Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, More Dave Balleweg

 By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired

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

More Dave Balleweg

Another chapter of Dave Balleweg, a true Hollywood Character: The following stories are true unless there’s a civil rights violation, then I made them up. I only worked with Dave for about seven years but we’ve been good friends for over thirty-seven. Some of these stories are from other Ramblings. 


Dave and I worked a radio car for a while but then landed a job as a speeder/SPU car. We dealt with the large population of methamphetamine abusers in Hollywood and the crimes they committed. We also addressed the crime problems of our watch. This included many stake-outs. 


Stake-outs on TV are fun. The star sits in a warm car eating a donut and drinking designer coffee with that sissy sleeve. In less than one minute the suspect commits a crime and the officers make the arrest and go home on time. If there’s a foot chase the officers run through well-lit streets and alleys, jump over four foot fences and catch the bad guy in seconds.


Most real street cops laugh. After a foot pursuit which can last blocks, the officer is out of breath, he’s stepped in dog shit, ripped a clean uniform and lost his police car keys in front of an asshole bar two blocks ago.


Most stake-outs involve hours and even days of watching before a crime is committed that’s worth chasing a dirt bag. When sitting on a roof or in a car you get bored and that’s when cops are most dangerous. They look for things to amuse themselves.


One of first stake outs with Dave involved sitting on the roof of the Pantages Theater in Hollywood in December. Our latest intelligence (a Ouija board, sometimes pronounced Weeji) said the parking lot guys were breaking into cars while the show was in progress. We climbed up twelve stories to the roof and settled in for a long night. The wind is blowing from the north and it’s cold. No problem, my lovely wife made us a thermos of coffee. No wait. There is a problem. My wife doesn’t drink coffee and when we poured out a cup, it was thicker than that crude oil that came out of that well in the gulf.


I have to pee.  No problem. Dave and I pee in the water trough for the air conditioning unit. I later conducted a scientific experiment. If you spit chewing tobacco off a twelve-story building it will parachute half way down and ruin your accuracy, but you hit more cars. On the other hand my wife’s coffee dropped like a Russian satellite. The only crime we saw involved employees from Capital Records who had their Christmas Party. Now that parking lot was busy.


The next night we got an office in the Capital Records building. It overlooked the same parking lot and was a lot warmer. Dave is sitting in some executive’s leather chair and I’m looking out the window. We already changed the radio station to Country Music and I hear Dave on the phone. That’s right Dave called the radio station and had a Johnny Cash song dedicated to Dave and Hal, LAPD, on a stake-out. True story.


It was some time in the winter. Dave and I got a call to meet another car in the back parking lot of a known dirt-bag hotel (Vine Lodge). We figured they needed our expertise with some speeder.


We pulled into the parking lot and the officers were standing at the back of their open car trunk. We got out and walked toward them. We were immediately pelted with snowballs. That’s right–snowballs in Hollywood. Ok, picture this—four LAPD officers running around a parking lot in the middle of the night, having a snowball fight. The officers found the snow on a car in the Hollywood hills. They took some and set up an ambush for us. We all laughed and decided the lieutenant should not miss out in the fun. Dave and I went to the station and coaxed the ell-tee to come outside. As soon as he exited the back door he was pelted with snowballs. He thought this was great fun and didn’t want his Assistant Watch Commander (A W/C) to miss out.


The ell-tee walked into the Watch Commanders Office, past the A W/C and closed the door. The A W/C looked up then turned toward us as we walked through the other door. He was suspicious because we all had our hands behind our backs. He jumped up and tried to go through the door the lieutenant was holding closed from the other side. The A W/C was pelted with eight snowballs. We cleaned up the best we could but the custodian wanted to know how the carpet got so wet. Non-cop friends might think this is juvenile, but it relieves the stress and improved morale. Beside how many can say they had a snow ball fight in Los Angeles, let alone in the Hollywood Watch Commanders Office?


Next, court, and a few characters Dave enriched with his wisdom.           Hal

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Hollywood Characters, part 3


By Hal Collier, LAPD, Retired

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


Here we go again. Another short story, then a story about a Hollywood character. You might notice that I refer to these people as “characters” instead of “nuts”. That’s because I’m still politically correct on occasion. Hollywood was full of characters; some had crossed over the line and into the classification of long-sleeved jackets with straps and buckles on the cuffs. Some were on the border—only one missed dose of medication away from the aforementioned jacket.


Others just were amusing. Some were great training for your brand new probationer—you know the cop who still lives with his mother at home and believes that all people are good. If he gets the chance, he will change their lives around. Some cops mature at different times, and some never mature. Ladies, you’re welcome.


I used to think that the characters in Hollywood had a roll call just like the cops. They would meet at some unknown location and the head character (Watch Commander-like) would call roll. Then he would pass out assignments. The assignments might go something like this:

“Billy, you stand outside the Pantages Theater and when the show lets out, take off all your clothes, and kiss all the women with grey hair.”

Graumans theater“Joe you go to Grauman’s Chinese Theater and fill all the foot and hand prints with urine that Joe’s been saving for a week.”

They might even have an awards show at the end of the year, like the Academy Awards. Best Performance During a Police Tactical Alert, Longest Talk with a Negotiator, Most Cops with Ruined Uniforms During a Resisting Arrest Use of Force. How about having a cop give you a pat down search after you have urinated in your pants or defecating in the back seat of a police car? Those were always award winners.

Ok, you get the picture. Characters all come to Hollywood and wait until the cops are really busy then they go to work.

This first story is about a radio call that I handled that was pretty funny at the time. We got a call “Unknown Trouble” at an apartment building on Laurel Avenue. It’s about 3 AM and we knock on the door. This elderly lady opens the door and tells us to talk in a whisper.

“What’s the problem?” I whisper.

“The people who moved in upstairs are Russian spies and their listening to our conversation right now.”

I ask, “How do you know?”

old lady radioShe replies, “I can hear their listening device. It beeps.”

I wink at my partner and ask, “Why would the Russians be listening into your apartment.”

She says, “My deceased husband was in the army in Europe, during WW ll.”

We look around the apartment and I give her the usual cop out line, “OK, we’ll check it out.” We’re heading for the door when we hear the “Beep.”

Oh, shit what if she’s not nuts!

We look around the apartment again and then I hear the beep again. It’s her smoke alarm. I tell her she needs to replace the battery and her problem will be solved. As we leave, she wants to know if we’ll still check out the Russians. I tell her, “Yea, we’ll put a stakeout on them but you won’t be able to see them. Our stakeout teams are very good.”

She thanks us. Those damn Russians!


Hollywood Characters:  Jack Brooks  


Just about every cop who worked Hollywood knows Jack Brooks by one name or another. Jack was also known as Big Jack. He was about 6′ 8″ and wore a size 14 shoe. He was also known as the “Missing Link.”  Jack had a protruding forehead, which was prominent due to his large head, similar to a Neanderthal. Before you write a nasty note about my being insensitive, you should see Jack. Jack had three teeth, none of which touched each other.


If a training officer had a height deficient probationer, he would stop Jack and have the probationer conduct the search. The probationer would tell Jack to put his hands on his head to conduct a pat down search. At 6′ 8”, the probationer couldn’t reach Jack’s hands to conduct the search as taught in the police academy. Before you call the ACLU, Jack was in on the search and freely cooperated. The academy later changed search techniques for shorter officers.


Jack loved the cops and was rumored to have helped some cops in a fight. I knew of one cop who gave Jack money every so often. Jack was not a problem, except that he was a peeping tom. Jack would sleep in a park during the day and walk the streets at night. I was once working a stakeout for a complaint of a peeping tom. Jack was the suspect. I felt that I was well hidden until Jack came walking up behind us and asked, “What’s up officers?”


Crossroads of the worldI had a pretty good relationship with Jack until I caught him looking into an apartment bathroom window at night. I arrested Jack and he refused to speak to me for five years. Jack would talk to other officers but purposely ignore me. Later when I was a Senior Lead Officer, I was having a business burglary problem at the Crossroads of the World. One business owner asked me if I knew of a homeless man who might sleep on the property and watch the businesses and he would pay him. I thought of Big Jack. Hell, he used to sleep at the Catholic Church next door. I sent Jack over to talk to the owner. The owner gave Jack $20 up front. Jack never showed up. The next time I saw Jack I told him that was the last time I’ll help him.


Up until I retired, I would see Big Jack walking around Hollywood. He might still be out there. I’m sure other Hollywood officers have stories about Big Jack.


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