Roll Call

Roll Call: Sand Bags

By Mikey, Retired LAPD

1991 Gulf War picSo, there I was a police sergeant at the LAPD Wilshire Division on the roof looking north toward Hollywood and crying my eyes out! I was mad, sad, and upset. The real kicker was that I had absolutely no control of the situation. I was in full uniform, the supervisor of 40 some field officers possessing the powers granted to a sworn sergeant of police of the LAPD and yet there I was on the roof of the station, crying!

It was 1992 and four F-16’s were swooping down over a Gulf I parade which was in progress down Hollywood Boulevard. Oh, and get this, they were allowing Westmoreland and Viet Nam vets to march in the parade, at the rear, but nonetheless in their parade.

God, I was beside myself. Do I have to explain to you that feeling? The feeling started when the Flying Tiger 707 bringing me back to the world had to make an emergency landing at Seattle-Tacoma Airport because of a blown main gear tire whose pieces were picked up on the runway back at Yakota AFB, Japan. Well, we landed, and no one got killed so off we went to a “no steak” dinner (supposedly you got a steak dinner at Mc Cord AFB or Fort Lewis, I can’t remember who told us that one) homecoming.

Sand bagsBecause of the diversion to Seattle-Tacoma we would be starting our 30-day leave 2 hours earlier. Before we could initiate the task of getting a military stand-by flight home, we found ourselves in a “debriefing” room with an Army guy telling us to keep a “low profile.” Well I understood that! Getting shot at a few times at the beach gate on Phan Rang’s north east perimeter made a believer of filling those sand bags to the max and then “low profiling” behind the bulging blessed things!

But I digress here. He went on to tell us how unpopular we were in this part of the world (home?) and how we should not display any ribbons or acknowledge the fact that we had been in the NAM. That was my welcome home from war, hooray for our side!

I got a ride on a United 727 to Los Angeles and found myself at a window seat separated from a middle-aged female passenger by the empty middle seat. After about 20 minutes in the air, I ordered a scotch and soda. I turned 21 in the NAM but got asked for ID anyway. Not having eaten for a while the go juice hit me like it was meant to. The lady was talking to the stewardess, but my mind was on seeing my family at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), so I paid no attention. The stewardess got my attention when she plunked another plastic cup of go juice on my tray. Before I could say anything, she nodded toward my air companion and left. The woman asked if I was coming back from the war but before I could answer her, I saw the sand bags going up in the middle seat. Heck, she looked innocent enough and there was something in her eyes that said, “Please answer the question,” so I told her, “Yes.” She lifted her glass of red something and asked that I join her in toasting those who were not coming back.

My mind raced back to the night at LAX when I left for the NAM. An Army guy walked off the plane as we were boarding the TWA fight to Seattle and told an older man and a teenage girl, “I’m not going.” I still don’t know why, but the image played in my head for a couple of seconds.

I did not know what to say to my flight companion, so I just took a long drink from the cup. She said, “thank you” and until we said, “good bye” at LAX, we did not speak again.

welcome home dadA substantial number of my family met me as I walked off the plane and they had a big sign that read, “WELCOME HOME SERGEANT DIAZ.” Holy smokes, didn’t they know that we were deep in Indian country and they were blowing my cover?  Throw them some sand bags!

Little did they know that 22 years later THAT sign, my family, the Air Force, the Marine Corps Reserve and two police departments would positively acknowledge my service in the NAM. But for now, I was being assigned to the 63rd Military Airlift Wing, SPS, at Norton AFB, in San Bernardino, California. I was home, but not the same home I had left. The feeling started to run deep the more I ventured around in “the world.”

I went to an apartment complex in the city of Upland, about 22 miles west of Norton, to apply for an apartment. I found myself sitting next to a guy with short hair too. He looked military, so I figured I was going to have competition for the one available apartment. He asked if I was military and I said, “Air Force.” He asked if I had returned from the war and not seeing any sand bags, I told him that I had.

I asked him, and he said, “Navy, back from North Korea.” I was talking to a U.S.S. Pueblo guy, didn’t know which one and didn’t know if he was telling me the truth.  I never found out, but I just put the application back on the manager’s desk and humbly left.

The next apartment manager was not a nice person. He didn’t like the military in any form and said so. Vietnam veterans were out of control, drug-addicted, spring loaded and on short fuses. He said other things, but this is what I related to my father, a WW II veteran who served in the Pacific.

The, “WELCOME HOME FROM THE GREATEST WAR” veteran who was proud to have served, and still removed the manufacture tags from anything “made in Japan.” He said what I began to truly believe: “Just because you served in Viet Nam doesn’t mean life or anyone owes you a living.”

I can talk about his parenting ways, but I am after all, preaching to the choir, the children of depression era kids, you know. So, I shut up like all the other guys at Norton and did not talk about the NAM to anyone but them. In November 1971, three months after my discharge, I joined the Ontario Police Department. I got “extra points” for being a veteran and Hispanic and got hired with six other guys, beating out 350+ applicants. Ain’t bragging, it’s just part of my story.

In 1973, I was eyeballing the LAPD. I took the tests, got the same “extra points” and joined the “Marine Corps” of Law Enforcement. About 90% of my class were NAM vets and we quietly talked about the war. No one cried telling stories of the bad stuff, we were young. The same stories today are probably slightly distorted because of the distance from the events and we do cry, just take a look at Randy Cunningham, the first Navy Ace of the war. When he was young and telling his stories, he used his hands like aviators do and he displayed a lot of the John Wayne “do or die” syndrome. Today, the same stories bring tears to the man’s eyes.

In 1975, I was assigned to Central Division (downtown) and was walking a foot beat with a classmate of mine. Steve was an ex-Army LRRP (Long Range Recon Patrol) and was as tough as they come. We got to interact with the first Vietnamese refugees who had been displaced from the south and sent here. It was very interesting.

One incident that stands out in my mind was a Vietnamese gentleman who approached us and said that he had been duped by a store advertising an item, but had been given another item of lesser value, boxed in the container that showed the advertised item. All was going well until the “victim” told us that he was not to be treated this way because he was a “high classed” Vietnamese. Steve picked the guy up by his shirt and the guy grabbed Steve’s wrist to hang on for the ride up to eye level. I won’t repeat what Steve told him, but what would you have said? Did I mention that Steve was tough? That was the last time that I can remember the NAM being “up front” in my mind. Like most of us NAM vets, I put it in a closet somewhere; remember what my dad had said?

1991 Gulf War picFast forward to1991. So, now Gulf I commanders are talking, “no Vietnam this” and “no Vietnam that,” remember? They actually wanted to win this one.  Well, they did. They were allowed to and there was no Johnson or McNamara to hand them a bite of the shit sandwich. Then they came home (welcomed) in uniform, with ribbons, folks waving at them (with all their fingers), no sand bags and now they get a parade—with “us” allowed to march in the back. Remember the start of my story?

Heck if I was going to march behind as an “after thought.” If we, Nam vets, have a legacy, we showed them how NOT to fight a war and how NOT to treat returning service veterans. The antiwar protestors learned something too.  Forward to the Gulf II, 2002. I am now assigned to Hollywood Division where we get our share of protests, marches and the like. So, I am working a major protest as the Adjutant to the Divisional Commanding Officer and we can pretty much go where we want.  We were at the corner of Hollywood and Highland where I see a female with gray hair, maybe my age holding up a protest sign and taking pictures. She was dressed, almost like she must have looked in the sixties as a protester. Now, I am a 55-year-old “Sergeant Pig.” She doesn’t say that, she “looks that.” I figure what the heck and say the following, “You know, this is quite unique to me.”

She asked, “What is?”

So, I told her where I was when this sort of thing was going on in the sixties. (By the way, I missed the sixties, graduated high school in 1966 and joined the USAF in 1967, do the math.) She said, and I quote her because the words went right through me, vest and all, “We did that wrong back then. We attacked you guys, not the war like we should have.”

Now, let me get this straight—a generation of military men and women were sacrificed by the government and the folks back home took it out on them. Remember people yelling, “baby killers,” and the jerk apartment manager?

But today, they are attacking the war/government and leaving the troops alone. I told you about our legacy and the protestors learning something. But who paid the price? Army nurses in VietNam 1968 Lt Sharon Rex in middleNeed I say? We are an exclusive club of brothers and sisters in arms. Let’s not forget those beautiful selfless nurses. I recently heard on a talk show where serving in the military was the subject. Some guy called in and started lamenting the fact that going to Canada got him out of the military but “someone had to take my place,” during the NAM war and that someone might have gotten killed.  WELL HELLO!!

I’ll finish with this; I have been in uniform since I was 19. I have carried a weapon every day of my adult working life—I will be 57 this year. I am in the twilight of my Law Enforcement career with retirement just three years away. When several incidents on the LAPD caused us to go through periods of really bad press, guys would ask me, “You don’t have to be here. Are you going to retire?”

My response was, “When I left Viet Nam, we were winning, and we lost that one. I ain’t leaving here until we are winning again.” My late aunt, God rest her soul, once asked me, “You are always looking for trouble or something wrong, that is your job, but what will you do when it is over, if you survive?”  I/we are survivors. We are brothers, sons, fathers and in my opinion, are the second greatest generation who took up arms, WWII veterans being the greatest.

We will never have full closure; we will never get our homecoming parade and not everyone will agree why we went there in the first place. We meet on the street and nodded, “welcome home” to each other. We see a NAM decal on the back of a guy’s car and if he looks old enough, we give each other the thumbs up.

Some of us have gone back to the NAM for various reasons. Over 58,000 never made it home physically, some of us never made it home mentally. How will our NAM experiences come back to us in our minds and hearts now that we about to retire and will have the time to really think this through? When I hear a NAM veteran say he’s been back 30-something years, what is he really saying? What did he leave there? What is missing? Most veterans of other wars don’t make statements like that, why?

Phan Rang Air Base, Viet Nam-unknown year

I can still smell the country, the war. I can dream it in color and “don’t tell me no.”

When “Big red” (the sun) hits me just right, I am at the beach gate or main gate with the Korean MPs. I can go back there anytime I want to. I can’t remember where the car keys are or why I left the Watch Commander’s office and went to the front desk, but I remember the NAM and the 20-year-old kid who went there. Do I feel sorry for him, admire him, mourn him or try and comfort him? I’ll know soon enough because that Army briefer and his words, “DON’T MEAN A THING” now. And I don’t give a damn about those SAND BAGS.

When we who served in the NAM are gone, what will generations of military and civilians say about us?wounded soldier




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: Citizens Arrest

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Citizen Arrest is a law enforcement term used when a citizen arrests an
individual for a misdemeanor crime not committed in an officer’s presence.
Most cops hate citizen arrests. We like to make our own arrests. We prefer
to hunt elephants commonly known as serious offenders, like murder, robbery and rape.

During the hours that I worked (midnight to 8 AM), where I spent most of my career, we seldom had to deal with citizen arrests. We were free to track down a pachyderm.

Sears_building_Los_AngelesNow, Hollywood had more than their share of businesses that had shoplift
details. Sears, Zody’s (Remember Zody’s?), Save-on. Most of these had
competent theft detection employees. They didn’t call us until they had arrested the suspect and completed the arrest report. We also had an agreement that they wouldn’t call us unless the shoplifted dollar amount was over $35. Didn’t want to tie up two cops for hours on a $2.00 crime.

Every once in a while, a private security guard would make an arrest and call
us to take his arrest. That meant no arrest report and usually a minor
offense. There was a Hispanic bar on La Brea that hired a new security
guard. He arrested a patron for a minor battery and called us. He hadn’t written a report, and his arrestee need medical attention. We spent the next four hours cleaning up his arrest. No elephants that night.

Police-Report-Stolen-LaptopAfter a few more arrests by the same security guard, we decided to move him up to the Zody’s class. One night, we arrived at the bar on another citizen arrest. We told the security guard to get his car keys. When he inquired, “¿Por que?” (Spanish for “Why?”) I answered, “Because you’re going to write the arrest report.”

Now, English was a second language to this poor guy. After two attempts at writing a report, it was evident that writing English was also new to him.

I felt like an English teacher but after a few hours he completed the arrest report. Funny, the bar closed an hour before he finished.

Another strange thing: we never had another citizen arrest call to that bar.


Writer's Notes

The Call Box: Code 7’s Aren’t Sacred

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

Ask any patrol officer what his/her favorite radio transmission is and I’m sure most will say … “Code 7 granted.” 

Somewhere there is a rule/regulation/order whatever that states, very sensibly only a certain number of cars can be off the air to eat at any one time. When your request has been denied several times, you try to be first in line when another unit clears from 7. 

Eating spots…there are spots and there are spots. Well, just let me say that Hal, working Hollywood, probably had no shortage of fine eateries to choose from while I, working a poor, crime-ridden area did not have that luxury. The powers that be stated we could not eat outside our area and we had one restaurant which would have had to improve greatly just to be average. 

The food however was free, and we ate what they put in front of us and we left a 25-cent tip (this is a long, long time ago, boys and girls). Being “off the air” however, did not necessarily mean you would enjoy your meal in peace.

 A few examples:

We hadn’t been seated five minutes when we hear shouting from the parking lot. Then two rapid fired rounds followed by the racing engine of a departing vehicle and then a third and fourth shot. 

As we were seated in the rear by the door we were up and out quickly but cautiously fully expecting to find a body in the lot…not this time.

Standing not ten feet from our black and white was a woman holding a handgun which she quickly dropped when ordered.

She admitted shooting at her husband and then his car as he left. We found no blood and discovered where one round had hit a car parked next to ours.

We got a pinch but missed dinner.

Saving what I consider a “classic” until last: this was related to me by Dwight “Skip” Gillett, LAPD retired and a colleague from the “Old Centurions.”

In Skip’s own words, edited for length:

I was working AID, Accident Investigation Division, on the PM watch in 77th Division with my partner Chuck Morrow. Inasmuch as it is a poor, crime-ridden area there are not many (actually none) decent restaurants where we can eat.

So, we are having a burger at an outdoor greasy spoon when we hear shouting.

There right in front of us is a northbound vehicle, hood open with a passenger seated on the front fender shouting instructions to the driver who, of course can’t see because of the hood.

“Slow down a bit,” “Little to your left,” and “Stoplight coming up.”

Now any cop will tell you that sooner or later you witness all sorts of weird behavior, and nothing you see should surprise you until something crazier comes along. But this one ranks right up there.

Decisions., decisions.

engine-bayFinish the burgers or do the right thing? Dedication overcame hunger and we made the stop. It seems the fuel pump was non-operational, so the fender rider was pouring gasoline directly into the carburetor and since the driver could not see, he was calling out directions. 

Logical, right? As clever as this might seem you may have guessed by now alcohol was involved.

End result: lost the burger, got one deuce.


[Me again] I have said it before. Where else could you find a job where you could do some good, meet the quality of  people we do, have a lot of fun and still get paid?

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: An Overwhelming Traffic Collision

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Barham off r universal-city-ramp-002-jpg-20150104Did you ever have a traffic accident that was just overwhelming? This occurred in the mid 70’s and as usual I’m working graveyard shift. I’ll describe the scene for you. The Hollywood Freeway (aka 101 Freeway) winds through the Cahuenga Pass.  Cal Trans has closed the entire southbound lanes for pavement repair. Everyone has to exit the Cahuenga Boulevard exit which has a stop sign at the bottom of the ramp. Cal Trans has started closing down lanes at Barham and funneling everyone down to one lane by Cahuenga.

 About 2:30 AM, a semi-truck loaded with strawberries from the Central California barrels down the Cahuenga off ramp. About half way down, the driver realizes there’s a stop sign at the bottom of the ramp. Now, this truck is still at freeway speeds when he attempts to make a hard right turn. Well, you guessed it—the trailer flipped over on its side. The driver was ok but the load inside the trailer began to smoke. Of course, the fire department came out and sprayed that foam that they carry in the fire truck.

Isuzu_truck_overturnedNow the trailer is open, and the concerned citizens didn’t want to see the free strawberries go to waste. The fire captain advised me that the foam they have sprayed will give anyone who eats the strawberries a bad case of diarrhea.

My partner and I chase off the strawberry lovers, but we now have a new problem. The entire Hollywood freeway is still coming down the off ramp. Now, they can’t turn right on Cahuenga. We start directing them northbound. That seemed to work for cars and small trucks. Semi-trucks couldn’t make the turn, so we had to have them back up Cahuenga. This turned into a traffic nightmare.

To complicate matters some of the fine Hollywood citizens were stealing the strawberry flats. Hope they have more than one bathroom and lots of toilet paper. 

We decide to have Cal Trans open the freeway. The foreman tells us he can’t open the freeway until 5:00 AM. That’s 2 1/2 hours away. We need another plan. Hey, lets close the freeway off ramp at Highland Avenue.September_26,_2007_accident,_highway_9,_CT,_flipped_truck

Bill Barren, my partner in hell that night, and I jumped into our lowest-bid city police car. We drove north on Cahuenga to head off the morning rush hour traffic jam. Now, Bill and I have never attended the Cal-Trans lane reduction class. And we have only two boxes of flares. We throw out a bunch of flares and traffic begins to brake sharply and swerve to avoid a bigger traffic collision.

We suddenly feared for our lives. After a few near misses, we abandon our plan and exit the freeway. We get back to the overturned semi and just when we think things can’t get worse we notice that the truck load is again starting to smoke.

Of course, the fire department again responds and now Cahuenga Boulevard is completely blocked. The good citizens of Hollywood have abandoned the strawberry picking season. I heard the freeway was backed up to the Canadian border.

CHP patrol carOk, maybe that was an exaggeration, but it was a mess. We figured that was the problem of the California Highway Patrol. Bill and I disappeared and made a bee line to Winchell’s.


Roll Call

Roll Call: Northeast Vice, the Queen and the Motor Cop

By Mikey, Retired LAPD


Hollywood and Western–looks different in the daytime


During my vice tour at Northeast, from late 1978 to 1980, I had some very fun times, dangerous times and stake-out boring times. But not everyone saw my job as fun or even tolerable. Because Hollywood Vice was the premier divisional vice unit, vice units’ city-wide were required to send several of their vice coppers to Hollywood for a two-week loan—fresh faces. My partner Sam and I were working the corner of Sunset and Western where the drag-queen community owned the vice business there.  At about 7pm (summertime, still light), Sam dropped me off on Western near the 101 Hollywood freeway and he drove the target area.


Five minutes later, he picked me up, saying he’d gotten a lewd conduct violation. We drove back to make the arrest. Instead of slowly driving up to the location and pointing out the violator, Sam went in like the cops, fast and furious, right up to a group where the violator was.

Sam yelled, “That’s him,” pointing at a 5’2” blond who bolted. Now, at the time I was heavy duty weight lifting, NOT running. This is gonna hurt.

The queen is running northeast across Western toward Sunset. No way am I going to catch him so, I yell, “LAPD, stop!”

He stopped, yup—all 5’2” right there, right in front of me and no way was this vice cop gonna come to a stop. I hit him and we both ended up on the street on our butts face to face.

He says, (I heard it ‘cause I was there,) “Why did you hit the queen?”we-talked-to-the-worlds-oldest-performing-drag-queen-on-tour-1970s-1463240357-size_1000

I answered, “You stopped!”

He says, “You told me to stop!”


Well, he is bleeding from his forehead so it’s off to get him MT’d (medically treated and cleared) then to misdemeanor booking. The booking line was a bit long so I started on my paper work. My arrestee was standing to my left and there was a motor cop with his arrestee standing to my right and I can see he was not casting a favorable eye on my arrestee. The four of us are there for about 10 minutes, when the queen asked if he can go pee.

“Ok, over there,” and I point at the rest room just adjacent to the booking counters. This is jail after all and there are bars only, no wall, no privacy.

I watched as he sits down to pee when I heard two hands smack together.

The motor cop flashed past me saying, “That’s it!”

Crap, he was headed for the queen so I start after him not knowing what is going to happen.

Now towering over my arrestee, the queen looked up at him in horror as the copper reached down lifting the still urinating man up over his head and yelled, “You are a man, stand up and piss like one!”

The queen was screaming, the copper was cursing and talking in tongues. I was very focused on my arrestee and the fact that I don’t want to spend the night in a hospital with him in the event he is seriously injured. I grabbed the motor officer by his Sam Browne and yelled at him to let the guy go. But noooooo, he keeps screaming and shaking the queen and the queen keeps screaming and peeing!

Booking roomA jail division sergeant grabbed the motor officer’s right arm which brings the copper out of his trance. He slowly lowers the now very hysterical queen down who fainted as he fell back onto the toilet in the sitting position exactly where he started.

The motor cop is escorted out of the rest room and I shook the queen. He came to with a start and screamed! I reassure him that he is OK now and I will not leave his side. We got to the front of the booking line and finished without further incident.

All of this for a misdemeanor!???

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: Cop Dreams

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

sweet dreamsThink back to the days when you were very young.  Your mom or dad would put you in bed and maybe kiss you on the forehead and say, “have sweet dreams.” Why did they have to say dreams? You were afraid to go to sleep in your bed.  Some nights there were monsters under the bed or the monsters were in the closet. Didn’t matter—they were someplace in the room. You’d wake up screaming for your mom! If you had parents who never read Dr. Spock they might let you sleep in their bed for the night.

Flash forward a few years, now you’re in school and the monsters are gone but so are your pajamas, that’s right you’re naked in class. Who hasn’t had that dream?

You somehow reach adulthood and if you’re lucky you’re no longer naked in public. Now you’ve moved on to adult night mares. You wake up in the middle of the night asking yourself, did I pay the electric bill or what will they ask me at the IRS audit next week?  My point is that you will always have bad dreams!

cant sleepI’m about to describe some other bad dreams that sneak into what was supposed to be a restful night. That’s right cop dreams. Now, I don’t want some $300 dollar an hour doctor to analyze my dreams. I have enough things to think about when I lay my head on the pillow.

Early in my cop career, I had visions of bad guys trying to do me harm but one dream really stands out. I was in Hollywood just south of Hollywood Boulevard in a parking lot. I was chasing this dirt bag in a trench coat. I got within 50 feet of him when he suddenly turns and is now holding a machine gun. Oh, crap. I dive behind a parked car and make myself as small as I can behind the front wheel. Bullets are hitting the ground all around me. I suddenly have a shotgun. Don’t ask me to explain where it came from. I pump a shell into the chamber and without looking I reach around the front tire and fire off all five rounds at where I think the dirt bag is standing.



I’d love to tell you I filled the asshole with double OO buck from the shotgun but, no. I suddenly sat upright in my bed. My heart raced and I was sweating. I tried to reason—it’s  only a dream, but I really would rather have been naked at my high school prom! Guess how much sleep I got that night.

I had many cop dreams during my 35-year career. They usually involved not being able to run from danger and the worst were that my gun wouldn’t fire. It jammed or I couldn’t pull the trigger. Now, I didn’t have these every night or in my case sleeping during the day, but I still had them every so often.  I sometimes punctuated my dreams verbally. That’s right, I talked in my sleep or better said, I yelled. That usually woke up my wife and the dog, and it explained why the cat slept in the other room.

 man and wife sleepingAfter thirty-five years of sometimes violent encounters, I retired. I assumed that after a while the dreams would be replaced by dreams of retired old folks. Wrong! I’ve been retired for over 12 years and I still wake up punching my pillow or yelling out to halt! In these dreams, I sometimes have partners that I haven’t seen or talked to in decades.

 This upsets my wife and dog very much. I can now go back to sleep rather quickly but my wife tells me in rather stern terms that I need to sleep in another room. Sometimes she suggests I sleep in another county.

I asked around and found that most cops, retired or not, have these dreams.  You can take off your badge, and throw away those uniforms, you might even lose contact with old partners but the dreams will always come back. They’re deep inside of a cop’s head for life. You just never know when they’ll resurface!  


P.S. Do you still have cop dreams?

Roll Call

Roll Call: LAPD’s First PIT Maneuver

By Mikey, Retired LAPD

During 2005, the department was training its officers on the Pursuit Intervention Technique or PIT maneuver. [The link here is for a recent PIT incident in LA. Looks to me ike the agency is primarily CHP with other agencies backing up. This is a 12+ minute video. The most illustrative moments are in the first 2 minutes. The rest of the video is interesting because it shows perfect police procedure for removing suspects from a vehicle.–Thonie]


The PIT was to be performed at speeds below 35 MPH and other rules and procedures were in cooperated in the pursuit training/policy. So, by May 21, 2005 there were a number of field supervisors and officers PIT qualified. Saturday, May 21, 2005 at 0100 Air 11, our Central Bureau air support reported the CHP in a low speed pursuit of a stolen vehicle leaving the freeway and entering Hollywood Area. I was the Assistant Watch Commander to my partner Don who was the Watch Commander. The CHP was asking the LAPD to take over the pursuit and as they were in Hollywood. That meant us.


The suspects attempted to run over a CHP officer and ram a CHP cruiser so these guys were crazy but not playing around. To really push the pursuing officers into the pissed-off spring-loaded position, the suspects would stop, then take off, stop get out of their vehicle and do vulgar things with their fingers and back side. You figure it out. As Hollywood units began to follow the stolen vehicle, the suspects pulled the same nonsense. One of the pursuing units asked permission to utilize the PIT maneuver. Reported speeds were never more than 25 MPH so the suspects met the first PIT criteria.

Now, I had just attended PIT and were told that to perform a PIT, the primary, secondary and third had to be driven by PIT qualified drivers. Then, and field supervisor also had to be PIT qualified. So, Don, not having gone through the school, handed the reins over to me.

One of the pursuing units broadcasted that there were two air units above the pursuit and stated he thought it was a news helicopter in addition to Air 11. I was the guy who was going to give permission for the PIT to occur so the with the aid of the air unit, I jockeyed the pursuit package into position. After what seemed an exhaustive period, we got all the players in their places and I gave the supervisor on scene permission to coordinate the PIT with the pursuing units. I told Don the pursuit was heading our way and we jumped into the Watch Commander’s vehicle and proceeded to intercept the package near the station. Everyone was doing their jobs. The air unit was coaching the officers on the ground to keep their units tight (all three) as the primary unit executed the PIT, he would pass the spun-around suspect vehicle and cars 2 and 3 would box in the bad guys. The primary would make a U-turn and complete the box.

The PIT went according to plan and high fives were being passed all around when I heard from the mystery helicopter, incidentally, one of ours. I heard Staff—-, a high-ranking department brass someone say, “Keep all of your assets there, I will be responding to your location in twenty minutes.” 

So now we are scratching our heads wonder who is responding and why? We were standing in the intersection of Argyle Street and Selma Avenue. I was surrounded by “my assets” when we observe a staff car pull up and the driver exit and begin walking toward our group. I then recognize Deputy Chief H and realize that I am standing by-my-self as my “assets” have withdrawn from my part of the street. 

“Hi Mike,” he says.

I respond, “SIR.” 

“Who authorized this PIT?” 

I replied, “I did, sir.” 

“I don’t recall it being OK’d to begin its deployment.” 

So, I told him how at PIT school it was “when you do this, you gotta do that, when you do that, this will happen and when that happens, all will be good and when all is good you will be impressed, have fun.” Nothing was said to the effect of a starting date, time, month, year, NADA! 

“So, sir, I took the initiative when I saw and heard that we were in policy. If anyone needed a PIT, it was these guys.”

His response; “I’m a Deputy Chief, I like what I see, good job.”

Then my “assets” quickly rejoined the Chief and me on my part of the street. That is when I realized Hollywood had performed the first LAPD PIT. We were so consumed with getting these guys and doing it right. As is always the case, we went for the fastest remedy and the PIT was that remedy. 

Two weeks later, I received a call from a watch commander friend of mine working the Valley. His division had just performed a PIT and he wanted to take claim as being the first LAPD patrol division to have employed the maneuver—until he found out about Hollywood Patrol.

Second ain’t bad; ask Buzz Aldrin.


The Call Box

The Call Box: Marilyn Monroe’s Funeral

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

polic-call-box-pedestal-lapd-gamewell-DCAL2786_dt1How I came to star opposite Marilyn Monroe in her last film. Well, sort of.

Marilyn died August 5, 1962 and was interred August 8 at Westwood Memorial Park. It’s a very, very high-priced piece of real estate, eternal home to some formerly powerful people. I, along with five or six other policemen, was assigned crowd control. No one knew how many people were expected but we assumed a quiet, respectful group.


My post was on a lawn approximately 75-80 yards from the crypt. My share of the crowd was separated from me by a low wall. They were mostly tourists and watched very intently but, as expected, respectfully.


A middle-aged woman identified herself as part of a group from Des Moines and asked me if I could point out anyone important for her to film with her home movie camera. A large sun shade had been set up at the crypt due to the August heat and the area was in shade. Joe DiMaggio was easy, as was his son in military uniform, but as to the balance of the mourners, I had not a clue. (I found out later services were by invite only and restricted to 25-30 people.)

At this point, Ms. Des Moines asked me a question I could not pass up.

She: I understand Marilyn’s first husband was a Los Angeles police officer. Do you know if he is here?”

Now, the devil took hold of my being and I had no control over what happened next.

I put on the saddest face I could muster, bit my lip, dabbed at my eyes and with a big sigh turned away from her. I heard a murmur from the crowd and looked back to see several of them filming me.

Now I never, ever, said who I was but just let her think whatever she wanted to. And run with it.

I can only imagine I am the star of someone’s home movie in Iowa. And with apologies to Bogart and Casablanca: “We will always have Des Moines.”


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