More Street Stories

War Stories

By Thonie Hevron

As you know, I host this blog every Sunday morning related to law enforcement. Currently I have several retired LAPD veterans who write posts, like war stories at briefing. While their readership is growing, I’ve been thinking of mixing it up a bit—with prompts. I ask and you answer. “Tell me about the time you…”

A retired deputy friend of mine, Will Wallman, gave me an excellent idea: When did you first know you were no longer a rookie cop?

Some future prompts might be like this:

  • When did you realize you couldn’t tell civilians what you did for a living in a social situation? What did you say was your occupation?
  • Do/did you experience burn-out? If so, what do/did you do about it?
  • What do you do to stay sharp on the job? To decompress or blow off steam?
  • Talk about the proudest moment of your career.
  • What was your idea of the best job ever?

To answer, click on “reply,” then “accept” cookies and type your comment in the “reply” box. You may have to create an identity in Wordpress but you will be prompted if you need to. If you have an idea for a prompt, feel free to PM me or send me your ideas at

Situational answers are great, one-liners work, too. My audience is mostly mystery writers and other cop-like folk. Caveat: please, no politics or religion unless it relates to the story.

Here are a few examples of real answers to “When did you know you were no longer a rookie cop?” from a private LE Facebook page I belong to:

TB (Northern California rural deputy): The first time I thought I might get shot on duty. Or, when I drove around the corner after making a death notification for a 5-year-old girl, who was spending the night at her cousins, and started crying. Time on the job sometimes doesn’t mean a lot, but experience does.

WM (suburban municipal police Northern California): It was when I graduated from SRJC (Santa Rosa Junior College) Police Academy! With no prior police experience just 8 years in the military, as a supply clerk. I was on my own about 2 weeks after I was hired. No FTO. I had been on the street pretty much in solo units for 18 months before starting Academy. California police work was a lot different back in the 1960’s.

KG (small northern California municipality): My father died from suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, I knew one day that call would come. I remember it being all business on scene but later it hit me. I didn’t have a meltdown or anything and I’m pretty sure I didn’t cry. As time went on, I actually felt pretty good about being able to do the job and checking my personal stuff at the door. I had maybe two years’ experience then, and the rule was rookie for 5 years, but I knew then I was capable so in my head I was no longer a rook.

CL (rural California sheriff’s deputy): Hired by HPD after being a reserve for a few months. First day on the job it was me and the chief. My first call was from the chief and it was “10-50x at Silviera Pontiac. We were using the old nine code back then and I had no clue what I was going to and wasn’t going to ask! Drove there kinda fast and it was a VIN verification. Not a veteran yet.
That took six months and a big bar fight at Norm’s and a head injury requiring a trip to ER, stitches and time off to let the swelling go down.

Please feel free to share (anonymously if you wish). We’d love to see your answers.


Next week, Ed Meckle will be back with a few stories about Wilshire Detectives.

By Force or Fear, Intent to Hold, and With Malice Aforethought
all available on Amazon
Writer's Notes

A Moment to Savor

By Thonie Hevron

As an Army brat, we traveled while I was growing up. One of my earliest memories was of making friends with Patsy Simmons, another brat in my military housing in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. We were friends for the three years I lived there. When we moved back to the states, I never saw her again. I didn’t have much time to make new friends in Tacoma, Washington (Fort Lewis posting) in the next six months because we were unpacking, then packing again to go home to Mill Valley, California. Before I was twelve, we’d bought and sold three homes in that small town. Moving seemed to be a part of life like taxes. In one school, my class began to learn old math, the next school, I’d just missed learning “new” math. I still have issues with the multiplications tables. Still, I became adept at making friends, because I had to do it over and over.

All this has less to do with computation skills than giving you a glimmer of who I am. As a kid and young adult, I yearned for one place to call home. In 1966, my mother finally found a house she wanted to settle in Mill Valley. After attending three different schools in in this quaint Northern California town, I enrolled in “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” elementary school. I started in the sixth grade. Being tall for my age, I was always at the end of the line. No worries, I was used to it. But at Mount Carmel, there was a girl even taller! I began to feel at home as I caught up socially and academically. Thus began a fifty-two year friendship with Helen.

High school was even more satisfying. At Marin Catholic, I was introduced to college prep education. In this school, there were children of “successful” parents—one owned a Ford dealership, another was the grandson of a major maritime shipping line, many were children of attorneys and doctors. Being the child of a master sergeant, then a Deputy US Marshal, I felt like I didn’t fit in. While my mother made most of my clothes, I didn’t appreciate the uniqueness. “Store-bought” is what the other kids had; why couldn’t I have that, too? Oh, we don’t have enough money? Okay.

Scholastically, I was an average student. I chose to daydream and goof off rather than apply myself. My friends at Marin Catholic centered on Jan (who came to MC in our sophomore year) and Helen. I felt gratified when the “popular” kids spent time with me and my pals. We didn’t hang out a lot because in those days, I eschewed the prom queen and cheer leaders for “hippier” people. Socially, I was sure I was somewhere in the middle between the “ducks” and the “cool kids.” I’m not so sure, now.

All my moving around made me want to be like everyone else even more.

When my class graduated, my friends went on to college and flourished as nurses, teachers, a Stanford professor, top executives with IBM and such. I spent the next thirty-five years in police stations.

Marin Catholic Class of 70 Christmas Luncheon 2012
Marin Catholic Class of 70 Christmas Luncheon 2012

Fast forward forty-four years (OMG!): Since our 40th high school reunion, many of us have found we enjoy each other’s company so much that we don’t want to wait another decade to visit. In the four years since our big “40th,” many of us have gotten to know each other even better. Annual dinner parties, picnics and even a girls’ sleep-over one weekend are examples of the fun we have together.

Our annual 2014 dinner party was scheduled for August 26 at Rickey’s in Novato, Ca. I had a reading in Santa Rosa, 20 miles to the north, earlier in the day so I told the girls that I’d be a little late for pre-event drinks at the bar. On the drive down I made better time than I anticipated, so I was excited to see my friends and a little breathless at rushing around.

I walked into the bar and a dozen of my dear friends looked up and spontaneously cheered my arrival. “Hurray for Thonie!” and “Here’s our published author!” My chest could barely contain the gratitude I felt for all these accomplished women who saluted me. I felt like not only had I achieved my dreams but I had done something worthy of their attention. Truth is they probably would have shouted a grand hello to me anyway. I didn’t care. The honest spontaneity of the greeting made this a significant event. In years past, I might have yearned for it. I can’t remember that far back. But, it came that day, on its own schedule.

It was over quickly, as I grabbed a glass of champagne and joined them. I’ve never been good at being the focus of attention, even when I secretly enjoyed it.

No matter. It is in my heart forever.


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