go to jail and I’ll throw away everything in her shopping cart. She says, “Officer, don’t do that.” She immediately pulls up her pants. I tell her to walk westbound on Santa Monica Boulevard to West Hollywood. I follow her into the county’s jurisdiction. Let the sheriffs deal with her.

This last one is the exception to the “311 woman” curse. I’m working Morning watch and it’s about 3 A.M. We finish handling a radio call and drive slowly down the street as my partner is writing in his log.

The only car on the street stops us and asks, “Are you looking for the naked lady?”

Huh? “What naked lady?”

The driver says there’s a naked lady running around on the next street.  OK, my interest is piqued and my partner has put down his log. We turn the corner and see something duck down behind a parked car.

I drive up next to the car and get out.  This twenty-something, drop-dead glorious young lady stands up. She’s not even wearing shoes or earrings. I’m a trained observer.

I ask her, “Why are you running around naked in the middle of the night?”

She says her parents don’t want her to sleep in the nude and she wants to feel free. She asks me my opinion as she stands in front of me, unashamed.

I just swallowed my gum.

I beginning to understand this young lady has some mental issues.  We put her in the back seat of our police car and drive around the corner to her house. We wake up mom who brings out a blanket and takes her daughter inside. Those are just a few of the incidents of naked women I’ve run across in Hollywood.

Character:  Dorothy, the Button lady

I became aware of Dorothy in the 80/90’s.  She got her name from the numerous buttons and pins she had on her coat.  I would see Dorothy walking westbound on Hollywood Boulevard early in the morning. She would sit on a bus bench in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater and wait for the first tour bus to arrive. When the tourists saw Dorothy they wanted to take a picture with her. She would oblige for a small donation. Dorothy preceded the costumed super hero’s that now clog Hollywood Boulevard.

For the most part Dorothy was not a problem, but if anyone tried to encroach on Dorothy’s territory, she would call the police. One morning, I’m a Field Sergeant and a radio call is broadcast. “ADW (assault with a deadly weapon) suspect in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Suspect is attempting to hit tourists with a chain.”  I drive up and Dorothy points to a male who is skipping rope. He’s a boxer and is doing the fancy rope skipping.

The tourists are taking his picture and not Dorothy’s. Dorothy wants him to leave. I tell Dorothy that he has every right to be there and I leave. I drive to the station and I’m in the Watch Commanders office when Communications Division calls and says that there’s a lady on the phone who wants to make a complaint. It’s Dorothy and she says that she called the police and the police (meaning me) didn’t do anything. I adjudicated my own complaint in five minutes.

Under Chief Parks it would have been a four week investigation.


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