Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings,Two More Dave Balleweg 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 story involves an arrest that Dave and I made. I’m going to condense the arrest part, I covered it in an earlier Ramblings. We arrest this guy for stealing a car in the valley (San Fernando Valley). We get a subpoena for Valley Court. During the trial, the defendant doesn’t want to sit in front of the jury wearing the same t-shirt he was arrested in. The t-shirt was described in our well-written arrest report. 

The defendant’s lawyer wants a continuation. Dave jumps up and offers to buy the defendant a new shirt. The Judge agrees and hands Dave a $20.00 bill. Dave and I hustle to the Army Surplus store a block away and buy the dirt bag a new t-shirt.

I wonder if Dave gave the Judge his change. If not, I should get half.

The jury is back in the court room and Dave is called to the witness stand. The judge advises that they can’t swear Dave in until the clerk returns. 

Only Dave would raise his right hand and announce to the judge and jury.  “I can do this. I do solemnly swear in the case pending before this court to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” 

The judge asked the attorneys if they had any objections.


I have never heard of another officer who swore himself in during a trial.


Dave and I responded to a radio call at Lucy’s El Adobe restaurant on Melrose.  Lucy’s was a favorite hangout for then Governor Jerry Brown. 

One night, this lady demanded to speak with the Governor. She refused to leave until she could tell the Governor how to run California. I now regret that we didn’t let her—it might have helped. Anyway we tell her she can’t talk to the Governor. 

She says, “If I can’t talk to Jerry, I’ll walk out into traffic and get hit by a car.” One of us, I’m not sure who says, “Go ahead.” 

This nut spins around and steps out into Melrose and is almost hit by a passing car. 

A motor cop who was looking for a drunk driver sees her step into the street and figures he’ll write her a ticket.


Dave and I wonder if we should let this nut become the motor officer’s problem. Our conscience gets the better of us.

We take the lady to the Mental Evaluation Unit for a 72 hour hold.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Stupid Criminals, part 1

By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired

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

Just about everybody is aware that criminals are not the smartest individuals on the planet. If you doubt me just check out the web sites and TV shows that show crooks at their worst. If you spent any time around the criminal element you’re not amazed, but you’re shocked when a jury returns a verdict of not-guilty. The jury’s reasoning is nobody’s that stupid?


Well, let me tell you that after 35 years of working the streets, mostly in Hollywood, yea, they are that dumb and they are reproducing at an alarming rate. I’m going to describe some of the stupid criminal offenses I investigated.


I responded to a radio call of a taxi cab robbery on the eastside of Hollywood. It was after midnight. I drive up and the cab driver is standing outside his cab. He tells us that he picked up a fare in front of a bar on Hollywood Boulevard. The fare directed the cab driver to this residence and upon arrival, the fare/suspect told the cabbie, “I have a gun give me your wallet and any cash you have.”


The cab driver gave the suspect his wallet and money then watched as the suspect ran between the houses. My partner began taking the report and I surveyed the crime scene. I found a wallet in the back seat and proudly told the cabbie that at least he left your wallet. The cabbie looked at the wallet and declared, “That’s not mine!” 


 I looked inside the wallet and found a CDC card with a picture. CDC stands for California Department of Corrections. That’s right, it was the suspect’s prison ID card—and his picture was identified by the cabbie as the guy who robbed him. The suspect ran east between the houses. Now I’m not the smartest cop on the planet, but I did know that a halfway house was one block east of us. A halfway house is a home for paroles released from prison.


We drove to the next block and the director told us our parolee had just come home. He’s now looking at an additional five years of state aid by the state of California. Duh, if you rob someone don’t leave your ID at the crime scene.

 It was late into my shift and I needed to write a ticket. It was the end of the month and my sergeant was on my case because I had written only one ticket all month. I’ll admit that I hated writing tickets and only wrote enough to keep my sergeant from following me around all night. I see this car commit a traffic violation and I figure that’s an easy ticket. I won’t even have to go to traffic court on my day off. We stop the violator and he gets out of his car. The usual conversation occurs. He admitted the violation and produces his driver’s license. Above the violators right ear is a hand rolled marijuana cigarette. At the time this, was a felony and the violator was arrested. During the booking process, I asked him why he smoked marijuana and he replied, “It makes me more alert.”  Except when stopped by the cops.

Crooks who drive are also just as dumb.  On more than one occasion a suspect would commit a robbery and as the officers were taking the report the suspect would drive by. It went something like this:

Officer, “What kind of car was the suspect driving?” 

The victim would look around and say, “It was just like that car. Wait, that’s the car and the guy that just robbed me.”

Most non-police people think cops eat a lot of donuts. If a cop does eat a donut you can bet it won’t be a white powered donut. Blue wool uniforms and white power don’t mix. The public bases their conclusion on the fact that they see two or three cop cars parked at a Winchell’s, or Coopers Donuts. I just aged myself.


Today’s cops hang out at Starbucks or Goldstein’s Bagel shop. Most cops don’t eat donuts, but almost all drink coffee. Be honest—just about everyone gets a coffee break. I won’t even get into some of today’s cops ordering a cup of coffee with the word latte in it, or with a squirt of this or a 1/2 and 1/2 of that. Ordering a cup of coffee shouldn’t take 12 words and what’s with that little sleeve to keep you from burning your fingers.

Today’s cops are a whole new breed.

 Ok, back to my Ramblings. I’m working A.M. Watch, you know that 11 P.M. to 7 A.M. nightmare. We’re going to need some caffeine to get through the night. After Roll Call, we drive to the Yum-Yum donut shop at Melrose and Highland. We drive into the parking lot and are greeted by the baker. He’s yelling something in Spanish. My knowledge of the Spanish language is to tell a suspect to put his hands up and that his mother is a member of the world’s oldest profession. All I understand him saying is black guy and robbed. He’s pointing toward the alley. I guess our coffee break is going to have to wait.


We drive into the alley and see two black guys pushing a car. They finally get it jump started and jump in. We stop them. Yep, they had just robbed the donut store. Ok, not everybody I arrested was a Rhodes Scholar, but come on—don’t rob a place and then find out your car won’t start. Double dumb, the driver was arrested once before for robbing this same donut store. I think my commendation said that I have superior knowledge of crime trends, keen observation skills and outstanding tactics. Reality, I just wanted a cup of coffee.


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Retired Cops


By Hal Collier, LAPD, Retired

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

I’ve been retired for almost nine years now and I’ve learned a few things, That surprises you, huh? Some I’ll describe in one sentence, others will require a few more.  These are things that retirement has taught me.


Hawaii 50 oldI don’t watch cop shows or the news with my wife or non-cop friends. I once watched an episode of Hawaii 50. A guy was shot by a sniper on the beach. McGarrett stuck a pencil in the palm tree where a bullet had missed. He figured out which room from a thirty-story hotel the shot came from. I almost puked. Who writes this crap?


I pick apart the tactics, how they collect evidence and don’t even get me started on courtroom testimony. I laugh whenever a defense attorney serves a notice to dismiss and the prosecuting attorney says, “Well there goes our case.” I don’t think I ever had a case go to trial where the defense attorney didn’t file some kind of a motion to dismiss or suppress evidence. Almost all were denied.


How come TV lawyers are allowed to ramble on without actually asking the witness a question. I’m not a lawyer but I know enough law to ask who was the technical adviser for that show?


Retired cops don’t have to be politically correct anymore and if someone asks your honest opinion, you give it. They might not like your opinion but they asked for it.


If the news calls him a person of interest, hello: “He’s a damn suspect!!!”


breaking newsWhile watching breaking news, retired cops will have figured out who the suspect is and the motive. That’s two days before an arrest confirms your suspicions. It’s usually the husband or wife.


Retired cops can’t let go of their department or its politics. Watch a retired cop get upset when he sees a new police department policy. His blood pressure medicine will work overtime while he shouts, “That’s not the way we use to do it.”


You get sick to your stomach when you see who the department has promoted. You can tell no less than six screw up incidents they have starred in and now you’re not afraid to tell those stories. The funny thing is they tried to stay out of patrol to avoid a screw up and they even failed at that.


Sleeping in? Who are you kidding? At your age, you’re just glad to wake up! You sleep in and wake up with your wife holding a mirror under your nose to see if you’re still breathing.


Of course the dog is glad to see you get up. You’re the only one who feeds or plays with her and we know that special scratch spot on the dog.  We never could find that spot on our spouse.


Retired cops remember that they forgot to teach their wife how to change the paper towel holder.


You go out to eat dinner shortly after they are clearing the lunch dishes at the restaurant. You haven’t watched the Tonight Show live in years.


pic of jurorsRetired cops are now subject to Jury Duty. I spent half my career cursing at juries who let my arrestee go free. After jury duty a few times, I discovered I was right, most jurors shouldn’t be driving, voting or reproducing!


You’ve been retired for years and suddenly some dirt bag you arrested and sent to prison wins an appeal and gets a new trial. You get a subpoena and have to testify again but this time you don’t get paid or get free parking. By the way carrying a gun into the courthouse is a whole new experience.


Retired cops attend more retirement parties and everyone seems to have aged but you. Some still have hair but lost their wits and vice versa and where the hell did their waist go?  By the way, that’s not the wife you had when we worked together!


Retired cops still dream police dreams, you know the ones where you can’t run, or your gun won’t fire. I’m not naked as much as I was in kindergarten but I still wake up sweating. My wife thinks I should put in for overtime for all the police work I do in my sleep!


Retired cops see more partners and classmates in the death and funeral section of the police newsletter.


Retired cops get to see their grandkids a lot more and actually enjoy their company and are sad when they leave. They will listen to your stories over and over again and pretend it’s the first time they heard them. After playing with them on the floor, it’s harder to get up. You can’t wear out the dog or the grandkids anymore!


I’ve done more household chores, cooking, laundry, vacuuming, and driving my wife around without complaint.


Retired cops, if you’re bored or you have ten minutes before the game starts, you actually listen to the telemarketer’s spiel before telling him/her to go to hell. However, you don’t have time for door-to-door salesmen; you can’t just hang up on them.


The LA Times still pisses you off. You read the editorial section just so you can see if your blood pressure medication is working. Bill O’Reilly and Fox News is your new hero!


There’s still nothing on TV during the day unless it’s Sat/Sun. Even soccer in Spanish beats Jerry Springer. Where are my John Wayne videos?


You actually want to know how your spouse’s day was, because you didn’t speak to an adult for hours. Talking to an old dog doesn’t count!


walmartShopping at Wal-Mart some weeks is your high point. Did you notice the price of a canned corn? Can you believe you shaved to go shopping here!


Naps are not a waste of time anymore. Why did I fight my mother about naps when I was four?


You open old partners’ e-mails first, save them and reread them a week later.


You had to shave and trim your hair for thirty-five years. Now we want to grow beards, outrageous mustaches, or long hair. Why? Because we can (and we discover that our wives don’t ask us to go out as much). By the way, why does my wife want to throw out my old clothes just because I haven’t worn them since Regan was president?


Oh yea you don’t shave everyday unless you want sex or you have an appointment for long-term health care insurance.


Speaking of sex, you spend more time talking about it than actually doing it. Sometimes it’s over before the commercial is.


Get a group of cops together and they can exchange stories for hours, most subject to memory. Cops bond for life.


Retirement has also taught me to enjoy the past but live in the present. Regardless of your time on the job, you made a difference and someone appreciates the sacrifices you made.


If you have something retirement has taught you, send them to me and I’ll add them to the list. This is my list. I’d love to hear from the females on their retirement.



Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Jury Duty, part 2

Jury Duty

part 2

By Hal Collier



Last week, I wrote about my first day of jury duty.  A short recap is I sat in the assembly room for 7 1/2 hours and then was told to report to Department 108 the following week.  It was going to be a 30 day trial–that’s 6 weeks in real time.  The only excuses were financial hardship (my pension disqualifies me from that), medical impairment or hardship (I think my twitch is back), or caring for small children or an elderly parent.  Now I do take care of grandchildren 1 or 2 days a week, but that’s because I like to spend time with them. 


I’m screwed. 


I asked for advice from former cops that have experienced getting out of jury duty.  Some of the responses I received were helpful, some would only find me in contempt of court.  A few samples:  Tell the defense that your experience in law enforcement will prejudice you toward the prosecution.  That should work.  Another advises to tell them your dog is pregnant and you don’t know who the father is.  That sounds like a few hours in the holding tank.  I received advice from 3 different states.  My sister, always the positive one, remarked that the jury duty experience would supply me with more stories to share.  I think I would rather exchange stories with RJ about his putting pennies in a bag of water over a door to keep out flies.  Another friend suggested that I denounce my citizenship. He said in his county they are only expected to call in one day.  A former cop had the best answer.  Explain the many reviews that go into a filing and the prosecution of the dirt bag.  In laymen terms that’s means if it goes this far—he is guilty.


I spent many nights lying awake, rehearsing my story.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing my civic duty, but after 35 years of being a cop I figure I’ve done my share.  6 weeks sitting in a room listening to liberal lawyers trying to confuse a jury is not my idea of retirement.


The big day comes, I’m prepared.  I’m nervous, just like before taking an oral interview for promotion.  I have to be in court at 1:30.  I drive downtown early and arrive at 1:00 P.M.  I walk the 1/4 mile down Bunker Hill to get to the court house.  There is a long line to get through the metal detectors.  I get in line and see a Hollywood officer I used to supervise. He is in the short “officer only” line.  Another reminder, I’m GP—general public.  I remove everything from my pockets and step through the metal detector.  I’m advised that I have a handcuff key on my key ring and have to turn it in to the sheriff’s deputy.  Now, I have authority to carry my handgun, a fully loaded 9 mm semi-automatic, but there I am, turning in my hand cuff key.


I arrive on the 9th floor which is packed, mostly jurors, like myself. Another metal detector, I’m clean.  I find a seat on the bench and wait.  I see two former Hollywood detectives get off the elevator.  I say “hi” but they ignore me at first.  I forgot, I’m wearing my “Jury” badge.  Again, I’m GP.  No one is supposed to talk to jurors.  They are in a different court room. Damn, I was hoping for a conflict to get excused.  I see a gentlemen walking down the hall, he looks familiar. He looks at me and there is a look of recognition.  I believe I have arrested him some time but can’t place his face.  He enters another court.


My court clerk comes out and calls roll.  Only one juror is absent.  I’m amazed, because my group has 58 potential jurors.  After 30 minutes we’re herded into the court room and seated.  I recognize the judge, I think I testified before him just before I retired, maybe another conflict.  The judge explains that the trial will last 6 weeks, possibly ending just before Christmas.  It’s a murder trial, with special circumstances, that means death penalty.  We are then given a 15 page questionnaire and sent back out into the hall.  Each question has sub-questions.  If you answer yes, explain, same for no answers.  They want to know my views on the death penalty, illegal Immigrants, drug dealers, gun ownership, well—you get the picture.  I could do a whole page on “would you give more weight to a police officer’s testimony?”.   I’m worried my pen might run out of ink.  The witness list has more names then the USC football roster.  I recognize a few LAPD officers, maybe another conflict. Okay, I really don’t want to spend 6 weeks hiking up and down Bunker Hill. 


We turn in our questionnaires and are ordered back in one week.  Swell, another week of waking up in the middle of the night rehearsing my reasons for being excused.  I’m seriously thinking of using the pregnant dog excuse.  If I’m in lock-up I won’t be on the jury.  I might even be taken off the jury summons mailing list.


D-Day I think I’m finally going to get excused, I sail right through both metal detectors, I’m become a pro.  I find a seat in the hall and wait.  I’m listening to jurors from another court case, they’re on day 15—yikes.  I see the two defense attorneys enter the courtroom, they have California Berkeley written all over them.  The court bailiff comes out into the hall and states, “Raise your hand if you’re a juror in Department 108”.  Ok this it, time to give your well prepared excuse.  The deputy states, “The court has successfully picked a jury and you are all excused.”  First there was silence, then some applause, then a dash for the elevators.  I’m guessing they had 2 jury pools, one in the morning and my group in the afternoon.  No complaints.  I’m good for at least a year and then we’ll start all over again. 


I’d like to thank everyone who replied with advice.  I’m not going to have to denounce my citizenship, sit in the lock-up with someone who is blowing me kisses, and have my dog checked for a due date. 


I can just go back to being GP.



Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Jury Duty, part 1

Jury Duty, part 1

By Hal Collier

I retired 4 1/2 years ago. I spent my entire 34 years in patrol—you know—the “Backbone of the Department.”  I spent 19 years working “Grave Yard”. That’s the midnight to 8 A.M.  During that span I spent a lot of time in court after working a whole shift.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I finished my shift and spent the next 8 hours in court waiting for the slow wheels of justice to turn.  The early years we were compensated with 3 hours, no matter how many hours we were there. Some days we got out in 10 minutes, but others we were there when the sun went down.  Often we drove home at 6 P.M. and were expected to be back at work in 4 hours.  OK, that was the job and we accepted it.


As a police officer we are exempt from “Jury Duty.”  That all changes when you retire.  The chance of a defense attorney wanting a retired police officer on a jury judging his client is very slim.  18 months ago I received my first jury duty summons.  I called in for 5 days and was not asked to report, piece of cake.


In October, I received another letter informing me I had jury duty. I called in for three days and was told not to report. Then on Thursday, I was advised to report to Criminal Courts Building. That’s downtown. I spent more time in that building, than with my kids growing up.  Now, the County of Los Angeles treats people selected for jury duty with kid gloves.  Just kidding, they have you park a 1/4 of a mile from the court house, but it’s free.  You sit in a large room, maybe 250 people who were not able to come up with an excuse. I got there early and got a comfortable chair.  You get the orientation, explaining how glad you should be that you can serve.  They try to cheer you up by telling you they pay $15 a day, but only on the 2nd day. 




Two hours later, they call 40 names and send them to a court as potential jurors.  Some come back early, I can see why. They have “probable cause stop” written all over them.  For my non-police friends that means they beg to be stopped by the police by their appearance.  The potential jurors are randomly picked by a computer.  Some get picked 2 or 3 times, while I miss the first 4 jury calls.  I figure I’m sitting in a lucky seat.


Fast forward to 3 P.M. except it hasn’t been fast.  I’ve been sitting in this room for 7 1/2 hours, the lady behind me has been trying to cough up a lung, the guy in front of me has been snoring for 2 hours and the lady next to me has been on her cell phone for 6 of the 7 1/2 hours.  I’m thinking of asking her for a job because she must be pretty damn important.




The calm is broken when the Juror coordinator steps out of her office and says the next jury panel will have special instructions.  The room goes silent, the lady next to me hangs up.  The coordinator says the next jury trial will last about 30 days, that’s court days, 6 weeks plus.  Figure in Thanksgiving, they also close the 3rd Wednesday of every month, budget cuts, including any other excuse that comes up.  If I get picked for this jury, I’ll be eligible for Social Security when the trial is over, that’s if there still is Social Security.


The coordinator reads off the valid excuses for not being on a 30 day trial. I just missed the one being pregnant and due within 2 weeks.  I have one of those sinking feelings, you know—the one where you think you forgot to pay your taxes.  Well sure enough, my name is called.  I try to induce labor, nothing.  We are directed to the hall outside for special instructions.  I immediately scan my group, the snoring guy is there, the lady coughing up a lung is there, the lady on the cell phone is missing, that figures.  I’m a dead duck, I’m going to get picked.  I figure a 30 day trial is some high profile trial, maybe murder.  Shame it’s not Polanski. 




We are given our instructions and told that we have to call Tuesday night to see if we have to report.  She explains that not all of us will be called to report. She has a smile on her face; I suspect she is trying to save her butt.  She is surrounded by 50 people, some unstable, who have just been told they might have to spend the next 6 weeks deciding if some dirt bag should go free.  She finishes by telling us we get to leave an hour early, nice touch.  We all pile into the elevator to leave, it’s like identifying a loved one at the morgue.  No one’s talking, just a lot of deep sighs. I suspect shock.  I can’t help myself, I proclaim, “What a perfect ending to a nice day”.  I get a nice laugh.  Another says, “Well, I hope we don’t see each again”.  Shit, if I’m on this jury they’ll pick me as Jury Foreman.  When will I learn to keep my mouth shut?


We all head out to the 1/4 mile hike back to our cars, this time it’s all uphill.  Did I mention the parking is on top of Bunker Hill?  I’m trying to remember where “Angels Flight” is.  I find my truck in the Disney Parking lot on the first try, not always easy after some of those “28 hour awake” days I mentioned earlier.  I turn the ignition on and my truck will not start.  After 3 tries it starts.  I’m wondering what else can go wrong today, then I remember its 3:30 and I have to drive through China Town to get home.  I pull into my driveway and ask forgiveness for whatever I’ve done to deserve this day. 




I was afraid to check the mail, might be an audit notice from the IRS.  The puppy was glad to see me; she didn’t have anyone to play with all day.  I don’t know what to do with her if I have to serve 30 days.   I’m still thinking they won’t want a retired cop on a jury but after today I’m questioning my instincts. 


This saga will continue next week.  If you have advice or a like story, I like to hear from you.  I’d like to think I’m not the only smuck. 


The above story is true, the opinions are of the author.


So how was your day?


P.S.  The pauses were where I had to get up because my butt was falling asleep after 7 1/2 hours sitting on it yesterday.  Then again, maybe I should get used to it.

%d bloggers like this: