Street Stories The Call Box

The Call Box: A Vast Wasteland

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPDpolic-call-box-pedestal-lapd-gamewell-DCAL2786_dt1
Fifty-six years ago, Newton Minow, then chairman of the F.C.C. uttered the still quotable line describing TV as “a vast wasteland.”

As true now as then, most people gain their perspective of various occupations or professions from TV. Doctors, attorneys and yes, police officers.

TV helps people to understand us–what, with our wild car chases, daily gunfights, magic deductions, the treatment of victims and especially suspects, instant DNA and so on.
I have said it before and now again. Most of the job is non-confrontational and non-criminal. I understand that no one would watch a show of an officer giving directions, helping someone locked out of their house or car, looking for lost kids, etc.

The reality is a wild, crazy, funny wonderful ride with God knows what encountered along the way, from the mundane to “you ain’t gonna believe this.” Police work is the thrill of living by your wits and sometimes flying by the seat of your pants. Just the satisfaction you get from doing the job, especially when there is no one there to say, “Atta boy.”

Two examples:

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

I was a uniformed officer assigned to some event or another at the Memorial Coliseum, that monolithic home to the 1932 Olympics. I was walking a solo beat on one of the concourse levels, the wide cement “roads,” home to food stands, beer sales and massive restrooms that circle the inside of the venue.

I was approached by a man who reported. “There’s trouble in the men’s restroom.” He was gone before I could obtain any details.

Eight to ten feet inside the door, the problem was evident. A well dressed, middle-aged woman had inadvertently entered the men’s room. The urinals, probably twenty plus, are against the far wall. As she entered someone yelled, “Lady in the room,” at which time a good number of the men at the urinals turned as one to see what was happening.
The woman is now face to face, so to speak, with a situation she was unprepared for. She appeared frozen and unable to move. I stepped in front of her, close enough to block her view. Taking her by the shoulders, I attempted to turn and push her out the door.

She was rigid as a board and was not breathing.

Finally, I was able to break her free and start her moving while shaking her and telling her to breathe.

Once outside, she transitioned from not-breathing to hyperventilation. And she started to melt. Now, I was trying to hold her upright for a few seconds when she regained her composure. She straightened her clothing and without ever uttering a word or looking at me—was gone.

graphicstock-illustration-of-a-cartoon-angry-policeman-cop-_rFR6Esf2Kb_thumbYears earlier, I was working patrol. My partner Frank Isbell and I were in the station for some reason. As I passed the watch commanders office the sergeant called, “Meckle, see me.”
Yes, sergeant.
The following is the gist of that conversation:
Sergeant: Did you write a ticket to a [consulting note] Norman Williams earlier?
Me: Yes, Sergeant.
Sergeant: Did you have a problem with him?
Me: No, Sergeant.
Sergeant: He came in to complain that you called him a [consulting note again] “peragidave.”
Me: A what, Sergeant?
Sergeant: [consulting] A “peragidave or peragidive.”
Me: What’s a peragidive, Sergeant?
Sergeant: I was hoping you could tell me.
Me: Honest, Sergeant. I have no idea what he is talking about. My partner was there the whole time.
Frank has now entered the office and is standing just inside the door trying not to laugh out loud.
Sergeant: [to Frank] Well?
Frank: [shrugged] Nothing, Sarge. [smothering a laugh]
Sergeant: What?
Frank: Honest. Nothing, Sarge.
Sergeant: [to me] Did you say or do anything that would make him drive all this way to complain?
Me: All I did was write him a ticket. He wasn’t happy and said, ‘This is going to court.’ And I said, oh—
Sergeant: What, ‘oh’ what?
Me: I said, “That’s your prerogative.” Aw jeez.
Sergeant: I’m betting he didn’t understand what you said, kept repeating it to himself all the way here and it became peragidave. Do us both a favor. No more big words on the street.

Note: you can’t have laughs like that flipping burgers or bagging groceries, boys and girls.

The Call Box

The Call Box: Three Tales of Yesteryear

lapd callboxBy Ed Meckle

I remember reading somewhere that a light bulb burns brightest just before it goes out. I hope this not the case as some of my memories are crystal clear, others not so. Maybe some things are best forgotten.

A long time ago and far, far away, I was a young copper working night watch patrol. My regular partner, Frank Isbell and I had just left roll call with the sergeant’s words, “Now let’s see who can find her.” following us. He refered to a wanted notice he had just read for a “Cynthia [whatever], physical description provided. She was about our age and wanted for assault with intent to commit murder. The detective handling the case had made the appeal in person and let us know they “really wanted her.”

Five minutes out we reached our patrol area and turned into a quiet side street. An alley runner crossed half a block ahead of us. Two minutes into the interview it was obvious we had nothing. A young man just off work hurrying to see his new girlfriend.


Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles, Ca

As I handed him his license, I have no idea why, maybe just to leave him with a good feeling, I asked the name of his new girlfriend.


“Cynthia [whatever],” he replied.

Frank and I exchanged “the” look and I asked, “About my age, yea tall, short hair, glasses?”

A dubious nod.

I asked, “Where did she go to school?

“Manuel Arts High,” says he.

“What a small world. We were in the same graduating class. Get in the car we’ll drive you. I just want to say hello.”

He was such a square kid that even after we cuffed her he still wasn’t sure what had just happened.

cop leaning on carWorking with a regular partner, someone you know and trust can make life so much easier. Frank and I had an easy relationship, same age, both former Marines. He was one of the best street cops I ever worked with and believe me I knew some really good ones. He was a natural and we were good together. We laughed a lot, finished each other’s sentences and had an almost “spooky” unspoken communication

We had actually developed “routines” for certain situations.

“Officer, do you know who I am?”

This would prompt a reply, “Hey, partner, I’ve got a guy here with amnesia. Doesn’t know who he is.” Or “Do you have any kind of ID sir. Maybe we can help you.”


“Do you realize that I pay your salary?”

“Hey partner, I finally met the guy who pays us.” or “Thank you, sir. You have no idea how much we all appreciate what you do. I can’t wait to tell the guys at the station that I met you. They are going to be so excited. God bless you sir.”

Did this really happen? I don’t know but heard the story long ago.

TurkeysLate night, officer approaches parked car, strange noises emitted in darkened area.
“I would like to see some ID, please,” the officer says to the sole occupant.
His response, “Who me?”

Leave us pause here for a moment. Any interview that starts this way is going to be interesting.

“Where did you get the turkeys? There are 8 turkeys in the back seat all talking at once.

The reply: “What turkeys?”

I defy anyone, anywhere to tell me of another job that is as interesting, weird, strange and as much fun as this one—and they even paid us.


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Drunks in the Park

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Ramblings: Drunks in the Park

Rock GardenI was reading Mikey’s blog about “Short Dogs” and it sparked a very old memory. I started the police academy on Oct. 5, 1970. The first month they crammed our brains with criminal law, self-defense tactics, PT (physical training), which I was told was rougher than Marine Corp boot camp. They also had us throw some lead down range at some silhouette targets. The second month they sent us out to patrol for one day on weekends. We were as green as could be, but we were dressed as real cops and even had loaded guns.

My story begins with our fourth month. We’re getting a little cocky. Our walk is getting that swagger, but we still don’t have a clue how to do real police work. In the past your fourth month was spent in the field. You got to work patrol for two weeks, had driver training, a couple of days working with detectives and, don’t forget the thrill-packed trip to the coroner’s office. They showed you dead bodies and maybe even an autopsy. A lot in my class had been to Viet Nam so dead bodies were not a shock.
We were all looking forward to a whole month of no PT instructors yelling at us and making reference to our heritage! Our class was assigned to station security; guess where? That’s right, the police academy. I guess I was lucky, I got assigned day watch. That’s right, I’m guarding the police academy where just about everybody has a loaded gun. Weekends were nice not too many people around, but I still had a loaded gun. I felt kind of sorry for my classmates who got graveyard shift. Not too much going on after dark unless you wandered into the “Rock Garden.” The Rock Garden was behind the Academy Lounge where cops would have a refreshing beverage and unwind, often with members of the fairer sex. I heard the rock garden was like the last row of a drive-in movie. I have no personal knowledge; remember, I was married.

So, after two weeks of walking around the Academy I finally get to play policemen in the field. I’m assigned to Rampart day watch. Rampart is just west of downtown Los Angeles. My first day I’m assigned to work with a foot beat officer whose assignment is to patrol MacArthur park. I asked my partner what we do in MacArthur park on day watch and he says we arrest drunks. I’m thinking I ran 5 miles up and down hills around the academy and did push-ups as the sun was setting to arrest drunks? I then had an inspiration—arresting drunks beat the hell out of doing pushups at sundown.

Iranian Police dog training/photo courtesy Molosser Dogs


After coffee we head to the park. We drive up the ramp on the sidewalk and head down the foot path into the park. I’m not familiar with the drunks that might be in the park. At the first park bench, my partner stops about three feet away. The biggest Great Dane I ever saw walks up to my car window and sticks his enormous head inches from my face. I believe the dog had just completed some personal hygiene. I guess my expression was funny because my partner and the owner laughed.

The next park bench has a couple of old-timers. Sitting on the ground between them is a plain brown paper bag wrapped neatly around a cylindrical glass bottle. My partner asked them who does that bag belong to. Both deny any knowledge of the bag. My partner confiscates the bag and much to my surprise it contains a bottle of red wine. The bottle is emptied in the trash can in front of the men. I thought I saw a tear in one of men’s eyes.

man sitting on park benchThe next bench has four men sitting upright. We get out of the car for this group. Again, there’s a bottle in the brown paper bag on the ground. The men all have bloodshot eyes and one’s starting to lean to the port side. My partner asks the men to stand. None of them can. They seem to be a happy bunch as we put them into the back seat of our car.
This bottle of wine is placed in our older model Plymouth black and white.

police bookingWe drive to PAB (downtown) where the local jail is for Rampart Division. We pull into the back of the misdemeanor section of the jail and then my partner taught me a lesson I used for the next 35 years. He handed the bottle of wine that we had found in the park and handed it to the four men. They each took a long drink until the bottle was empty. No one complained that they preferred white wine. I walked the first drunk up to the booking officer and the officer called my first arrestee by his first name. They were happy and gave us no problems during booking.

My partner said to me, “Remember, they’re people and treat them with a little respect. They’re easier to book when happy.”

He also said, “Remember to use good officer safety tactics because even a drunk can be dangerous.”



The Call Box

The Call Box: Working Robbery

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

polic-call-box-pedestal-lapd-gamewell-DCAL2786_dt1In early 1965, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. Not from Don Corleone but from Captain Ed Jokisch. I had been at Metro for five years, the last two as a sergeant—an absolute jewel of an assignment and one highly sought after. Now, however, I was offered a chance to not only work for probably the best detective commander on the job but to work robbery as well. The two “big dogs” in detective land are homicide and robbery. Now I had a chance to work robbery. This was not to be offered twice if turned down once.

Each division/station was home to not only patrol (uniforms) but to detectives as well. At that time, the L.A.P.D. had I believe 14 geographical divisions. I was to be assigned to Wilshire Division which is due west of downtown.

Wilshire was a fairly busy house, home to three robbery teams. I was to be a part of that crew.


Dwight Stevens and Richard L. Sullivan were the “’business robbery team.” Tom Ferry and Jim Nichols were “rolling business,” being cabs, buses, (yes, buses) Helms Bread trucks. Helms sold fresh baked goods door to door ringing their bell as they moved through the neighborhood, like the poor push-cart ice cream vendor (also a favorite target). I swear if there had been trains and stagecoaches, they would have hit them too.

Dale Brown “Brownie” and I rounded things out by working “street robbery,” which included purse snatchers, street toughs, muggers, hugger muggers (hookers), drunk rollers, pick-pockets and anything that did not fit any other category.


Papa Bear and Detectives cropped.jpg

The division was fairly large and stretched from the edge of the downtown area west to the “silk stocking” district—poverty to fabulous wealth. Mom and pops to Saks, I. Magnin and Perinos on the miracle mile.


Captain Jokisch was a no nonsense WWII veteran, a Navy chief petty officer, who did not suffer fools gladly and passed out compliments like they were gold nuggets. “You did okay there,” was considered high praise. To his face he was Boss, Skipper or Captain. In our little world, he was “Papa Bear.”

As I have said before, the TV detectives have CEO size offices. In our 19th century building we were (all six of us) crammed into a room, approximately 8’ x 10’ (I may be overly generous with my fading memory). One long table, four phones, 2 or 3 file cabinets and one antique manual typewriter. The standing joke was, “it was so small that if you wanted to change your mind, you had to step outside.” We were separated from the even smaller homicide room by an opaque glass partition ending several feet from the ceiling.

Arrestees that came in overnight were parceled out to the various teams and interviewed as early as possible to determine charges, if any, and whether they merited further investigation. The overnight crime reports were read also to decide future action.

Standing between us and the captain, was our immediate supervisor, Lieutenant Bob “Red Jet” Helder. I’d known him for years; he was laid back and great to work for. “I don’t like to be surprised. Make sure I’m not and you will never know I’m here.”

A good number of our cases contained little or nothing considered useful in follow up. We did re interviews on cases with vague or worthless descriptions if for no other reason than to placate our victims. Maybe—just maybe—we’d come up with something. When we got that something to “run with” we were all over it. We loved slamming the door on the type of bad guy we dealt with. Many our victims were older, defenseless people, some treated badly by the suspects.

These people were our clients and we took satisfaction in bagging another bad guy. We stayed busy since the only thing we had more of than victims was crooks. We handled so many bodies (arrestees) and cases it seemed we lived in court. 10-12 even 14 hour days were not uncommon.

I worked with Brownie for two and a half years and look back with pride and satisfaction. I worked for Papa Bear for two and a half years and got a couple of “You did okay there’s.” I worked Wilshire robbery for two and a half years and never heard judge nor jury say, “not guilty.”

A I have said before, police work is intangible and you have to take pride in what you do. I worked Wilshire robbery until I promoted out. Did I make a difference?

I like to think so.

This column is dedicated to all the names mentioned above.

All good friends, all good men and all gone to soon.

The Call Box

The Call Box: Singin’ in the Rain

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

I am working P.M. Watch Patrol (3A15) at the old University Station with Frank Isbell. We think almost as one. We are in our first partnership which is to last many years. Frank and I have just cleared the parking lot enroute to our patrol area. It is early evening, plenty of light and it has been raining for several days. I am driving.

Less than two minutes out, I turn north from Washington onto Vermont. Directly in front of us is a motorcycle, single male rider, young, no helmet (not then required).

It is listed on the “hot sheet” as stolen. I activated lights and siren.


As reported in a previous episode when the siren pitch goes up, the car slows down (hi- tech). We have solid reds on the roof looking like Mickey’s ears and no seatbelts. When you made a turn everything and everybody slid.

At the sound of the siren the motorcycle took off like the proverbial scared jack rabbit and left us like we were standing still. Frank put us in “pursuit” on the radio.

Side bar: during the first half of the 20th century street cars were a major form of transportation in L.A. All major streets had trolleys and naturally, tracks. At each stop was an area in the street bordered by heavy duty traffic “bumps.” Each was the size of a trash can lid in diameter standing 3 to 4 inches high to protect the passengers/pedestrians. Sounds primitive but that’s the way it was. 

It’s still raining and our hot motorcycle is walking away from us and has a full block lead.

As he approached Olympic Boulevard, a major intersection, we have been on him for about ten blocks. He is about to become a memory.

At this point everything slowed as the motorcycle hit one of the “bumps” at about 70 mph and went airborne.


We watched as it soared end over end, gaining an altitude of 12 to 15 feet. Bouncing once in the intersection without striking anything or anybody, it continued on its journey and crashed into the side of a store on the northwest corner.

The intersection is in a slight depression and had an inch or two of standing water. The rider propelled from the bike, hit the surface of the water like a flat stone skipped across the surface of a pond. He scrambled to his feet and was gone between the houses.

While examining the motorcycle, a citizen (we now had a small crowd) told me there was something laying in the intersection. It turned out to be a wallet. Want to guess who it belonged to??

Now, as if this isn’t improbable enough, our suspect shows up in the crowd. When I went to cuff him, he pleaded, “You can’t arrest me. It’s my birthday.”  We told him that only applied to adults. He was 16. He did smile, though, when we  sang “Happy Birthday” on the way to booking.

The really amazing thing is after going down at 70 mph he did not require medical treatment.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: D/O Sheet Successes, Part 2

By Hal Collier, retired LAPDdo-sheet

In my last Ramblings, I described what a D/O (Daily Occurrence) Sheet was and how I used it. I’m about to tell you how it assisted me in making numerous arrests and the biggest arrest of my career. The LAPD had a saying, “Random Patrol Produces Random Results.” In other words, don’t just drive around and expect a crime to happen in front of you. Patrol where the crime happens and increase your odds. Oh, it happens. I once arrested a robbery suspect while I was just trying to get a cup of coffee. “Random Patrol” was one of the few department theories I bought into.

As I said before, I became a D/O sheet fanatic and was seldom without one or two folded D/O sheets in my sap pocket. I once got a letter with the cover of a news magazine inside from an old partner. The picture on the cover was of a bunch of Hollywood cops stopping some gang members in a gas station. None of the cops could be identified from the picture but this old partner identified me because of the D/O sheets in my sap pocket.


If I had two or three days off, I went to work early and copied the D/O sheets from the days that I missed. I had an unusual amount of success. I would write down named wanted suspects and wanted vehicle license plates. I would review them from time to time to refresh my memory. Sometimes on my way to work I would ask myself, “What am I’m looking for tonight?” and recall what I got off the D/O sheet. I would then look at my officer’s notebook and verify the name or license plate. Some thought I had a photographic memory. No, I just worked at it.


When I was assigned to the Hollywood Boulevard Foot Beat I still kept abreast of what was going on in Hollywood. I once noticed a couple of BFMV (car break ins) at an apartment building just off Hollywood Boulevard. It was just outside of my foot beat responsibility but I didn’t care. So, one quiet night we walked down into the sub-garage and guess what? We caught a car burglar. It was mostly luck and a few D/O sheet clues but my lieutenant thought I was a genius.


Part 3 on November 20, 2016

The Call Box

The Call Box: Welcome to the 19th Century, part 3




By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

Ward transferred to a staff job and Hal went to the day watch. Years later he would become one of the first helicopter pilots when “air support division” was formed. [see The Call Box August 16th for more on Ward Fitzgerald and Hal Brasher].  


3A15 was now “my” car [see The Call Box August 24th for more on 3A15].  George Flanders soon transferred to motors, and Frank (Isbell) and I worked with a succession of newbies. When we were together though, we were the perfect partners. Frank was a year or two older and from Corpus Christi, Texas, a former Marine (as was I) and an all-around good guy. He had a good sense of humor and was smart as a whip (he made captain before retiring). We developed an easy relationship when on the street.


Eye contact with each other was important because a certain facial expression conveyed a message. We had code words to pass information without alerting the person or persons we were talking to. Just a look conveyed a message. He was a great street cop and a great partner.


The police unit or patrol car

All cars in our division were two- or three-year-old four door Fords, Chevys or Plymouths. All were standard transmission. They actually had one unit with automatic transmission. The officers assigned had to do a report every week to see if it was suitable for police work. Honest.


At age two or three they had been on the street 24 hours a day unless pulled for service. And they were tired. They were the most inexpensive cars the city could buy. They also did not have seat belts. I think oversized springs was the only concession to street work.


The emergency lights were two round non-flashers mounted on the roof with a siren between them. Both were activated by pulling two buttons on the dash then operating the siren with the horn ring. The car was so under powered that as the pitch of the siren went up the car slowed down.


Again, honest.



Most of the cars had a string tied to the dash buttons running to the shift lever so they could be activated by pulling on the strings. Hi-tech. The “hot sheet” which was the list of stolen vehicles, was displayed by bending a paper clip and hanging it from the dash, where it swung freely.


Frank used to envision something like a TV screen in the cars that would give us up to date information. Yeah, right!!


This was when computers were in their infancy. After we left patrol we worked together several more times but that is for future stories.


As to the mystery building glued to the east end of the station, I never could find anyone to explain it. It was made of faux logs, was approximately 20’ by 20’, painted a bilious yellow, and it had once been a hamburger stand. It now served as the office for the Vice Squad.


More on that later…


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Dispatchers and MDT’s

by Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

I’ve given you some of my true stories of the good and bad dispatchers. They can all be verified by listening to me talk in my sleep.

I was not brought up in the computer world but was dragged into it by my employment and my kids. I think my first experience with a computer was an Atari 2600 and playing Space Invaders. My kids beat me regularly.


Before computers in the cars you received radio calls by voice from the dispatchers. On a busy night in Hollywood it went something like this: I’d pick up the microphone and in my ‘please don’t give me all the crappy calls tonight’ voice say, “6A65 Morning Watch Clear, Good Morning.”

The RTO responded, “Good morning. Stand by for five calls.”

The RTO would then pause to give you time to get out my #2 Ticonderoga pencil and a 3”x5” note pad. The RTO would then read off the five calls. I had to write down the time, address and nature of the call. High priority calls came first. That 3”X5” note pad was your log (or DFAR as we called them in the LAPD; DFAR stood for Daily Field Activities Report).

Often at code-7 you would transfer your notes to the DFAR. On real busy nights you spent a ½ hour after end of watch completing your DFAR. That was on your own time, by the way. I wished I’d taken short hand in high school instead of print shop. I heard that some officers that didn’t like RTO’s would make them repeat the calls a second and third time—not my style. I knew where my next call was coming from.


After handling the first high priority call you notified the RTO and tried to move on to the next call. Well, if another high priority call came in the RTO gave that for you to handle first. Some nights it went like this for most of the night. That was why we sometimes handled loud party calls three to five hours late. Hell, the party giver had almost sobered up by the time we showed up. That was Hollywood in the 70’s.


Sometime around the mid 80’s they started putting computers in black and whites. They were called MDT’s (Mobil Digital Transmitters or terminals). A marvelous piece of technology when they worked. Somehow putting a computer in a hot car is asking a lot from a machine invented by a geek. I don’t know what caused the problems with the MDT’s other than most cops resist change. Some old timers refused to even turn them on and others vandalized them. The fact was, an officer either adjusted or rode the pine bench (desk).


The RTO now gives you your five calls by transmitting them to your MDT. I missed her sweet voice as she destroyed the next two hours of my career! Like them or hate them computers are here to stay. Adjust or go the way of the Dodo bird.

Computers had some drawbacks as anybody knows who ever accidently deleted that nice letter to Aunt Millie before you sent it!


Next: How computers changed police work forever!   Hal

The Call Box

The Call Box: Welcome to the 19th Century, part 2

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

Ward Fitzgerald and Hal Brasher were both WWII vets. Ward served with the Navy in the Pacific while Hal piloted B-26 Martin Marauder bombers in North Africa. They were both laid back, calm, quiet and had seen it all. Each old enough to be my father and they took the time and patience to teach me how to be a street cop. They knew everybody in their area and everybody knew them.


Normally, three officers would be assigned to each unit [car]. With one usually day off, etc, the other two partnered up. When all three of us were working, I was assigned to another unit. When that happened, I got to know the other guys on the watch and see different parts of the division. I recall one night, pulling up to the gas pumps prior to going on patrol with a new partner when I saw him hugging a trustee [each station was assigned jail trustees to shine shoes, clean the coffee room, pump gas, or whatever].


I gave him a questioning look and he told me the trustee was his father doing time for DUI and that his mother asked him to keep an eye on dad [shades of Mayberry].  My regular unit with Ward or Hal was “3 A 1 5.” The “three” being the designation for university, the “a” for a two-man patrol unit, and the “1 5” was us. There were a lot of other “3 As” but we were the only “1 5.” Our patrol area was the north west portion of the division. An area known then as now known as the Normandie/Adams area. In the late 1800s and very early 1900s the area was [slightly] elevated was populated by grand mansions inhabited by the rich and famous. It became known as “Sugar Hill.”



We were the Sugar Hill car. By now however, the area had fallen on hard times and some of the mansions sat vacant while others had been converted to boarding houses or “flop houses.” Some stood as though in a pose of embarrassment, resembling elderly matrons ashamed of themselves and their surroundings. We were a night watch unit and the division came alive with a different persona at dusk.


I was taught to slowly drive the darkened side streets with lights off and windows down. We cruised back alleys and sometimes would stop and just listen. I learned the difference between “looking” and “seeing” and “listening” and “hearing.” I learned how to talk to people, to read body language so it became second nature to me to “see” and “hear” things.  I was quizzed on things we had just done, and sometimes to see if I had picked up on the subtleties of something that we had encountered. I grew confident until the powers that be decided I should work with two younger guys. Thus Frank Isbell and George Flanders came into my life.

Next Wednesday, August 31st will post the last installment of Welcome to the 19th Century by Ed Meckle

The Call Box

The Call Box: There Will Be Blood



By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD


It was either 1960 or 61 when my partner, Frank Isbell and I caught the dream job for the summer: we were assigned to work the night watch at Dockweiler State Beach. It was at the very end of Imperial Highway where it crossed a quiet frontage road just south of L.A.X. As you crossed the road you continued on to a huge man-made berm or bluff which over looked the beach and ocean. It was strictly a picnic area as there were a hundred or more large concrete fire rings on the beach. Where you drove into the area, on this bluff was a fairly good-sized building with glass all around. This was the H.Q. for the people who ran the parking lots/the lifeguards and us, the police. From this bluff you had a commanding view of the entire area.

The assignment was really a piece of cake as the beach attracted mostly family or church or school groups all usually well behaved. We had a Jeep donated by the lifeguard service to drive the beach area which aside from the fire rings consisted of a paved parking lot. Crowds usually numbered in the hundreds and as previously stated was family oriented—with some exceptions. We usually drove the area slowly to ”show the flag” as they say. Then up top to drink coffee and watch with binoculars. At closing time, nine or ten p.m., they would blink the parking lot lights. Families would begin packing up to leave and all would be gone on time.

Not this night. As the last of the families drove away, we noticed two males still on the beach—drinking, a no-no. We blinked the lights again and used the ”bull horn” to advise them to leave.

In a very loud voice the pair told us to commit a lewd act upon ourselves. Not very polite. They were advised the gates would be locked in five minutes and they and their vehicle would spend the night (a bluff, of course). A few minutes we heard breaking glass. Looking through the binocs, we saw them taking glass bottles from the trash and breaking them on the parking lot. Bad language is one thing; this could not pass. This was our house and you don’t act like that in our house.

We stopped them at the gate and they were escorted back to the parking lot and told to pick up every piece of glass.

One of them said, “But officer, we are barefooted.”

Frank and I replied as one, ”We noticed, now get busy.” There were no brooms available, dustpans nor anything to carry the glass but their hands and arms.

Twenty minutes later, we were satisfied and they were released. There were bloody footprints everywhere and it looked like some crazy crime scene.

I can just imagine the consequences if we did that today. God help me, I loved the job.

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