The Call Box

The Call Box: Motor Cop Stories

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD
I was present for the first two of these tales, as to the third the officer who told the story to a group claims it happened to him. Knowing him, I find it very easy to believe.
I’m working Metro Division, plain clothes patrol in the early evening. We have just turned from a side street to southbound Avalon Boulevard, a busy thoroughfare in south L.A—and a high crime area. As we make the turn, directly in front of us are two L.A.P.D. motor officers. They are about to stop a vehicle containing two males that is directly in front of them. The vehicle is signaled to the curb. Although slowing, the driver seems reluctant to stop. It creeps along for almost a block, is signaled again and makes an abrupt turn to the curb. As the motor officers make the stop, we both observe a small bundle thrown from the passenger window landing in the gutter. It is obvious neither motor officer saw it.
We immediately pull over to watch. One officer writes the driver while his partner stands not three feet from the bundle. When the citation is complete, he is signaled to leave but is again reluctant to move. Signaled again, he slowly leaves. A few moments of conversation and the motor officers leave. We check the package which appears to be heroin. Who could have guessed?
We replace it and conceal ourselves nearby. We wait a long three or four minutes before the car returns. Now, they can’t find the right spot and are off by several car lengths. Finally, finally, they spot it and when one of them picks it up, we introduce ourselves.
Years later, I’m a detective sergeant working robbery when two motor officers bring in an armed robbery suspect for booking approval. It seems the officers were “sitting in” at a major intersection on the high income west side when they observed a male “jaywalk” directly in front of them. While one officer wrote the citation the other gazed about the landscape.
Soon, he saw a well-dressed male, his feet bound at the ankles, hands tied behind him and wearing a gag, hop out of a nearby jewelry store.
Going from traffic enforcement mode to law enforcement mode they immediately suspected something was amiss with their jaywalker. His sweater had been tucked into his trousers and was stuffed to overflowing with jewelry. Underneath it all, a pistol.
I give them booking approval and instructions on writing the report and disposition of the evidence and then complimented them on a damn fine arrest. Instead of being pleased they are “pissed” at losing time from ticket writing to make a felony arrest. I later found out the last thing they did when they booked him: made sure he signed the ticket.
The retired motor cop relating this story tells us he and his partner were working Hollywood Boulevard, night watch when a cabbie with a fare commits a flagrant violation right in front of them. The next night before roll call, the sergeant takes him aside and asks if he examined the ticket after the cabbie signed.
“No, sir.”
“Take a look at the signature— ‘I’m being held up.’”
True? He says so.
The Call Box

The Call Box: More Copland Stories

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

Copland stories

polic-call-box-pedestal-lapd-gamewell-DCAL2786_dt1The 1958 TV season gave us a show wherein the narrator intoned, “There are seven million stories in the Naked City. This is one.”

I am willing to bet out there in “Copland,” there are at least that many stories just concerning the courts—quirky judges, inept attorneys, naïve victims, witless witnesses and dumb defendants.

More stories:


There was the “sleeping” judge who, liked a “taste” now and then. He tended to nod off while court was in session. Rumor had it that his bailiff stood close by and when an attorney made an objection the bailiff made the decision and would tap the judges leg–one tap “sustained” and two taps for “overruled.”

True? I don’t know but that was the story and everyone knew the judge was a tippler.


One of our detectives spent a lot of time trying to locate an important witness. The detective left his business card everywhere and did not get a call. The cards in addition to name, rank, phone number, etc., had a preprinted (case number) DR#– — —. The officer filled in the number so when the party called he or she could match up the report. The first 2 numbers were the year and the next 6 were the report file number. It might look something like this DR# 65 456 789. When the witness was finally found, and asked why he hadn’t called, he swore he tried but the voice on the phone kept-telling him the number he dialed, DR# 65 456 789 was not a working number.

True? I don’t know, but funny.


Then there was the female judge known for her flamboyant and bizarre behavior. [check out Hal Collier’s post about another/same or same judge] Her chambers were done in pink including drapes which her pink poodle had chewed to ribbons (saw this myself). She had dated a Los Angeles motorcycle officer and during one of their squabbles threatened to “give him a .38 caliber vasectomy.” That bit of information flew round the P.D. like a shot.

On another occasion an attorney failed to make an appearance. After discovering he was in federal court, she sent her marshal to arrest him in the federal courtroom. The federal judge did not take kindly to this and had his federal marshal arrest the county marshal.

After showing her that he was “the alpha dog,” he released her marshal.



No poodles, motor officers, nor marshals were injured during this story.


For several years there were numerous satellite courtrooms in downtown L.A. Most were in Chinatown, on obscure side streets with no parking, and most in double wide trailers. I got stuck in one for several days one summer. The air conditioner was working overtime and not doing well. It was HOT! The bailiff told me that the judge was able to manage so well due to the fact he wore only underwear under his robe and had a fan under his bench blowing up his robe.

I verified that when I saw his bare legs as he left the bench. Whatever works.


The Call Box

The Call Box: Improbable Journey, part 3

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

We learned of the law and evidence, physical training—and we ran. We learned traffic codes, penal codes and more codes—and we ran. We learned how to arrest, when to arrest and who to arrest and we ran some more. We learned how to shoot; when to shoot and who to shoot and we still kept running. We fired tear gas and as it drifted into the heavy brush, we watched as illicit “lovers” ran away crying and still we ran. 


Thirteen weeks later, on May 4, against all odds, all 34 of us graduated and were turned loose upon the criminal element of Los Angeles. The LA of 1956 was a world apart from 2016.


There were few freeways. The Harbor Freeway had only made it to Adams southbound. The Valley had one division; Van Nuys ran out of City Hall. There were no seat belts in the cars, air support, K-9’s, mounted unit, or SWAT. Motor officers wore soft hats while we wore shoulder straps and carried .38 revolvers. There were no computers, portable radios or DNA. The wages were meager, but who cared? We were the best of the best—we were Los Angeles police officers. Bill Parker was chief; we were young and invincible. 


In March of this year, 8 of the 11 survivors gathered to celebrate 60. Conversations were subdued as though we marveled at where we had been, what we had done, and who we had become. We raised a glass as I read the names of those gone before and toasted those present.


The feeling of camaraderie and sense of nostalgia was almost palpable as though we were surprised to be there.




So who were we and what had we done and become? We produced captains and lieutenants. One chief of police, (Culver City)] who became the longest serving chief in California. One of us became “Mr. Robbery” with over 50 years on the job, most of it as a robbery detective. We served in all capacities—some became famous, but most unsung.



Three of us got shot, one twice—what are the odds? We produced heroes and nobodies. We laughed and cried at our victories and defeats. We mourned fallen comrades and celebrated togetherness. 


We were gray warriors living on memories of deeds past. We were the 8 percent. Did we really make a difference? I like to think so.


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