More Street Stories

Guest Post: Uniforms on Halloween

By Belinda Riehl
October 31, 2018

Halloween houseNot in costume or with satchels to Trick or Treat at 10 o’clock in the morning, the first uniformed officer rang our doorbell. We saw him on the porch through the dining room window. A younger, leaner uniformed officer stood in an “at ease” but ready position down three steps six feet behind the first officer on the walkway with his right thumb tucked in his uniform pants pocket just below his holstered weapon.

My husband, Danny, opened the front door. With a smile and a strong but friendly voice, he said, “What brings this show of force to my door?”

“We’re looking for Shannon,” the first officer said with a soft smile, his right arm bent at the elbow and the heel of his right hand casually resting on the butt of his holstered gun.

In Danny’s usual way, he didn’t offer what he knew about Shannon, the former tenant who’d lived in this house we’d recently rented.

“What crime did she commit?” His habit of answering a question with a question wasn’t muted by police officers at his door.

“We got a call from her family in Oregon.”

“This is a lot of manpower for a welfare check. I was a police officer for thirty-eight years. Good deployment of personnel, though,” Danny said as he looked beyond the front yard to the third uniformed officer on the sidewalk. There were no police cars in sight.

“Oh, you’re from L.A.?” a fairly obvious question given that Danny was wearing his blue LA Dodger cap. “What department?”

cop and policewoman“LAPD for twenty-seven years, then the L.A.D.A.’s office for another eleven. You probably know my son; he’s a Deputy D.A. here.” They exchanged names and laughs. The third officer from the front sidewalk moved up onto the front yard to hear the light-hearted conversation about attorneys and prosecutors. The officer with the sergeant stripes, the most experienced officer on the scene, appeared from a place of cover between our two parked cars in the driveway.

“You know why they bury attorneys eight feet down instead of six?” the first officer asked. “Because deep down they have a good heart.” They all laughed.

The young officer closest to the first officer casually rested his forearm on his holstered gun. Clearly, they weren’t going to need to deploy tactical force.

In my full-length robe and uncombed hair, I made myself more visible to the officer at the door, still behind Danny as he took up most of the space at the wide-open doorway. “We just moved in last week,” I said. Danny stepped aside slightly. “Shannon lived here before us. She told our landlady she was moving to Oregon where she’d bought property.”

“That fits what we know,” said the first officer. “We got a call from her family in Oregon that she never arrived.

“She also had a business here in town,” Danny said.

“We checked there too,” but offered no further information.

“I’d be happy to give you our landlady’s name and number,” I said. “She might have a phone number or email address, but I know she didn’t leave a forwarding address because we’re still getting her mail.”

“Thanks. That could be helpful,” the officer said.

While I stepped away to write down our landlady’s information, the two officers facing each other at the door continued their police banter. Danny, the confident, retired, equally strong dog had sniffed the butt of the confident, younger, seemingly capable first officer who’d gingerly sniffed Danny’s butt. The two watchdogs meant each other no harm and their tails wagged as they shook hands.

I handed the officer my note and said, “I hope she’s okay.” I didn’t step too far into the doorway. No need for the whole neighborhood to know I was still in my robe at ten in the morning.

“Thanks for the information,” he said.

Everyone said, “Have a nice day.”

After he closed the door, Danny said, “They’re looking for Shannon for something else.”

“What makes you think so?” I often accuse him of being cynical. Sometimes a bad driver is just a bad driver and not trying to piss him off; but, sometimes his suspicious nature is warranted. His career experience and wisdom have served him well.

“First, there’s no way they send a sergeant, and three officers to do a welfare check and park half a block away. The sergeant between our cars, the third officer a distance from the house on the sidewalk, another uniform behind the guy at the door—that’s pretty tactical deployment for a missing person. It was more in line with looking for a violent offender.”

“I heard the guy on the sidewalk say it was a training day when you said this is a lot of manpower.”

“I was going to tell the training officer he was standing too close to the door,” Danny said with his typical wide grin.

“What do you think? She left town with too much debt?”

“By the way she left this house and yard in such a mess, it’s hard to believe she could run a business. Looked to me like she left pretty quickly. I’m guessing check fraud or grand theft. Maybe a warrant. Even the neighbors said her tweaker boyfriend had brought her down. I don’t know why the police are looking for her, but I have a feeling she doesn’t want to be found. No forwarding address. Didn’t arrive where she said she was going. Family in Oregon looking for her. If the boyfriend is looking for her, that’s where he’d look too. Who knows?”

“They sure didn’t offer any information,” I said.

“I don’t usually tell people I’m a retired cop, but I thought they’d offer a little quid pro quo.”

“They definitely stayed tight-lipped,” I said.

“Did you hear what they said when the neighbor across the street asked what was going on when they were leaving?”

“No, but I’ll bet he was a little disturbed by his new neighbors bringing the police to his neighborhood,” I said. “What’d the police say?”

“One of the officers answered, ‘Somebody stole a baby stroller.’”

“Do they teach that in the police academy, how to never give a straight answer and redirect the conversation?”

Danny chuckled and said, “You tell ‘em what they want to hear. Don’t leave ‘em scared. They don’t need to know the truth. They might try to help and get themselves hurt.”

“I’d like to have known the truth,” I said.

“Need-to-know basis, Sweetheart…”

Belinda Riehl
Associate Editor 2018 Redwood Writers anthology Redemption–Stories from the Edge; author of “Security at the Inn,” a fictional story told in 2020 after surviving the 2017 Sonoma County Wildfires included in Redemption; author of “Lighter Load,” a 100-word poem about the loss of her beloved dog in RW 2018 poetry anthology Phoenix–Out of Silence, and then…; author of “Wallet Karma,” a true story published in Sonoma Seniors Today, January 2018 issue,; author of “Speak in Ink,” a poem published in online magazine,; winner of Redwood Writers 2015 Pullet Surprise for exceptional volunteer service to Sonoma County writers.
Please visit my blog: to read Occasional Musings by this writer.

The Call Box

The Call Box: The Strange Case of the Poisoned Mushrooms

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

lapd callboxLast year I told you of my best friend and former partner, Richard L. Sullivan 

Aka: Sully. My association with him covered many years and countless mini-adventures, not only with other coppers and the general public but mostly our adversaries. 

 When he and Ed Lutes out-conned the cons trying to sell a very expensive painting, one of the suspects complained to me that Sully f**ked with his head. “Not a complaint,” I replied, “but a compliment.”

 That said, he is to receive credit or blame for my sometimes warped behavior   (see Marilyn Monroe funeral 4/12/17).

What follows can only be described as an act committed by me in a moment of weakness. Not done in a mean-spirited manner but only because I had lost control so to speak, and, well, “the devil made me do it.”



    The Strange Case of the Poisoned Mushrooms


dinner partyMany years after retirement, I was at a dinner party seated across from a young woman probably mid/late 30’s and a psychologist. I’m looking forward to some interesting conversation. Seated to her left is her male companion, a federal agent with the “ATF” (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms), with possibly 2-3 years on the job. He is seated directly across from my wife, Susan who is on my right.

The psychologist was employed by the Justice Department and was charged with pre-sentence interviews of white collar defendants.

No names of course, but she has been regaling us with a tale of a recent interviewee and what a terrible life he had endured; how she besieged the court to take this into consideration at time of sentence and on and on and on.

She turned out to be a very nice person but listening to her, she sounded so gullible, my head hurt. At that moment I could feel my internal battle with the devil beginning.

And I was losing. 

I interrupted finally with, “I can certainly identify with your client, however the tragedies he has suffered pale compared to mine. Many years ago, I lost my first wife when she ate poisoned mushrooms.”

Among other things, every officer is a people watcher and a student of “body language.” I watched them both carefully. She was, for the moment at a loss for words. She sat up slightly and mumbled some sort of, “I’m so sorry.” Mr. ATF leaned forward as he was interested in what I had to say. I waited a long moment for affect and continued. “That’s not all. A few years later I lost wife number two the very same way—poisoned mushrooms.

Now having told this tale before, I knew this is where it got really interesting. 

Her mouth became an ‘o’ as she visibly leaned back putting as much distance as possible between us. She did not speak.  Mr. ATF, however, leaned in further and I could almost read his mind as he wondered if his handcuffs were in the car. 

woman falling down stairsBefore she could recover I hit her with the clincher. “And wife number three died of a broken neck when she fell down the stairs.” At this point, the psychologist was losing color and had the deer in headlights look.

I leaned in to really sell it. Mr. ATF, on the other hand, grinned and sat back. She was still semi-frozen when my wife (who is as good a straight man as I could wish) for asked sweetly, “Aren’t you going to ask him how that happened?”    …….a tremulous “how?”

I answered, “Because she wouldn’t eat the g*d damned mushrooms.”

I apologized and asked her if she thought any of her “clients” ever lied to her. 

I think she got the message…

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: A Weird Co-worker

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Did you ever have a co-worker who was just weird? No matter how hard you tried, you just couldn’t find a common ground. The individual I’m about to describe was that type of officer. I’ll call him Jeff. I don’t think that I ever worked a patrol shift with Jeff but I was around him enough to know he was different. Jeff didn’t get along with anyone he worked with. You think spending Thanksgiving dinner at your in-laws is a long day; try spending eight hours in a police car with Jeff! He was so difficult that officers volunteered to work the desk or jail to avoid spending time with him.

night ops with the copsEvery so often a police division will loan an officer to another division for a special assignment. If that loan becomes a permanent transfer, they must transfer another officer back. That’s were Jeff comes in. Rampart Division owed us an officer and, just like Fidel Castro, they didn’t give us the cream of the crop. In fact, they gave us Jeff. Now, the short time Jeff was assigned to Hollywood he made quite a reputation for himself. No one wanted to work with Jeff.

I recall two incidents where Jeff called in sick for work. One day, Jeff said he was stung by a bee and couldn’t report for work. Maybe Jeff was allergic to bees. Ok, that’s plausible but the next day at work Jeff couldn’t remember where he was stung. Another time he called in sick saying that he was getting married. Short romance was our guess and we were dying to see who would marry him. Sure enough—Jeff showed up at work the next day still single. Some guessed that Jeff’s bride deflated!

Well as luck would have it we owed an officer to Northeast Division and guess who was at the top of our list? That was the good news. The bad news was that I lived in Northeast Division. Jeff would be protecting me from crime at my house.  I figured that there was slim chance that I’d ever run into Jeff but I was wrong.  Well not exactly. My wife is a good driver and has only gotten one ticket in her entire time driving. Yes, you guessed right, Jeff gave it to her.

cop car in rear viewJeff stopped my wife for speeding. Actually, she was going five mph over the posted speed limit. Now, in my 35 year career I’ve stopped about a dozen police officers for traffic violations. I never wrote one a ticket; the same for firemen. You called it professional courtesy. I have been stopped three times, once in Texas, and never had a ticket. Well my wife mentions my name to Jeff. 

Jeff says, “Oh yea. I know Hal.” Jeff wrote her a ticket. We paid the ticket without complaint.

Some nights when I have trouble sleeping, I think of Jeff. I wonder if he’s still a cop, did he ever get married, or just maybe one of those bees actually stung him! 




More Street Stories

Why I Wear the Badge – #WhyIWeartheBadge

I stumbled across this post today. As this is the end of National Police Week, I will post Wednesday anyway. I think this is a great idea: individual officers on camera telling America why they chose this job. It’s sentimental, humorous and inspirational, depending who you click on. It will take some time, but I think it’s well worth it.


By: Tim Burrows

Article posted in the International Association of Chiefs of Police online magazine. Links are posted at end of article.

Tim Burrows is a recently retired sergeant with 25 years of law enforcement experience.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Why I Wear The Badge

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation that designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week May 15th falls in as Police Week.

20 years later, the Memorial Service in Washington D.C. began.  The memorial provides a place for the families, co-workers and grateful citizens to gather and pay tribute to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for their communities.

Police Week is celebrated in many different ways by both law enforcement agencies and their communities. Those communities are no longer just bound by geographical points on a map or neighborhoods. Virtual communities also celebrate in the online world and Police Week celebrations can happen there just as easily.

Showcasing your agency, it’s members and the great work that is done is easy and gives more people greater access to your people and your commitment through pictures, videos, words and gestures.

This year the [International Association of Chiefs of Police] IACP is spearheading an initiative that will bring out the best in policing;


I believe this idea is excellent and it’s a campaign where the benefits far outweigh the perceived risks.

Some agencies may be shy in taking part given how some hashtags have been hi-jacked over the years and used for a purpose to show brands or agencies in a negative light. Could this happen with “Why I wear the badge?” Absolutely. Should that stop agencies from taking part? Absolutely NOT!

This is way more than just a hashtag. This is about the core essence of why your men and women put their uniforms on each and every day. Why they decided to become police officers and what it means to them to have the privilege to serve their communities and protect all members of society.

This is a give back opportunity to show the relatable side of your officers and their agencies. We say regularly that social and digital media provides an opportunity to show the ‘human side’ of policing, so show it and tell your community, “Why I wear the badge.”

‘We are people in a uniform’.

Policing is truly at a crossroads with the public. The ‘haters’ are becoming more vocal and they are drawing on the events that put the industry in a bad light. Many people who are on that bandwagon are being swayed in their opinions by a lack of argument and counter information to the national narrative.

#WhyIWearTheBadge provides the opportunity to add to the conversation and sway the moderates and more importantly show everyone the commitment to policing by highlighting where that commitment comes from…a duty of service to others.

This is not an initiative to ask for community love. It’s an initiative to give the community love. 

It’s an opportunity to tell the community the story behind the dedication to service. Why I wear the badge is all about giving to the public that you all serve.

Joining in this initiative and encouraging your officers and your agency to take part is the kind of leadership that can go far in your community in these tough times. Indifference and a lack of commitment to things that really matter is killing this country…what an awesome opportunity to take a stand and tell your community that you are celebrating Police Week 2015 by telling them,  “Why I wear the badge!”

“The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” ~ Plato

I can’t wait to see and share the different views and reasons all of you come up with on #WhyIWearTheBadge.

– See more at:

Also look at the IACP website: Why I Wear the Badge and the Facebook page: #Why I Wear the Badge

More Street Stories

Critical Incident Stress Management Interventions Help Heal First Responders

This is an excellent overview of the trauma emergency workers must endure by the nature of their work. There’s a price for this state of readiness and execution-read to find out the personal cost and the expense of the agency and community.


Critical Incident Stress Management Interventions Help Heal First Responders
March 18, 2015
By Dr. Chuck Russo, American Military University, and Carrie Kahn Courtney

First responders are trained to utilize tactical strategies in crisis situations so they can quickly protect lives and property. However, high-crisis incidents can overwhelm normal coping mechanisms and trigger traumatic-stress disorders for first responders.
Officer-involved shootings, line-of-duty deaths and injuries, child victims, employee suicide, and mass-casualty incidents are all events that can trigger traumatic-stress disorders for first responders. Common effects of traumatic stress include:
• concentration impairment
• eating and sleeping disturbances
• psychosomatic symptomology
• addictions
• depression
• irritability
• avoidant behaviors
• changes in libido
• increased personal and professional conflict

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the many mental-health disorders associated with traumatic stress. Such disorders often hinder a first responders’ ability to return to a pre-event “normal” status.

[Related article: Sandy Hook, Aurora Leaders Share Commonalities of Responding to Mass Casualty Events]

If post-traumatic stress is not addressed, it can often lead to faulty decision making, increased disciplinary problems, tardiness, on-the-job accidents, citizen complaints, and officer turnover.

While post-traumatic stress is the normal reaction to an abnormal event, PTSD does not have to occur. If post-traumatic stress is left unchecked, unaddressed, and untreated the results can often lead to PTSD.

Help First Responders with CISM Interventions

Critical incident stress management (CISM) is a short-term, psychological first-aid intervention strategy that can help mitigate long-term mental health issues for first responders.
CISM interventions encourage individuals to emote the impact of the cognitive, emotional, and psychological symptoms that manifest as a direct result of exposure to traumatic stress, especially repetitive traumatic stress. CISM aims to return those involved to a pre-event “normal” status quicker than if left to their own devices and deter PTSD.

Impacts of Traumatic Stress on an Agency

Besides taking a toll on the individual, traumatic stress has an impact on the agency. The effects of traumatic stress on organizations often include:
• communication breakdowns
• decreased morale
• deteriorating group cohesiveness
• increased absenteeism
• increased healthcare costs including increased worker’s compensation and disability claims
• decreased ability to retain effective personnel
• decreased employee efficiency and productivity
These financial and morale costs can cause long-term damage to an agency’s community support, resource budget, and recruiting opportunities.
It is important that agencies address the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms associated with traumatic stress by implementing CISM interventions. Such implementation often includes one-on-one sessions, debriefings, and defusing sessions that are co-facilitated by mental health professionals and peers to combat traumatic stress. Agencies need to take proactive steps to help officers heal and recover from traumatic-stress incidents.

About the Authors:

Dr. Chuck Russo is the Program Director of Criminal Justice at American Military University (AMU). He began his career in law enforcement in 1987 in central Florida and was involved all areas of patrol, training, special operations and investigations before retiring from law enforcement in 2013. Dr. Russo continues to design and instruct courses, as well as act as a consultant for education, government and industry throughout the United States and the Middle East. His recent research and presentations focus on emerging technology and law enforcement applications, in addition to post-traumatic stress and online learning.

Carrie Kahn Courtney, RCSWI, wears many hats as a grant writer, social worker, disaster behavioral health specialist for adults and children, addictions professional, cadre trainer for the Disaster Technical Assistance Center, Vice President of Volusia Interfaith Networking in Disaster,Outgoing Chair for the Mental Health Association of East Central Florida, and as an Advanced Responder for the Florida Crisis Consortium.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, The Art of Kicking Doors

By Hal Collier, LAPD, Retired

Hal is a thirty-five year veteran of LAPD. We are pleased he is sharing his stories with us.

Be sure to click on the links included for some funny illustrations of Hal’s techniques.
To the best of my limited knowledge, what I’m about to describe is not taught in any police academy. That is the art of kicking doors. Admit it, you can’t watch a cop show without the star kicking open a door at least once. It amazes me how easy it looks, sometimes they just lean on the door with a shoulder. Please, all you’ll do is hurt your shoulder.

academy trainingWhen I went through the Los Angeles Police Academy, they taught me when to legally kick a door without violating some citizen’s civil rights, but not how! My initial experience was watching my partner kick in a door on my first day out of the academy. The door flew open and we raced in to save an attempted suicide victim.

I learned my first valuable lesson watching cartoons. That’s right. The Big Bad Wolf huffed and puffed and blew down the house of straw and wood but couldn’t blow down the house of brick. I know what you’re thinking: Collier is getting fitted for one of those long sleeve shirts with the buckles on the cuffs. No, what I learned is what door you can kick in and what doors you’ll just hurt you.

I learned the hard way. Let’s start with the door itself. Is it a solid wood door or hollow core? Is the frame also wood and how many locks does it have? I know—who has the time to analyze the structural integrity of a door? Well, you had better or you’ll waste your time and energy.

Smart cops will never try to kick a metal door with a metal frame unless you have a big red “S” on your chest. You’ll just pull a hamstring and look foolish. I once had a welfare check on a family in an apartment building. The police had been out there twice but couldn’t get in. The manager didn’t have a key so we finally called the fire department. The fire department had to cut the metal door and frame open. It was a murder suicide including the three young children. I’ll never get over that one.

My partner Gary and I once had a welfare check call on an elderly woman high up in the Hollywood Hills. She hadn’t been seen in days. It was an older house built with solid oak wood doors and frames. We knocked on the doors and then began looking in all the windows. We found a window where we could see the woman lying on the floor. OK, we’ll kick the door and rescue the woman.

As I said the house was well-built and we kicked that door for fifteen minutes. First one kicked, then both of us at the same time. It almost got comical—this poor lady laying of the floor and Gary and I saying, “Ready 1, 2 ,3, kick, 1,2,3, kick.” We finally got in and discovered that her dog was protecting her. You’ll never see that on prime time TV. We finally rescued her and the dog.

Hollow core doors? They are usually interior doors, like bedroom or bathroom doors, but not always. This incident happened in the early 70’s. Hollywood cops got a “Rape in Progress” call. We all arrived and the person reporting (PR) said the girl next door is yelling for help. We knock and the woman screams, “Help Me”

My partner, Jim Moody says, “I’ll kick the door.” He steps back and plants a size 10, double E right in the middle of the door. It was a hollow core door so his foot gets stuck. Moody’s standing there on one leg, the other stuck in the middle of the door. We laughed as we rushed by and rescued the woman, leaving Moody outside.

That brings up where to kick a door. You kick next to the dead bolt lock. That’s where the door will burst open. Be careful not to hit the door knob. That is worth at least a sprained or worse, a broken ankle. Both will give you desk duty, a curse among patrol cops. A cop’s worst nightmare is a 2 inch deadbolt. It may take 3 or 4 kicks before the door frame gives way. If you’re securing your own house, use 2 inch deadbolts, even the cops have trouble getting in. Bad if you’re the one laying on the floor!!!
Another rookie mistake is not checking to see if the door is locked before you kick it open. Don’t laugh—it happens. I once watched an officer kick a door twice before someone realized it was unlocked.

Kicking doors takes practice and a strong leg, but it’s usually the smallest officer who pushes his way to the front and proclaims, “I’ll kick it.” I usually let them try, that’s how they learn. I once had a sergeant who insisted that the mule kick was the best. He would position himself on the floor with his back and butt toward the door. Then he would kick backwards like a mule. It worked for him but I didn’t like being on the floor with my back to the door.

Kicking a door doesn’t always turn out as planned. The department has a term, “Called the wrong Door.” That’s when cops kick the wrong door. I’m sure your wondering how could such highly trained cops make such a mistake? Easy—poor communication, egos, “me first,” and last, poor leadership. We once had an incident high up in the Hollywood Hills at a party where professional gambling was taking place. The sergeant led the charge and kicked the door across the street from the party. The residents were not impressed with their tax dollars at work. The sergeant was transferred to day watch where he could be better supervised. True story

Another time Mike and I were driving around when we see large billows of smoke coming from a four story apartment building. Oh crap, we have to save all those people. We run into the lobby and are met with smoke filled hallways. We start banging on doors and if no answer we kick in doors. After kicking two doors, we run to the fire escape window and suck in some fresh air. The smoke is burning our lungs and eyes. Residents are running into the streets as the fire department arrives. Hell, Mike and I will get a medal for saving all these people.

Guess what? No medal. The smoke was from a trash dumpster behind the apartment building. It was coming in through an open hallway window. I pulled a hamstring and had to get treated for smoke inhalation. Ever been treated for smoke inhalation? They stick a big needle in your wrist and draw blood from an artery not a vein. Arteries are down deep in your arm.
Every once in a while an opportunity comes along to practice kicking a door. I had one such opportunity as a sergeant. A four story apartment building on Argyle was being remodeled and all the tenants were evicted. The construction foreman told me there are squatters in some of the apartments, you can kick any door that’s locked. My eyes light up. I grabbed every rookie that was working that day and had them kick a few doors. I also kicked a half dozen doors myself, it was like a present from the police gods.

Like I said kicking doors is an art only learned after years of experience. There will also be a few wrong doors and failures that come with that experience. One last kick door story. I got a welfare check call for service on another elderly lady. Her porch light has been on day and night for days. Her mail and newspapers are piling up and the neighbors think there a strange smell coming from the house. These are all bad signs. I do my usual check of all doors and windows. Oh crap. I see flies on the windows—another bad sign. I won’t explain what the flies on the windows might indicate. My partner, a smaller officer, wants to kick the door. (See above!) I tell him we’ll call for an ambulance first. The fire department arrives and they said, “We’ll kick the door.” Now everybody loves the fire department and firemen!

The firemen kicks the door we all rush in and guess what? No one’s home. The smell and flies were from a plate of food left on the kitchen counter. A few days later I get a call from an angry elderly lady who wants to know why I kicked her door while she was visiting her sister in Florida. She wants me or the police department to pay to have her door repaired. I told her we didn’t kick the door the fire department did. Here’s the kicker, no pun intended. We kick the wrong door and the police department has to pay to fix the door. The fire department kicks the wrong door they don’t have to pay.
The firemen are still loved!

Ramblings by Hal

Police Burglars, part 3 of 3

This post is part 3 of 3. Oh, except for the epilogue, which will be posted tomorrow. Because the end of this series is so lengthy, I’ve split it in two. For police personnel or civilian, Hal’s take on this scandal is worth reading. He was in the trenches and sadly, is still feeling the betrayal three decades old. –Thonie


By Hal Collier
My first Ramblings on the Hollywood Burglary Scandal dealt with a rash of business burglaries that occurred in Hollywood, most on my shift. My second Ramblings described the arrest of Venegas and Myers and how they were caught.

This Ramblings will describe the aftermath and the effect it had on not only me but the entire LAPD. This might take a few pages so get yourself your favorite beverage and sit back. Again, these are my observations and any resemblance to the opinions of the Los Angeles Police Department is purely coincidental. I’m already getting opinions and theories from other Hollywood officers who have read my first Ramblings.

So here goes:
The next night I go to work wondering what to expect. Venegas and Myers have been relieved of duty and we were told an investigation into their activities had been started.

Nothing earth shattering there. The rumors started and the dumb questions were asked. Is anyone else involved? Cops on other watches, some former partners would ask, “Do you have a Video Recorder for sale.” Not funny after the 50th time. Another officer and close friend asks, “Hal, did you know?” That question hurt. Maybe it was just me but it seemed like I was being watched and under suspicion by everyone. Supervisors showed up at more of my calls. I was beginning to spend a lot of time looking over my shoulder.

After a few weeks things seemed to calm down, then another officer was taken out of the field and assigned to the desk. A week later he was relieved of duty. Then another two officers were assigned to the desk. They also were relieved of duty. The Hollywood desk was getting crowded.

One night I showed up for work and see that I’m working the desk. I ask the Watch Commander if I was I being investigated. He assures me, “No, it’s just that were running short of officers.” All night I’m at the desk and I hear, “Oh, Hal, not you too.”

Some of rumors were beautiful, some we made up ourselves. It was common knowledge that one of the involved parties was cooperating with Internal Affairs Investigators. That’s fine as long as the person is truthful. What if he has a grudge against an officer? It could ruin an officer’s career.

In 1981, there was a cowboy craze throughout America. A lot of cops were wearing cowboy boots, hats and big belt buckles. Yea, I even had them. One day this officer comes up to me at change of watch. He says, “Hal, I hear they searched everyone’s house.” I was tired of the rumors. I said, “Yea, they took all my boots, belt buckles and my favorite cowboy hat.” It spread like wildfire, before I got changed to go home it was all over the station. I still have that cowboy hat!

Another rumor that was going around was that Morning Watch Officers would meet after work and divide the stolen property. We were also rumored to have prostitutes at after work bull sessions. After relieving so many officers, the department had to replace them. Any new officer was immediately believed to be a department plant to get information on us. You need to trust your partner, not be suspicious of him.

Those of us still left, became paranoid. I remember one day I’m on a day off and sitting in my kitchen. My wife yells at me, “Hal, Internal Affairs is across the street and they’re looking at our house.” I look out the window and sure enough that’s a four-door plain police car with two plain suit detectives. I don’t care if they have a search warrant, but I’m wondering did we make the bed this morning. I’ll plead innocent to the kid’s bedroom, I don’t know what’s in there. I watch them for a while and discover they are looking at the house next door which has a for sale sign. They are shopping on duty. Ok, now my wife and I are both ready for those long sleeve coats with the buckles that fasten in the back.

After a while, the interviews started. I.A. would show up at the station and just like the enemy, they attacked at dawn. They would bring in an officer, sit him down and ask him questions about radio calls he had been at months or even a year ago. Who was there, what did you do, what did you see, do you own any of these items? Hell, a year ago? I have my name and address in my underwear. You would think that they would ask all their questions one time and they would be through. Ha, every officer they interviewed gave them some information they didn’t know about and they would have to ask each officer about that incident. As near as I can remember, I had six separate interviews. They always said I wasn’t a suspect but I sure felt like “a person of interest” like they mention in the news.

After a round of interviews, new rumors would fill the station halls. Cops can spread rumors faster than TMZ! Soon, I’d get calls from friends in other divisions who heard the rumors. It became hard to avoid the distractions.

See Just the Facts, Ma’am/Ramblings tomorrow for the epilog to this story.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Complaints, part three


By Hal Collier


IA logo

The following story is true and my last chapter on complaints.  I spent thirty-four+ years on the LAPD and received my share of complaints.  Some I did, most I didn’t do, and a few I was accused of, I wasn’t even there.


Serious complaints were handled by I.A. (Internal Affairs).  They were cops just like the rest of us but some I.A. guys thought of us as the enemy.  Almost any cop who wanted to promote did a tour of I.A.  It looked good in their personnel package.  I don’t know if they were rated on how many complaints they sustained (officer found guilty) but some of their tactics were suspicious. 


I was a young officer and arrived at work one night after a few days off.  In roll call, I discovered I was assigned to the jail.  Officer Gary Hines thought he was working the jail and dressed for jail duty so we swapped assignments and I worked the desk.


Months later, I was told that I’m a witness on a very serious excessive force complaint.  The I.A. cops always told you: “you’re just a witness,” or in today’s language, “a person of interest.” To I.A. it was synonymous with accomplice.


IA interviewSergeant Carlson comes to Hollywood to interview me.  He takes me into the captain’s office and sits me down.  He doesn’t smile and opens his briefcase, inside is a tape recorder.  He shows me a work sheet that shows I’m working the jail on the night in question.  I check my officer’s notebook and I see that I marked jail on said date.


Sergeant Carlson turns on the tape recorder and begins the interview.  The complaint was that Officer Jack choked out an arrestee in the jail during the booking process.


Now, anybody that knows me very well, knows that I have a very good memory.  For the life of me, I can’t remember the incident.  Sergeant Carlson looks at me like I’m the biggest liar in the L.A.P.D.  The old Hollywood Jail wasn’t that big and if anybody got choked out I would have known.


After numerous questions and my denial of any knowledge of the incident, Sergeant Carlson pretends to turn off the tape recorder.  He then asks me, “Is there anything else you want to tell me about the incident?”  This time, he’s smiling like were old friends.  I stick to my story and plead ignorance, not a big stretch for me.  As I’m walking out of the captain’s office I look back and see Sergeant Carlson turn off the tape recorder.


A few weeks later, I run into Gary Hines in court and he reminds me that we switched and he worked the jail that night. One month later Sergeant Carlson promoted to Lieutenant and transferred to Hollywood. 


We never trusted each other.


My most serious complaint involved a pimp name “Bobo” and two other black men who picked up a drunk white valley girl at a club.  They took her to their apartment on Beachwood Drive in Hollywood.  After repeated sexual assaults and beatings, the girl escaped and ran into the street, screaming.


Dave and I were working the Hype car and our hours were 8 PM to 5 AM.  We responded to the screaming women call and were told that the suspects were last seen northbound on Beachwood in a car.  We stayed with the victim as other cops searched the area.  As luck would have it, the suspects drove back down Beachwood and were arrested right in front of us. 


Dave and I drove Bobo and his accomplices to Hollywood station.  We found the victim’s keys under the back seat of our police car.  We tucked Bobo and his friends in a holding tank and went home.


A week later, I went to court and testified about recovering the keys in our police car.  For the next few months I was subpoenaed and attended every court hearing.  The jury found Bobo and friends guilty and sent them to prison.  The presiding judge had a question about why Bobo and accomplices were bloody in their booking photos and ordered an Internal Affairs investigation.  Bobo and his cell mates were interviewed and all pointed me out in a photo lineup.  They claimed that I beat them up in the police car on the way downtown to be booked.  That was hours after I went home.


Two I.A. sergeants come to Hollywood station to interview me.  They show me the face sheet of the complaint and point to a “PF” initial in the corner.  It represents where the D.A. has said if true there’s a prima fascia case against me for assault under color of authority.  In laymen’s terms that means if I’m guilty, I go to prison.  I can’t go to prison, my son hasn’t graduated 6th grade yet.


The sergeants read me my Miranda Rights, which was then unheard of.  They show me pictures of Bobo and his friends after booking.  They have bloody shirts, swollen eyes and fat lips.  When I left them in the Hollywood holding tank they were wearing clean shirts and no visible injuries.


Now, I’d like to tell you these two sergeants were smart, but I can’t.  They asked me if I beat them up.  I asked when they were booked at Jail Division.  They said after 10:00 A.M.  I showed them a copy of my daily log and pointed out that I went home at 5:00 A.M.  I then pointed out a photo lineup of the three suspects taken at 8:00 A.M. by the investigating Detective.  Bobo and friends are not beaten up.


I look these two I.A. Investigators in the eye and ask, “Do you think I waited around 5 hours on my own time to beat them up.”  They then ask, “Well then, who beat them up?”  I’m exasperated and answer, “How the hell would I know? I’m home in bed.”  These two rocket scientists are going to interview my partner, Dave Balleweg who is off IOD (injured on duty) and living near Yucca Valley.  They call ahead and get directions and set up an appointment.  An hour after the appointment time is past, they call Dave and are lost somewhere near Indio, Ca.  These two are going to keep Dave and me out of Prison. They can’t find Yucca Valley with a road map and directions.


Jail-Fight-e1321280138991Later, I was told that Bobo and his accomplices got into a fight in the holding tank and beat each other up. I’m not going to prison, so I don’t have to bulk up to protect myself from a cell mate named Peaches.  They picked me out of the photo lineup because I attended every court appearance.


Two short complaint stories.  “Mike” responded to a “burglar there now” radio call.  They detained a couple of guys as suspects.  One was acting like a complete “asshole.” He was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car.  After interviewing everyone and determining that no crime occurred, Mike said, “I guess I’ll have to let this “Knucklehead” go. 


Well, the “Knucklehead” complained that he was insulted by the remark.  That’s right, I was assigned to interview eight to ten witnesses and spent dozens of hours investigating this terrible miscarriage of justice.  I tried to rationalize that a “knucklehead” was a motorcycle and not misconduct, but the department wouldn’t buy it.  Mike received a reprimand.


photo by
photo by

Last one: this officer stopped this nicely dressed lady for running a stop sign on her way to work.  She didn’t want the ticket and wanted to make a complaint against the officer for using profane language.  I was called to the scene.  This particular officer was known for using swear words in a normal conversations.  I was a little worried for him. 


When I interviewed the lady she was very prim and proper and obviously well-educated.  Of course, she denied running the stop sign but was more concerned with the officer’s language.


I next interviewed the officer and he smiled and said, “Sarge, I have everything on my tape recorder!”  I listened to the tape and this was no lady, she swore like a drunken sailor.  The officer was very professional, he didn’t even call her a knucklehead.


I played the tape for the violator and she blushed at first then want to make a complaint against the officer for taping her conversation.  I told her the Police Department encouraged officers to carry tape recorders to avoid just such complaints.  She called me a bad name and drove off.


Chief Parks was not asked to come back for a second term and some of the complaint procedures were changed.  Frivolous complaints were made into short form.  One day, I stayed home and completed eight short form complaints in four hours and got paid for eight hours.  I didn’t even have to dress and shave for work.  I was also able to write off my computer on my taxes.

More Street Stories Writer's Notes

Just A Reserve? That’s My Partner!

Just A Reserve?

by Gerry Goldshine

You rarely read anything about them in the crime novels and mystery books. They don’t show up on any of the police television shows whether fictional ones like “CSI” or reality series like “Cops”. I am talking about a dedicated group of men and women who volunteer their time to train and work as police officers; the Police Reserves. In many departments, the Reserves are an integral part of the patrol force with their own chain of command, organized training and such. However, in other departments, Reserves are thought of as second class officers to be assigned those menial tasks that the “regular” officers find distasteful, such as booking, transporting prisoners, traffic duty and such.

My experience with reserves

This is about my experience with one particular reserve officer back in early 1980’s when I started with the Petaluma Police Department.

One of the things I learned early in my field training program was that the department regularly beefed up the patrol force numbers, most usually on the weekends when activity and calls for service were the busiest, with our Reserve Police Officers. Back then, we had three levels of reserve officers, each level based upon their training which then determined what duties they could perform. Level One Reserve Officers had to complete the same training as a regular police officer set forth by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). While they were capable of working alone, the number of patrol vehicles available would more often than not dictate that they would double up with a full time, “regular” officer. They were a great asset to the department but unfortunately there were those officers and sergeants that considered them to be something less than “real” police officers, treating them diffidently.

 Getting to know you…


Tim AboudaraRobert-66Petaluma PD
Tim Aboudara
Petaluma PD

I first got to know my eventual reserve partner, Tim Aboudara, while I was working the Graveyard Shift, shortly after completing my field training. I was just thrilled to be done with training and on my own. I say my own as we most usually worked with a single officer assigned to a beat and patrol car.

On this particular night, I had responded to a report of a disturbance outside one of the bars downtown. When I got there, I saw Tim trying to talk to an obviously inebriated man. The “gentleman” was loud, obnoxious and seemed on the verge of being combative. Tim had just told him, “You have until I count to three to go with your friends and leave or I’m taking you to jail for public intoxication.” 

As Tim started to count, the guy became even more verbally abusive and began to curse at him. My only thought was, “Hey, he can’t talk to one of our Reserve Officers like that.”  What can I say? I was new and fired up to make the streets safe for all the good citizens of Petaluma. By the time Tim had reached the count of “two”, I had seen and heard enough; I dashed in, handcuffed him and had him on the way to my car.

As he would later tell people, “Before I had reached the count of three, this short cop came out of nowhere, cuffed the drunk and had him in the back of his patrol car.”

To paraphrase the ending of the movie “Casablanca”, that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


It wasn’t long after that little introduction that we occasionally started to work together as car partners. Despite some of the disparaging remarks I had heard other “regular” officers make about the “Reserves”, I always found Tim, who had several more years of police experience than I did, eager and willing to share what he knew about police work. He was never condescending to me, the “rookie”, as were some of the more veteran officers. Though from differing backgrounds, our personalities meshed together like finely crafted Swiss watch gears. We really began to forge a bond as partners after I was assigned to be the Swing Shift Traffic Unit, regularly working together either Friday or Saturday night and sometimes both. I took it as a complement, that Tim would ask to work with me.

American Graffiti

Thanks to George Lucas filming major portions of his movie “American Graffiti” in Petaluma, our little hamlet became a major destination for “cruisers” throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Traffic would be bumper to bumper for several miles in both directions along the main boulevard that ran through the center of downtown and with it came all the inherent problems that come with youthful exuberance. In addition to the obvious traffic congestion, there was loud music blaring from cars, verbal and physical fights, traffic accidents, a host of vehicle code violations, possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages and less frequently, drugs.

In those early days, Tim and I would spend what quiet time we had early in the shift reviewing the vehicle code to develop an expertise in spotting hazardous violations that could lead to accidents. We also looked for those less obvious violations that would prove to be useful in keeping other problems from arising, such as impeding the flow of traffic or hang out the window of a car.

Streamlining the process

It wasn’t long before we worked nights where we sometimes wrote as many as fifty citations for serious moving violations and sometimes those not so serious. We also became proficient at detecting and apprehending drunk drivers. Working together, we found ways to streamline the process so that we could reduce our time off the streets. As I received more advanced training in traffic accident investigation and reconstruction, I passed it along to Tim as we worked collision cases together. When working major accidents, we again came up with ways to streamline those investigations, freeing up other officers, ourselves and traffic sooner. Many sergeants and officers came to consider Tim knowledgeable enough in traffic matters, that they would often assign him to work as the traffic unit on those nights he happened to work and I was on a day off.

The more we worked together, the more we came to know one and others mannerism, body language and officer safety tactics. I felt comfortable enough working with Tim whether I was driving or sitting in the passenger seat. We knew we had each other’s back regardless of the situation. It’s no exaggeration to say that we trusted each other with our lives. That is the nature of a really good police partnership. Still, I was often questioned by other officers if I was really comfortable trusting my safety to a “reserve”.

I was, without any reservations ever.

Part 2 will appear next Sunday evening. Join Gerry and Tim in the conclusion of “Just a Reserve” and see both light-hearted antics and life or death events they would go through together.  

Traffic Officer "T-36"Gerry GoldshinePetaluma PD
Traffic Officer “T-36”
Gerry Goldshine
Petaluma PD

Gerry Goldshine

Born in Providence, Rhode Island but raised in Southern California.

Upon graduating California State University, Los Angeles, Gerry enlisted

in the Army and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. After leaving

active duty in 1979, he worked for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

From 1980 until his retirement in 1996, he was a patrol officer, traffic officer

at Petaluma Police Department.

He’s married, has a daughter and lives in Sonoma County, California.

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