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.


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Survival Tactics

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

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

Ramblings: Foot Pursuit, part 2, Rules

By Hal Collier

The story you are about to read is true.  In my last Ramblings I talked about my worst foot pursuit.  If you remember, it involved slipping on ice plant, being clothes-lined, stepping in a rose bush and getting my hand smashed by the door of a police car.  I laugh when I watch cop shows on TV.  They are always running in good light, the cops take a short cut that leads to a tackle of the bad guy.  They never ruin a new uniform, which in the old days we paid for out of our own pocket.  The officers almost never lose a foot pursuit or get hurt and other police cars show up within seconds to assist.  All false.  The reality is that your often alone, running in the dark, through terrain that only a fool would attempt.

In my early years I was not a fast runner but I could run longer than a cheetah.  I would usually outlast the hypes and high school gym dropouts that I was chasing.  I used to brag that I never lost a foot pursuit.  That lasted about 6 years.  Then one night the inevitable happened.

My partner and I received a radio call of a car stripper in a car port.  We made the usual stealth approach, car lights out, radio turned down, car doors cracked.  As we approached the carport the suspect saw us.  He bolted southbound through the apartment buildings.  I’m confident that I’ll have him in custody in a short time.  I’m also sure that my partner, a heavy smoker, is right behind me.

We bound over a short wall behind the apartment building and run between two other apartments.  We zig zag between some parked cars as we cross the next street and run up the driveway of another apartment building.  He’s got a pretty good lead but I’ve never lost a foot pursuit.  I look over my shoulder–my partner is not behind me.  We run up a driveway and over another short fence.  I hear my partner; he’s in our car on the street we crossed ten seconds ago.  We cross another street and head up a driveway of a house.  In the back yard, the suspect jumps over a six foot wood fence.  As I approach the fence, I slip on something. I’ll bet it’s from a dog.  I get up and start to put my hands on the top of the fence.  I stop.  The fence is spiked with nails, all pointing up.  I’m not jumping over a fence with nails to catch a dirt bag that some judge will give probation as a sentence.  I’m either getting older or smarter.

My partner is one block north of me, as well as the helicopter and other policemen.  They’re looking for me.  This was before we had radios on our belts.  I look at the top of the fence, it’s got blood and some clothing stuck to the nails.  Ha, ha, he’ll pay for running from me.  For the next few weeks I looked at every dirt bag hands to see if he had puncture wounds.

I also had some foot pursuits that were pretty funny after they were over.  We’re responding to a radio call of a crazy man in the middle of Sunset Boulevard, west of La Brea.  We see him in the middle of the street.  We stop our police car in the middle of Sunset and order the nut to put his hands up.  I notice right away he’s a Democrat, because he gives us a one finger wave and runs northbound.  We broadcast that we’re in foot pursuit and chase him.  In the old days the only radio we had was attached to the car.

The suspect runs into a house–ok, not into the house like through a door but into the side of the house.  He bounces off the house, turns around and runs southbound down Formosa Avenue.  My partner is about ten feet behind me, another smoker.  The suspect goes about a hundred feet down the middle of Formosa and runs around a parked car and heads northbound.

He’s now heading right at my partner.  My partner swings his plastic flashlight at the suspect missing his head and hitting him on the shoulder.  My partner forgot his nightstick in the car.  The flashlight comes apart, I step on one of his batteries and land on my ass.  I’m pissed.  The suspect runs westbound through an alley behind a strip club which just happens to be letting out.

Ok, we’ve changed directions twice since my original broadcast.  I can hear the police cars and helicopter looking for us but they’re a block north of us.  I’m about thirty feet behind the bad guy and I see some patrons of the strip club.   I yell at them as I run past, “Call the police and tell them which direction we’re going.”  I hear one of them say, “Aren’t they the police?”  What do you expect from a guy coming out of a strip club in Hollywood?  The suspect runs southbound on Alta Vista on the sidewalk when I see something I’ve never seen before.  A guy in a Porsche pulls across the sidewalk blocking our suspect’s path.

The suspect makes a U-turn and runs right at me.  Ok, I have my nightstick.  I carried a 5 cell sportsman flashlight, good for light but not for hitting someone.  Kept me out of trouble that other officers got into that carried Kel-lites.   A Kel-lite was a metal flashlight which was sometimes used as a club.

As he nears me I raise my stick high and when he put his hands up to fight, I lower my stick and whack him across his legs just below the knees.  He goes down immediately.  We get him handcuffed and I look up to see the guy in the Porsche drive away. He’s giving us a thumbs up.

I look at my partner and ask “Who was that masked man?”  We walked our suspect back up to Sunset where a Sergeant says, “Where the hell have you been?”  He says you were supposed to be north of Sunset.  I look the Sergeant in the eye and tell him, “I guess our nut lost his script.”

That’s right he was crazy as a loon. You guess, if I’m talking about the Sergeant or the suspect.


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