Roll Call

Roll Call: Queenie, Mike, and the 6th Street Use of Force

By Mikey, Retired LAPD

free police picIt was 1993 and I was working Rampart morning watch patrol as a field supervisor. I had a lot of fun there. One particular shift at about 0100 in the morning an “officer needs help” call went out at 6th Street and Bixel.  On the LAPD, calls go this way in order of severity: “Back up,” means ‘no need to rush but get there ASAP.’ An officer “Requesting assistance,” means ‘get here quicker than ASAP.’  “HELP,” yeah, send everyone and everything instantly, or sooner.  

When I arrive at 6th and Bixel there is a suspect in custody, injured and an officer injured. The suspect claims that the officers hit him in the head with their flashlights. If the claim were true, it would be an out of policy use of force. The officers said that the suspect had been in an altercation prior to their arrival. When they discovered him bleeding from a head injury, he became combative and attacked one of the officers causing her injuries. I could find no witnesses and there were no surveillance cameras at or near the location.

homeless man w pupThe next night I went back to the location at about the same time to see if I could find any potential witnesses–someone who may have left to avoid involvement from the prior evenings incident. There, on a bus bench, I found a homeless man and his dog. Mike and his dog Queenie had been there the night before and had seen the incident. Mike said he had seen the suspect fighting with two other men and one of the men struck the suspect in the head with a long object. The suspect fell to the ground and the two men fled. Shortly after that the officers arrived. Mike said the man attacked the officer. He said the officers used physical force only. From his bus bench, his view was unobstructed with good lighting.

I bought Mike and Queenie breakfast, gave him my business card and completed a follow up report to the use of force. A week later, toward end of watch, 0800, I was called to the station where I found Mike sitting in the lobby. He had been crying and told me that he had been arrested for public intoxication and Queenie had been shipped off to the dog pound. The folks at the pound informed Mike that he needed $56.00 to bail out Queenie or no more Queenie. The pound was closed so I bought Mike some breakfast as we waited for the pound to open up.

dog in poundWe got there shortly after it had opened. To my surprise there were a lot of folks there, mainly gang-type folks. A vice unit had taken down a pit bull fighting ring and these folks were there to bail out their dogs. 

I was still in uniform, so I had everybody’s attention as Mike and I made our way up to the counter. I informed the desk guy why Mike and I were there and that we had Queenie’s bail money. Mike was handed some paperwork and as he was filling out the information he asks me what address he should use. I told him to use the station’s address. About this time, I noticed several of the pit bull guys paying attention to what Mike and I were doing.

One of them asked, “Dude, are you helping him to get his dog?” 

I said yes and I swear, the guy, dressed down like a gangster was holding back tears.

Now the attention was totally on us.  “Dude that is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” 

Then the murmurs of approval began. I really hadn’t thought about what I was doing; only that Mike had come through for my officers and now he needed help. We got Queenie, gave and received some warm good byes and headed home. 

Never saw the two again and I wonder what happened to them.  As street coppers, we see and deal with the best and the worst of what the city has to offer.  We compartmentalize events, good things and things we don’t want to remember but from time to time do.  I’ve been retired 10 years now but once in a while I feel an emotion, before I remember the event.

Review Ed and Hal’s stories and mine.  Our most pronounced memories are of our time in the field, on the streets in the cruiser, Ed’s “radio car.”  Once the torch is passed that is all that is passed–not the memories.

Those are ours to keep, the good and the bad.

Roll Call

Roll Call: The Norton Avenue Incident

A new column, “Roll Call,” appears  on alternate Sundays starting today. The author is called “Mikey.” In the ongoing mission to bring the real stories to literature, television, movies, the internet, Mikey has joined Hal Collier and Ed Meckle from LAPD to share his tales.

His creds: Served in the USAF as a military police officer, 1 year in Vietnam.  Joined the Ontario PD in 1971 and remained until 1973 when he joined the LAPD. He worked Juvenile, Narcotics, Vice, Training and Patrol.  Mikey made sergeant in 1990 and retired in 2008, from Hollywood Division.

Here’s his first story: The Norton Avenue Incident by Mikey

Norton Avenue, Wilshire Area 1991

In my eighteen years of being a field sergeant, I was fortunate to have learned early what it meant to appreciate the field officers—both seasoned and the “wrinkle-frees,” as I referred to them. This is a story of bravery and selfless devotion to the communities we serve.

Occasionally, being in the right place at the right time can be a very healthy thing—if not for you then for someone else. I had been a sergeant six months when the Rodney King incident occurred. I was assigned to Wilshire Patrol and usually worked the morning watch. However, because I had been a PT/ Self Defense instructor at the academy I was asked to attend several community meetings throughout the city to explain the department’s use of force policy following the Rodney King incident.


This temporary assignment required me to adjust my work schedule. It was about 1:30 P.M. when I was picking up coffee at the Winchell’s on La Cienega at Washington in preparation to attend a community meeting in the valley. So, I wasn’t supposed to be in that division. The call that we all dread, “Officer needs help, shots fired, officer down,” came out over the air. The call was on Norton Avenue near 9th Street.

I responded and saw a black and white in the middle of the street facing north with a probationary officer taking cover on the right front fender of the cruiser. His partner was lying down behind him. I asked the officer to go to a tactical frequency and to my astonishment, I was talking to the senior officer! He told me that the person lying down on the street was a female shooting victim. The senior officer had taken a position of advantage in the home directly north of the house where the victim had been shot. A neighbor had called communications, mistakenly saying the female victim was an officer. According to the rookie officer, the woman was still alive.

Just then the senior officer reported a shot being fired from within the house where the female victim has escaped. The officer reported a young man, bound and gagged, had been pushed out of the back door. He fell motionless onto the driveway. It was later discovered the young man was the son of the female victim.  Both had been shot by the woman’s estranged boyfriend.

night time shooting policeAdditional units began to arrive and we formulated a rescue plan. As I was instructing the officers what to do I noticed that a lieutenant and a senior sergeant were observing the preparations. I motioned for them to join the group. The lieutenant said, “You’ve got it.”

I had the officers who were not on the rescue team spread their bullet proof vests on the rescue vehicle that would afford the rescue team some protection. The vests were affixed to the cruiser with duct tape. After all, this was 1991 before armored doors.

Five officers were to deploy in the rescue vehicle, one was to exit prior to the vehicle entering the drive way. His job was to assist the probationary officer placing the female victim into the cruiser and proceeding north on Norton and out of harm’s way. The four remaining officers were to proceed into the driveway, two were to rescue the male victim and the other two would cover the officers rescuing the male victim.

LAPD_helo.jpgI asked the pilot in the overhead air unit that when she observed the unit enter the driveway, to flatten the pitch of her rotor. Being a helicopter pilot, I know that this creates a sound similar to a machine gun going off—a great distraction.

Everything went as planned and the officers were able to secure the male victim in the cruiser and safely leave the house. The senior officer, still in his position of advantage, heard a single shot shortly after the officers left.

Now at the scene, SWAT made entry and found the suspect dead from a self-inflicted wound. Both victims survived their wounds.

Now came the hard part. Not only reports, a law enforcement necessity, but those brave officers needed to be awarded for their bravery. I met with the divisional and patrol captains and we discussed the writing of the awards document. I made it perfectly clear that all officers involved were to receive the awards and citations commensurate to their involvement. I told both captains that my involvement was as the scene supervisor and nothing else. I told them that anything higher than a commendation for my involvement would have diminished the bravery of those five young officers. I sent them into harm’s way and they never hesitated. They never questioned my decisions, they were flawless, and they were the best the department had to offer.

All five received their well-deserved medals.




Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Code-7: Absolutely the (next to) last one

By Hal Collier, LAPD retired

Ok, this is the absolutely (next tofrom Thonie: there will be one more next Sunday 4/24/2016) last Ramblings on Code-7. Some of you must think that all I did for thirty-five years was eat. Actually a lot of times cops miss Code-7 due to an arrest, a busy night, or no other police cars available to cover while you ate.

Then was something called a Tactical Alert. A Tactical Alert was called when a major incident occurred anywhere in the large city of Los Angeles. Tactical Alert means no one eats and the waitresses throughout the city get stiffed on our quarter tips. Sometimes an incident has occurred in the Harbor, LAPD Communications Watch Commander will broadcast a city-wide Tactical alert. Now, if I drive up to Mount Lee just above the Hollywood Sign I can see the harbor but there’s little chance I’ll be sent there. Later, they would scale the Tactical Alert down to a bureau. It still means that you’re likely to eat Code-7 off the hood of your car.

Ok a last code-7 interruption (we already discussed this–it’s not the last).

When I moved to day watch, the locations to eat Code-7 multiplied by 800%. I liked a little Italian place, “Stephano’s.” It was family owned and run plus they had the best lasagna and garlic bread you ever tasted. If you weren’t very hungry they served a baby pizza. So one beautiful day, I’m dining at Stephano’s with my former partner, Lindy, and her future husband, Lou. He’s a LAFD firemen but I’m not prejudiced. I’ve eaten with the homeless if you remember a previous code-7 Ramblings.

So we’re sitting in a booth with a view of Vine Street. Just as we’re being served our lunch, Lou yells, “Look, a perpetrator.”

A what?

Who calls them perpetrators?

We look out the window and see a guy fleeing from the Pavilion’s Market across the street. Someone is chasing him. Now I might have thought they were just out for a midday jog but Lou said it loud enough that the rest of the restaurant patrons are now looking at us. Crap, keep my food warm. My partner and I run out to our car and catch up to the suspect—see? A suspect. I never caught a perpetrator in my entire career. He had been shoplifting when the security guard tried to arrest him. We had another police car meet us and take the suspect to the station while we returned to Stephano’s and finished our meal. We were then tied up with the shoplifter for the rest of the watch but at least we had full stomachs.


Sometime later the LAPD equipped their officers with handheld radios. They were carried on your gun belt which was already overloaded. There were advantages and disadvantages. The advantage was you were always within sound of Communications. The disadvantage was you were always within the sound of Communications! If you were eating and an, “Officer Needs Help” call comes out, you dropped your fork and responded. Later you had to go back and pay for the meal you didn’t eat. If you were still eating and a little over your allotted Code-7 time, the communications dispatcher would ask you if you were clear. That usually meant they had a call for you.


Read the absolutely and for real last Code-7 post next week.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, “Officer Needs Help”


Ramblings, “Officer Needs Help”

February 7, 2016


by Hal Collier, LAPD, retired


There is nothing that scares a cop more than hearing, “Officer needs help!” If you can hear the almost panic and fear in their voice it will send your adrenalin pumps into high gear! It will send shivers down your spine and suck the air out of your lungs. The only thing worse is when what follows the help call is with, “Shots fired, Officer Down!”

“Officer Down” means an officer has been hurt or shot.  You might not even recognize the voice, even if it’s a close friend. It doesn’t really matter. You’re about to break every department rule and state law regarding safe driving to get there.


Believe it or not, there’s a protocol for requests on the police radio. This is based on LAPD radio procedures and I’m sure other departments have different standards. I never understood the 10 code used by many departments, but math was my weakest subject in school.  We’ll start with the lowest in priority, “Officer requests a backup.”


To most cops this still means an officer has stumbled into something that they can’t handle alone. It’s not an emergency, yet, but may become one soon. In my early days on the LAPD when an officer responded to a burglar alarm at a business or a residence and found a break in, they would request a “Back Up.” The only trouble with requesting a backup was you had the whole division risking life and limb to get to your location because it beat the hell out of telling some Woodstock veteran to turn down his stereo. It was often a contest to see who got there first.



What you really needed was one unit to secure the perimeter while you searched the premises. We later modified our procedure to “Requesting one unit for a backup on a burglar alarm.” If it was a slow night you still got the whole division and both sergeants. You probably hoped the sergeants were sleeping or busy. They can sometimes screw up the simplest incident.


Ok, foot pursuits were automatic, “Officer Requests Assistance.” Foot pursuits were dangerous, especially if you can outrun your partner. I got in more than my share of foot pursuits. I’m guessing that a suspect would look at me and think, I can out run this old fart. Fact, I wasn’t fast but I could run forever. I didn’t lose a foot pursuit for the first eight years I was on the job. Foot pursuits can be dangerous. You also run the risk of a suspect turning a corner and waiting to ambush you. A lot of police shootings occurred during a foot pursuit.


I once requested assistance and the dispatcher must have thought I was a rookie. She calmly told me to slow down, take a deep breath and give my location. I advised her that I was running after an armed suspect on foot and I was taking all the air in I could. Bye the way I caught him. The dispatcher later called my Watch Commander and apologized.


Ok, let’s get to “Help Calls,” the grandfather of all requests! I’ll admit that in my thirty-five years of patrol, I broadcast a lot of back up and assistances calls, but I only put out one “Help Call.”

I was known as a mellow officer who had a calm demeanor and could defuse any situation. At least that’s what my rating reports said. Of course, I spent my days off mowing the rating supervisor’s lawn.


It’s the late 70’s and I’m driving westbound on Sunset Boulevard and I just passed La Brea. It’s about 02:30, that’s 2:30 AM for our non-police friends. The bars have closed and the prostitutes are making more money than I will for the next two weeks. Theirs is tax free and no contribution to a 401 or pension fund. I hear a loud boom and suddenly jump up in my seat. I recognize the sound as a gunshot of a large caliber. My eyes scan the streets for the location of the gunshot. I see citizens running and even the prostitutes are fleeing. It takes a lot to scare a veteran whore. I notice that they are all running in an outward circle from a motel on the south side of Sunset.


I slow the car trying to spot where the shot came from. My probationer next to me is yelling, “I don’t see him.”  Hell, I don’t see him either. I suddenly see a young adult run from the motel with a shotgun in his hands. Ok, half the problem solved. I angle the car toward the curb and suspect. I broadcast “Officer Needs Help Sunset west of La Brea.”  My partner and I both swing open our car doors and crouch behind the doors for protection.

Suddenly the car starts to roll forward. Shit, I left the car in drive, a rookie mistake. I stand and reach in with my right leg and push on the brake. I’m half in the car and half out. I have moved my finger from the gun frame to the trigger. I’m just a few pounds of trigger pull from having an officer involved shooting. I tell the suspect to halt and drop the gun, or something similar; maybe in less proper police vernacular. I hear my probationer rack a round in our Ithaca shotgun, always an attention getter.


For a fraction of a second the suspect and I make eye contact. The moment of truth!


Oh, somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright. The band is playing and hearts are light. When the sun rises it will be a nice sunny day, mild temperatures and kids will dance and play on the playgrounds. Ok, just kidding. Humor is the only way cops avoid heavy medication and one of those jackets with the long sleeves that buckle at the wrists.



I repeat my order to drop the gun. I think my voice squeaked that time. Our suspect drops the shotgun and drives headfirst into the grass with his arms outstretched. We will all live to see the sun rise in a few hours. The professional that I am, I reach in and put my police car in park. We approach the suspect and handcuff him. My partner and I breathe for the first time in minutes. It will take some time before the adrenalin leaves our body.


Epilogue:  Our suspect had come to Hollywood to have sex with a prostitute. The fact that that he brought a shotgun with him is suspicious. As is what usually happens in Hollywood, the prostitute had ripped him off. He retrieves his shotgun and returns to the motel room. The prostitute has fled so he goes to the motel office—he’s going to get his money back from someone. The motel clerk slams the office door on him. Our suspect fires a round at the motel office door, striking the wall.

That’s where we come in. As the saying goes, he came to Hollywood to get screwed and he got screwed. He was booked for attempt murder but we’re all alive.

After completing the arrest report, we booked the suspect and the shotgun and headed home. We have missed breakfast and lunch. We have to be back at work in six hours. Maybe then we’ll grab a chili dog at Pink’s on La Brea—we just won’t drive down Sunset.






Go to for Hal Collier’s latest post on the call all cops dread.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, What Scares Cops?, part 2

By Hal Collier LAPD, Retired

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

Ok, so what does scare a knight in armor?  Be prepared to be shocked. 


First and foremost, the number one thing that scares a cop is that radio call, “Go to the Watch Commander.” Really, how bad can that be? You’ve spend half a shift doing everything right—well, maybe mostly right. You and your partner immediately go over all the radio calls and traffic stops you made that night. Did we piss off some tax paying citizen and he’s making a complaint? Did the Watch Commander discover that I missed court to go on that three day water skiing trip? Whatever, it can’t be good.


When I was the Watch Commander I would monitor the patrol units to see who was working and who was goofing off. If I had a simple request for the transportation of an arrestee to court or the downtown jail for medical treatment, I would get on the radio, and in my best “oh shit” voice tell the goof-off unit to come to the Watch Commander immediately. The officers would come into the watch commander’s office with their tails between their legs just like your dog did the last time he got into the trash. I enjoyed that—they weren’t doing anything productive anyway.


So what else scares cops? You handle a call with a drunk or drug crazed individual and you end up in a fight for your life. These fights are never pretty. You win the fight and go home. The next day you discover someone filmed the fight and it’s all over the news and YouTube. You watch the news broadcast and discover the media has edited the fight and only shows you beating the guy who just seconds earlier tried to take away your gun. They show the clip over and over again. Even you begin to think you over reacted.


Soon a maelstrom of vocal people are calling for an investigation including the President of the United States. Later a jury sees the entire video and acquits you. But it’s too late, you have been tried and convicted by the media. Your career is over. I’ve seen cops arrested then later acquitted when all the facts were presented. Rodney King happened over twenty-four years ago and is still brought up regularly. This is happening all across the United States. That scares a cop. These types of incidents are usually followed by a large lawsuit filed against you, the city you work for, and the Chief of Police. I’ve seen police officers homestead their homes so they don’t lose them in the lawsuit.


“Officer Needs Help” calls scare a cop.  In the 70’s some LAPD car radios had what we called cheaters. A cheater was a second radio that allowed everyone to hear an officers broadcast. This allowed an officer to know what other officers were doing and where they were doing it. The main point was you could hear the officer’s voice inflection. Was he excited or calm?  Ok, the scary part—the cheater radio suddenly blasts out “Officer needs Help.” The officer is screaming into the microphone. Your adrenaline has jumped so high you can hardly breathe. It doesn’t matter how close or how far you are from this officer you’re going to break all department rules to go to his aid. If the officer adds, “Shots Fired or Officer Down” to his broadcast, you’re glad you wore your ballistic vest and you unlock the shotgun. Are you scared? Bet your ass you are! Scared for the officer, scared for his wife and family. It may take hours for the adrenaline to leave your body.


Here’s another one that scares cops. You’re on a day off or just off hours. You’re relaxing in your living room watching the ball game. They break into the game to announce, “Breaking News.” An LAPD officer has been shot in the division where you work. Of course it could be any division, we move around in LAPD. They don’t have much information and they hopefully don’t give out the officer’s name. So you sit there and rack your brain, who’s working today and what are my partner’s days off? Yea, you could call the station and try to get some information but you know their busy, so you just wait. You just wait and listen to the news men report what they don’t know. That scares you.


Even after they report the officer’s name, and if you don’t know him/her, you’re still scared. Is he or she married and a father or mother. How old are the children? It scares you because you know that could be you someday.


You finally retire and figure nothing is going to scare you anymore. Wait, your son or daughter has decided to follow you into the noble profession of police work. You’re proud but you know the dangers. Suddenly all the above fears come rushing back only with a few new ones. Now you know what your spouse went through all those years. A late night phone call or knock at the door will send chills up your spine. Ok, the phone call was a drunk asking if this is Madam Whoopee’s all night massage parlor, but try getting back to sleep after that. The knock on the door is never good, especially if the people on your front porch are wearing uniforms.


Ok, now you know some of the things that scare cops and I’ll bet I missed a few. Give me your fears and I’ll add them to my list.  Oh by the way some cops really are afraid of snakes.       


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, What scares cops? 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.

From the time you’re born, all of us have fears. Some are afraid of spiders, snakes, heights, claustrophobia and clowns. A lot fear speaking in public. I think we all had those dreams of being naked in public. Hell, I still have those. Stay out of my dreams if you want to sleep. Most of us outgrew those fears and moved on to bigger fears. Is the power out or did I forget to pay the Water and Power bill, when is our anniversary? What’s this string tried around my finger for?


We all have those things that scare us, but let’s talk about what scares cops. Most cops love their job but want to go home every day to their family and loved ones, even if that’s a dog or cat. They think safety and might use the best taught tactics, but there’s one thing that cancels out all your fears. That’s adrenalin. It’s more powerful than any drug sold on a street corner.


Cops will run to the sound of gun fire—not away like most people. I’ve seen cops leave a perfectly safe place, behind good cover as we say, to a danger area, just to stop a threat to others. I was once shot at—in a police parking lot no less! Was I scared—no, I was pissed off. How dare some @##$# shoot at me at my house! I’ve seen cops race to a scene of a “shooting in progress call” to be there first. Did you ever see the video of the North Hollywood Bank shootout? Cops were everywhere trying to stop the bad guys. SWAT officers showed up in their workout clothes.


Burning buildings!  Cops will run into burning buildings to save people they don’t know—sometimes when there’s no one to save. Unlike firemen who have fire protective clothing, cops will still enter a burning building in short sleeve blue wool uniforms. Cops have done this all the time. Were they scared? No, they didn’t think about their own safety, just protecting the innocent. I’ve been in a few fires and been treated for smoke inhalation twice. Scared? No, I just didn’t have time to be scared or my intelligence is so low that I don’t know enough to be afraid.


America is fascinated with car chases on TV. With the police helicopter lighting up the bad guy’s vehicle, the news copters can follow and get free footage of a real live police chase. They even have a TV show with nothing but cop car chases. Some of these chases are hair raising and dangerous to not only the cops and the car they’re chasing but to any innocent citizen driving on the streets. After thirty-five years, I’ve been in quite a few pursuits. Was I scared? No, just angry that someone would think they could out run me. 


Cops can be exposed to life threatening diseases on a daily basis, such as AIDS and Hepatitis. A simple prick on the finger from a dirty syringe in a hype’s pocket or a fight with a blood-soaked suspect. I was once tested for AIDS after giving CPR to a SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) baby. I wasn’t scared but it was worrisome for six weeks until the results came back clear.


Ok, so what does scare a knight in armor?  Be prepared to be shocked. 

Find out what really scares cops next week, Sunday May 16th for part 2.

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