Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Bombs part 2


By Hal Collier, retired LAPD

I spent 15 months as a new sergeant in Watts. I don’t recall one bomb threat or suspicious package call. I returned to Hollywood division and my second day back we had a bomb threat call. It could be me the threats were directed at! Here’s some more.


CBS news was located in Hollywood at Sunset and Gower. Every night near the end of the 11:00 o’clock news they would air an editorial and some critic would phone in a bomb

threat at the station. My first response after roll call was to CBS. We’d search the news room area but never found anything suspicious. We’d take a bomb threat crime report and head for coffee—it’s going to be a long night. We also got to know the staff and newscasters on a first name basis.




A side note Dr. George Fischbeck was the weatherman at ABC in Hollywood. Every night around 11:45 PM he would stop at the strip mall at Hollywood and Taft. We were drinking coffee from, yes, a donut shop, and he stopped at the 7-11. He would then walk over to us cops to say hi.


I’d ask, “Dr. George, what’s the weather for tomorrow?”

His reply was always the same, “I don’t know. I only read that crap on TV.”


Fast forward to 1984.  The Olympics have come to Los Angeles and the police department is on high alert. Things are going smoothly and I’m eating code 7 at the Denny’s at Sunset and Gower. I walk out to my police car and get in the driver’s seat. Just before I turn the ignition key, I notice a small object on the windshield wiper. I get out and notice it’s about a 3” X 5” package and wrapped in Christmas paper.

It’s July!  Typical of most cops I look around for another cop playing a practical joke on me. Next, I get down on one knee and look for a bigger bomb. Nothing!  I called the bomb squad—my momma raised a hero but not a fool.


The bomb squad responded and inspected the package. They x-rayed the bundle and then opened it. It was a small bible! Maybe the person who left it figured I needed a little religion or then again it could have been a test. I apologized to the Bomb Squad technician. His name was Ronald Ball. He was later killed diffusing a pipe bomb. He told me don’t ever apologize, always call us. I did from then on! He told me that if it was a bomb it was big enough to blow off my hand!


I already told of the time I walked into the police parking lot at start of watch to get my cruiser. In between the front seat was a hand grenade. It was later determined to be a dud but I wasn’t prepared to take a chance without first checking my horoscope. The previous watch found it in a parking lot and forgot to book it. They knew it was a dud. They got two ass-chewing’s—one from me and my partner and another from the LAPD brass.


Being Hollywood just about every big story was covered by the media. We handled a lot of bomb threat calls and most were false. There was a radio station at Sunset and Argyle, it was right across the street from the world famous Hollywood Palladium. We would get a bomb threat at the radio station and set up our command post in the Palladium parking lot across the street. After the third threat a bomb squad officer told us that the threats could be to see where we set up our command post. Then plant a real bomb in the parking lot and take out a lot of first responders. I think my next command post will be at Pinks.


The last Ramblings bomb threats will cover a few more bomb threats and  9/11.


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Fighting in Uniform: The Worst and the Longest

This will be the last Ramblings on fighting in uniform.  As I said before I didn’t fight a lot but sometimes I just couldn’t talk my way out of wrestling match.

I worked a few plain clothes assignments but never vice.  Vice officers are always fighting.  They get a violation and the criminal either decides he’s not going to jail on a morals charge, or he claims that he didn’t know it was a cop.  Suspects always use the defense they didn’t know it was a cop when arrested by a plain clothes officer.

Ironic that all the times I was dressed for a fight, you know jeans, tennis shoes and an old shirt, I never had to fight.

Not all my fights were with men as you might expect.  I was brought up to never hit a girl but once as a child I learned a valuable lesson.  My sister had been picking on me and hit me.  I hauled off and hit her back.  She never hit me again. Hum.

It’s December 24 at about 3 A.M.  My partner a female and I get a domestic family dispute call.  We arrive and expect it to be a husband/wife dispute.  No, it’s brother against brother and both have been drinking.  Brother “A” punches brother “B” in the nose, breaking it.  Brother “B” demands a citizen arrest of brother “A”.  Both brothers are in their 30’s and by law we are required to accept the arrest.

Brother “A” gets handcuffed and placed in the back seat of our police car.  I’m about to drive off when the boys’ mother, also drunk, races out of the house and screams, “You’re not taking my son to jail on Christmas Eve!”  She reaches in my open window and grabs me around the neck.  I swing open the car door and knock mom to the ground.

As I step out of the car, Mom attacks me. Mom is about 5′ 3″ and 100 lbs. soaking wet.  I declined using the department approved choke hold and go for a rear wrist lock. I’m thinking it will be more humane for a little old lady.  I hear a familiar snap sound—shit, I broke her arm.  Mom and the son both went to jail on Christmas Eve.  Mom first stopped off at an emergency room to have her arm set.


Police grab a union worker as others protest during a tense moment as union workers block a grain train in Longview, Wash.,  Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011.   Longshoremen  blocked the train as part of an escalating dispute about labor at the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Police grab a union worker as others protest during a tense moment as union workers block a grain train in Longview, Wash., Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. Longshoremen blocked the train as part of an escalating dispute about labor at the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview.
(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Another time I’m walking a Morning Watch foot beat.  We are walking thru an alley just south of Hollywood Boulevard at Highland.  We see two guys and a girl standing next to a parked car.  They are acting suspicious and we approach in the dark.  When we get up on the car we see a second girl crouched down.  I walk up on the girl, she screams, jumps up and grabs my badge.


Cops are very protective of two things.  Their gun (which if taken away from them will get them killed) and their badge.  The badge is earned and carried with a cop at all times.  An officer keeps the same badge throughout their careers unless they promote.  Most cops shine it every day before pinning it on their uniform and if shined enough the windows of City Hall were rubbed smooth.  My badge said “Policeman”.  Later, when females were hired for patrol, the badges said “Police Officer.”  I use to say that I spent more time sleeping with my badge than I did with my wife.


Anyway this young girl grabs my badge and is attempting to rip it from my uniform shirt.  Without even thinking, I grab the girl by the neck and lifted her with one hand and threw her on the hood of the car.  The girl had been to a club drinking and when they got to their car, she decided she had to pee.  She squatted down when we walked up on her.  She was embarrassed being caught and even more embarrassed when she went to jail.  Yea, she made a complaint against me.


This last story involved the longest fight I was ever in.  The Hollywood Palladium in the 70’s was notorious for booking rock groups.  With rock groups, comes drug abuse.  I’m working with Officer Bob and we get a call of a 415 Man (disturbing the peace) a block from the Palladium.  The citizen says this guy was running around in his yard acting crazy and jumped over his fence.  He went east.  We tell the citizen the standard Adam 12 line, “We’ll check it out.”  We get back in our car and drive east.  We only travel a few houses when another resident runs out and asks us if were looking for the drunk nut.   The resident says he sitting in his driveway.  Oh crap, we’ll have to take the drunk downtown to book and it will take us a couple of hours.


We walk up the driveway and see our suspect sitting in some tall grass.  He’s looks stoned and I can’t see his hands due to the grass.  I walk behind him and grab his hands.  As he stands up he digs his heels in the ground and throws me back against a block wall.  I apply a department approved choke hold as taught to me by Bob Jarvis at the Police Academy.


This suspect is only about 5′ 6″ and a 130 lbs.  I’m 6′ and 160 lbs. of a fighting machine.  My partner, Bob is a weight lifter and very strong.  Somehow my choke hold slips and this little guy refuses to pass out.  I’m trying to reapply the choke hold and Bob is whacking the suspect across the shins with his baton.  Both of these tactics just anger our suspect.  I vividly remember Bob throwing his baton away and ripping his clip on tie from his shirt and jumping in to control this drug crazed lunatic.


We can each control an arm, but when we try to pull his arms behind him, so we can handcuff him, he gets a burst of strength.  We’re rolling around on the ground for a good ten minutes.  With our body weight we can keep him pinned to the dirt.  We count, 1, 2, 3, and swing his arms behind his back.  After 5 minutes we get one hand cuffed. 1,2,3, pull his arms back, this time we were inches from cuffing him.  This goes on for another 10 minutes, 1,2,3, ah shit we almost had it that time.  After a long time we get this little guy cuffed.  The resident watched from his kitchen window and couldn’t believe the strength of the little guy.  We would need him as a witness later when our suspect made a complaint against us for excessive force.


We booked our suspect at Hollywood Jail and the next day he couldn’t walk to the Sheriffs bus due to the whacks across the shins.  We had a couple of interviews with Internal Affairs and were cleared of the charges.  Our suspect was loaded on PCP.


There’s a funny ending to this story.  Six months later, I get a radio call to an apartment regarding a loud party.  We knock on the door and the owner gets right in my face about what a brutal cop I am.  That’s right it was the little guy I ruined a uniform fighting with.  I run him for warrants and sure enough, he didn’t show up for court on a traffic ticket.  I can’t arrest him in his residence at that late hour due to a law.  I advise him to take care of his warrant and he tells me to do something anatomically impossible and said something about my mother.


The law restricted his arrest in his apartment until 6:00 A.M.  At 6:01 A.M. that same morning, I knocked on his door and asked him if he had taken care of that warrant.  He said he hadn’t.  Guess what, he went to jail again.  Don’t talk about a cop’s mother.


As I said before I didn’t like fighting, even when you win, you lose.  Torn uniforms, Citizen Complaints, but thank goodness your skin grows back. 



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