Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Short Stories

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 stories are true and instead of a long rambling story they are short remembrances.

To some, Hollywood is the glamour capital of the world. Movie stars, fancy restaurants, expensive houses and night clubs. To cops who spent too much time in Hollywood, know it for what it is, a town of broken dreams, runaway kids and violence. To keep your sanity, cops had to find humor in little incidents.

First, you can’t live in a big city without seeing some strange sights. I’m sure farmers see strange things too but I don’t think you want to hear about animals having sex in the back seat of a rusted out Chevy. Photos available if you have a note from your therapist.

I’m still amused when I recall this story.

I worked all night and then went to court. I spent all day in court, so I’ve been up for about twenty-three hours. I’m dead tired and the freeways are jam-packed with rush hour traffic. It’s November and cold. I drive up Temple and I’ll take Glendale Boulevard to the 2 freeway and head home to Eagle Rock.

So did everyone else.

I’m sitting in bumper to bumper traffic as I’m passing Echo Park Lake. Echo Park Lake is a city lake, filled with used diapers, tossed hand guns, and any other trash that our lower IQ population throws in. Oh, I forgot to mention, there’s something resembling water in the lake. I wouldn’t put my hand in that water on a double-dog dare.

As I’m sitting there I look over at the lake and see a man swimming out toward the middle of the lake.  Yew, I can’t imagine what would make a man swim in that filth and then I see it. One of those $200.00 remote controlled boats. It’s dead in the water in the middle of the lake. He obviously didn’t use the Energizer batteries. I wished I hadn’t had the sixth cup of coffee at court, I almost peed in my only court suit.

This is a very old story (early 70’s) but still makes me smile. One night, my partner and I stop this car for a traffic violation. The driver jumps out and tells us how important he is—he’s a defense lawyer and doesn’t like cops. He’s already late for a court appointment and we shouldn’t waste the tax-payers’ money detaining him any longer.

He has already committed three ‘contempt of cop’ violations. I write him a ticket which he says will cost me my badge. My partner checks him for warrants and the gods shined down on us that day.

That’s right. This fine upstanding member of the legal community has an unpaid $10.00 parking ticket. In 1971, a warrant required immediate arrest. We took this very important lawyer’s ass to Hollywood Station where he was booked. He immediately paid the $10.00 and was free to go. Only an hour delay in his important life. He had the nerve to ask us for a ride back to his car. Ha Ha. We only give rides one way. By the way, I kept my badge.

One more story. An off duty LAPD officer was brought into the station for an alleged act of misconduct involving illegal drugs. The officer was placed in the captain’s office, unattended, until his lawyer could arrive to represent him. After the officer was removed, a sergeant, asked: what if that officer hid some drugs in the captain’s office?

A K-9 dope-sniffing dog was requested. The dog started his search of the office. I was present as the dog made a quick trip around the space. Suddenly the dog did what most policemen would have paid a month’s salary to do. That’s right, the dog squatted and crapped right on the captain’s carpet. It wasn’t the solid kind either. It looked like the dog had a Pink’s Chili Dog on the way to the station. The dog left a trail of squirts from the captain’s office all the way out the back door.


Next week: August 16th, 2015 will feature “The Character who is somewhere between the street people who inhabited Hollywood and the cops who gave color to the station–Howie Lesser.”


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Revenge and FLIR

The following story is true and comes from the memory of an old retired street cop.  These incidents happened and all on your tax dollar.


Dale Hickerson and I are partners and were driving west on Sunset Boulevard when we receive a MDT (Mobile Digital Terminal, an in-car computer) message. “Look at the old bald heads in that police car.” Now, we take immediate exception, Dale has a full head of hair. We look behind us and see two very young female officers. By young I mean they are still pooping Range Burgers, available at the police academy café during recruit training.


Dale and I laugh and plan revenge. We have to be careful, practical jokes now days are considered sexual harassment, discrimination, or a hostile work environment. Neither one of us wants to tap into our deferred compensation retirement program to defend a lawsuit. The lawyers have taken all the fun out of police work.  The next lawyer I stop for running a red light is getting a ticket.


We drive around until we spot a dead pigeon in the road. Dale and I look at each other and thank the patron saint of police officers. We scoop up the pigeon and look for our prey. They are at the station. Perfect—we don’t want the citizens of Hollywood to see us breaking into a police car and calling the Watch Commander.


We place the recently deceased bird under the front passenger seat of their car. It’s just out of sight but close enough that when the brakes are applied it will roll out from under the seat. We’re too busy to follow them around, but I hear the scream could be heard for miles.


Ok, I just made sergeant and I’m assigned to morning watch in Southeast Division (Watts). I’m learning that being a supervisor is different than being a street cop. I respond to a robbery that just occurred. The responding officers just missed the suspect and the helicopter is overhead. The helicopter is equipped with FLIR. That stands for Forward Looking InfraRed. It detects heat (like body heat) sources on the ground. It’s great for finding bad guys hiding on a hillside or in a park. It’s also good for finding a warm car after a pursuit.


The FLIR system has a few drawbacks. I was once directed to a spot in the bushes and came face to face with a very angry coyote. Another time we ordered a suspect to come out from a small enclosure attached to a house. It was a water heater.


Ok, back to Watts. The helicopter detects a hot spot in the alley behind the store. I grab a cop and head to the alley. I’m directed to an ivy covered fence. I tell the cop I’ll lift the ivy and you cover me with your gun. I lift the ivy and am immediately am overcome with an odor that would gag a seasoned coroner. My suspect is a very decomposed dead dog.

Next time I’ll supervise and leave the searching to the street cops.