Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Another Dave Balleweg Story

By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired

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

Another short Balleweg story.  A traffic officer asked for back up in front of the Nest Bar, a known biker bar. We arrived as did many other officers. This drunk biker said he’s not going to jail and he’ll hurt as many cops as he can. 


Six cops surround this wannabe Rambo and the fight is on. The biker is wrestled to the ground and three cops twist his arm behind his back to handcuff him. A familiar snap sound is heard. That’s right, his arm was broken during the handcuffing process.

Ok, whose arrest is this? None of the cops want this arrest—it will take half the night to get his arm set in the ER and then more time booking him at County Jail Medical Ward. Dave suggests that whoever’s handcuffs are on this want to be Rambo, it’s their arrest. All the cops agree. What Joe Bustos didn’t know was that Dave took Joe’s cuffs out during the fight. Joe was not a happy cop. Dave and I went for a cup of coffee—always good after a fight.

Dave and I dealt with a lot of Meth abusers and most new us by name. Hell, they would call the station and tell us who was driving a stolen car and in which motel they were staying. I remember once we arrested Kentucky Bob for driving a stolen car. When we went to court to testify against him, he greeted us like we were brothers. He plead guilty before we had a chance to testify against him. What a pal.


I know other officers have Dave Balleweg stories, some which still can’t be told.  Working with Dave was a rare and rewarding experience, a true Hollywood Character.


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, Hollywood Sign and Georgia Jones

First, my apologies for the tardiness of this post. We’ve been out of town all week and hubby and I both came down with a nasty flu. Being sick in a motel room–no matter how nice–is awful. I’m just now feeling like I could return to the land of the living. So here you are!


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 and the character are icons in Hollywood. The character is very dear to my heart as well as any cop who worked Hollywood in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and into the 21st century.  Character: Georgia Jones


The subject of my story is known to everyone. Cops, non-cops, cops who worked Hollywood, cops who never worked Hollywood, people who never have been in Hollywood. That’s right that famous landmark the “HOLLYWOOD” sign. 


There are two major companies that protect their copyright infringement with a vigor that is unmatched. The first is Disney. They will take you to court in a heartbeat for any infringement of a Disney logo or character. Try buying a non-licensed Mickey Mouse piñata downtown. The other is the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce—try using a reproduction of the Hollywood sign without their expressed written permission.


All police stations have T-shirts, baseball caps and jackets with the division name and a logo. The station would sell them and use the profit for the station fund. Well, Hollywood Division had the Hollywood Sign on Jackets, T-shirts, coffee cups and whatever you can think of to sell. After a short while we were informed by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce that we had infringed on their copyright of the Hollywood Sign. They agreed to let us sell our T-shirts as long as we agreed to respond to their calls for police service. You can’t blackmail the cops.


I don’t know of a cop alive who worked Hollywood that wasn’t asked at least once by a tourist, “How do I get to the Hollywood Sign?” The sign itself is on a very steep hill just below Mt. Lee. It was recently replaced and is all metal. You can still see where graffiti is spray painted on the bottom of the letters which are 45′ tall. The sign is world famous and can be seen for miles away, even in the smog. 


Tourists think they can drive up to the sign and have a picture taken in front of which ever letter suits their whim. Trust me, I’ve been on that hill many times and it’s all you can do to keep from falling downhill a hundred feet. Hollywood officers often get calls that vandals are at the sign. The sign was originally Hollywoodland, a housing development in the 1920’s.


Over the years the sign’s letters have been covered up to reveal different messages, some approved, some just pranks. The following is a list and the meaning.


HOLLYWEED= The California legalize marijuana initiative




FOX= Fox changed to a network 1987




OLLYWOOD= Iran-Contra Hearings


OIL WAR= Gulf War


SAVE THE PEAK= To prevent a housing project from building near the sign—2010  

The sign is now surround by a fence and a motion detector system to prevent vandalism and trespassers. Hopefully, “Occupy LA” won’t take up residence. By the way, the view of Los Angeles from the sign is spectacular. 


Character: Georgia Jones


Georgia Jones was a fixture at Hollywood Station for over three decades.  Georgia was the property officer. All evidence booked by officers had to go through Georgia. To some this might not sound like a big deal, but think about losing a big case because evidence was not properly handled or booked correctly. Georgia knew all the rules and wouldn’t settle for anything less. As a young cop, I’d get a message go see Georgia in Property. I learned that it can’t be good, I must have screwed up. Georgia was pleasant and helpful unless you crossed her.


Georgia came to Hollywood in the early 70’s, when we were in the old station. The Property Room was in the basement next to the men’s locker room. If I remember correctly, the locker room and property room were separated by a make shift wall with chicken wire at the top for ventilation. Thirty years later I’m a grizzled old sergeant and Georgia admits to me that if she stood on her chair she could watch the officers dress!


I once arrested two burglars on Whitley Terrace. In the trunk of their car was a 6 ft. glass table top. I knew it was stolen—come on—no one takes their table top out for a midnight drive. I booked it into property during off hours. Georgia comes in the next day and is looking for me. I’m too big to hide in the report writing room.  She has no room for this damn table and tells me it should have been booked down town. I think Georgia liked me because she said it could stay until they found the owner.


They never found the owner and Georgia worked around that table top for a whole year. I know because I heard about it every few weeks. At the end of the year they clean out the excess property and take it downtown. The glass table top was dropped during loading and shattered. Now I hear about that damn table top every time I see Georgia.


My last few years I worked in the Watch Commanders office and every weekday morning Georgia would come in and collect the property that was booked during the off hours. Georgia would give me a list of the officers that needed to see her. I remember one young officer who disagreed with Georgia about the proper way to book evidence. I sat him down and explained book it Georgia’s way or expect to get everything you book, kicked back for the rest of your career at Hollywood.


As the Watch Commander, most mornings Georgia would bring me a handful of follow up reports where she fixed an error for some officer. Most officers didn’t know that she did took care of them but I knew.


Georgia was loved by everybody and when she retired a few years ago, Hollywood Division lost a legend as well a great friend.  Every time I hear Willie Nelson or Ray Charles sing “Georgia on My Mind,” I think of Georgia Jones, a true Hollywood Character.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Characters, part 6-Robert Pen Dragon Ball

Due to technical issues there are no illustrations with this post. Check back Wednesday for more stories behind the badge.


By Hal Collier
LAPD Retired
We are pleased to feature Hal’s reminiscences.

The following story is true. Some may find this short story a bit morbid, but you have to put yourself in the shoes of a street cop looking for a bad guy, keeping in mind officer safety issues. The character may be only known to a few officers as he flew under the radar. He wasn’t a crook, but a colorful drunk.

Robert Pen Dragon Ball.

First the story.
Officers often get alarms at closed businesses and find burglars have broken into the building. The first step is to request the additional cops to secure the perimeter and then they have to search the interior. Some buildings are multiple stories and some are small in area but have special concerns. This story is about a single story building but with many special concerns.

Guns and a Pencil

It’s the middle of the night and I get a burglary alarm on Santa Monica Boulevard. The business is a mortuary across the street from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. We check the exterior and discover that entry has been made via one of the side doors. I’m not squeamish but I know there are people inside, only most are dead.

My mind is racing. If I was a burglar caught inside a mortuary with cops outside where would I hide? Inside a coffin in the viewing room? In the embalming area with my bare feet sticking out of a sheet and a toe tag attached? Inside a display casket in the sales room?

The first room we search is the embalming room. Oh crap, there’s six pairs of bare feet, all with toe tags. I know what’s under the sheets and I don’t want to look. I take out my #2 pencil and with gun in one hand I begin checking the bottom of their feet. I use the pencil to check for a reaction when I run the pencil across the bottom of every foot. Nothing, thank goodness. We move on to the viewing rooms. The caskets lids are open and a quick look is sufficient. If they look dead and there alive I don’t want to catch them.

The next room is filled with the caskets that are for sale. They are all closed and we’ll have to open each one. I’m beginning to wish I was an electrician like my dad. After fifteen tension-filled minutes we decide that there isn’t anyone inside. I step outside and throw away my pencil. Now do you think cops are paid too much? I’ll never forget guns and a pencil.

Hollywood Character: Robert Pen-Dragon Ball

With a name like that who needs a nick name? Robert lived somewhere north of Hollywood Boulevard. I don’t know if he was on a disability pension or living on a family trust, all I know is that he always had money for beer. Working graveyard, I seldom saw Robert sober. He was just like Otis of Mayberry on the Andy Griffith TV show. He was always friendly and I think he even liked cops.

I was working with Dave. One night, we saw Robert on roller skates, drunk on his ass. He was rolling downhill on Wilcox Avenue. He rolled from one parking meter to the next. It was amusing to watch. Picture a guy letting go of a parking meter, rolling downhill and only stopping when he straddled the next parking meter. Ouch. We stopped Robert two parking meters from Hollywood Boulevard. Dave suggested we take him back up the hill and watch him roll down again.

Another time we saw Robert walking along a side street with a large grocery bag under his arms. it was past midnight and of course, Robert was already drunk. I talked to Robert while Dave looked in the bag. Inside was an unopened six pack of beer. Dave popped open all six beer cans and handed them back to Robert, upside down. Robert staggered away with beer dripping down his pants. We probably saved his life. Last time I saw Robert he was standing outside the 7-11 waiting until 6 AM so he could buy his beer. Robert was just another Hollywood Character who made police work amusing.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Hollywood Characters, part 5, Old Bill

By Hal Collier, LAPD, Retired

Hal is a thirty-five year veteran of LAPD. We are pleased he is sharing his stories with us.

The following story is true, I was there. I’ll follow with a story about another Hollywood Character. I asked around for this character’s name or background. Everyone who worked Hollywood in the 70’s knew him but only two remembered his name and only Dale Hickerson remembered his background.


Ok, first the story. With today’s TV coverage of car pursuits and police tactics, everyone is an expert on how we stop felony suspects. The Helicopter reporters tell the viewers what the police should do next and they criticize the officer if it’s not according to their textbook. One of the problems is that different police departments have different tactics and policies.


Late one night a Hollywood police car spots a stolen car. The senior officer broadcasts that he is following a stolen car and requests a backup and a helicopter. The officer is southbound on Highland passing Sunset. I’m excited because I’m close and fall in behind the lead officer.


car stopIt must have been a slow night because two blocks later most of the cops in Hollywood division are behind us. The helicopter is overhead with its bright light shining down on the stolen vehicle. The lead officer turns on his red lights at Santa Monica and Highland. The suspect’s vehicle stops. I look behind me. We have about six police cars all with their red lights on and the entire street blocked. The helicopter is circling overhead.


The lead officer gets on the PA system in the police car and broadcasts to the suspect’s vehicle,  “This is the Los Angeles Police Department”  I hear a voice from an officer behind me,  “They know who we are.”


Picture this: fourteen officers crouched down behind their car doors, guns drawn, and adrenalin surging through their veins. Suddenly laughter breaks out. The lead officer is not going to let this stop him from conducting a tactically correct felony car stop. He orders the driver to throw the car keys out the driver’s window.

After a brief pause, the driver of the stolen car tosses a screwdriver out the window. More laughter from the officers.

The lead officer did everything by the book, but it was funny as hell.


Hollywood Character:  Baseball Pitcher—Old Bill


During the 70’s, there was a black man who would stand at the southwest corner of Santa Monica and Western. Other guys like me told his name was Bill. Just after first light Old Bill would be out on the corner with a baseball and a glove. I think he was in his 70’s or 80’s. Bill would bend at the waist and look in to get a sign from an imaginary catcher. He would wind up and throw an imaginary pitch. Sometimes he had runners on base and would throw an imaginary ball to first base.  I once looked at his baseball glove. It was similar to my dad’s glove that he used in high school in 1935, I know because I still have it.


Negro LeagueHollywood officers, including myself would stop and ask Old Bill, “What’s the score?” The Dodgers were always winning. The count on the batter varied but I don’t ever recall him giving up a home run. Another officer asked him once if any runner had ever stolen a base on him and Bill replied, “No I have a good catcher.” He was fun to talk to. I wish I had asked him more about his background. Dale Hickerson said he played some pro ball in the Negro leagues.


Last time I saw Old Bill was early one morning. I received a radio call of a man down at Santa Monica and Western. When I arrived, I was told that the man had been transported to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. I arrived at the hospital and Old Bill was lying on a gurney. A nurse was trying to pry Bill’s baseball and glove from his hand. Old Bill had a stroke and I never saw him again.

The Dodgers lost the best pitcher they never had and Hollywood lost a character.


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