Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: A Cop Character This Time

By Hal Collier LAPD, Retired

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


The following story is true.  The story is not humorous but once in a while we did real police work. And you thought everything I wrote about was a waste of tax payers’ money. The character is real and again another red headed cop. Darryl Dyment


Here I am again on morning watch and responding to an alarm. This alarm was different than most alarms in the middle of the night. It was a robbery alarm at the Gap Store on Hollywood Boulevard. Robbery alarms go off all the time but not usually when the business has been closed for six hours.


It’s a slow night and half the division responds. We surround the business which sits on a block of two story buildings. The doors are checked and there are no signs of a break in. As with most cops, we’re standing around and bad mouthing the new sergeant who can’t find Hollywood Boulevard in the daylight.


My probationer comes up to me and asks what the difference between a burglar alarm and a robbery alarm? I’m a little annoyed because I have a really good story about this new sergeant. I tell him that burglary alarms are activated by a perimeter break in the alarm system. I then tell him that a robbery alarm is usually set off by a button pushed by an employee during a robbery or when the bait money is taken from the cash register. For my non-police friends, bait money is taken from a slot in the cash register that triggers a robbery alarm when removed.  Banks use bait money.


My probationer then asks me, why we did we get a robbery alarm when the business has been closed for hours? Oh shit, this kid has some smarts. I’ll probably be working for him some day, I’d better stop calling him a dumb ass.


We go back to the glass front door and look inside. It’s dark inside except for the red light over one of the dressing rooms. Ok, I don’t like shopping for clothes and usually let my wife buy everything I wear. This probationer apparently buys his own clothes and tells me that the red light over the dressing room alerts the staff that someone is in the dressing room. The dressing rooms have a sensor on the floor. I guess it’s some kind of an anti-theft device.


We stand there and watch for a minute. I’m missing my chance to tell a really good story about this sergeant. Guess what? A guy peeks out of the dressing room door. I’m pretty sure he’s not an employee who stayed after work to try on the women’s lingerie, but then it’s Hollywood.


We break up the coffee clutch and surround the building again. After a search, we discover that two guys tunneled into the Gap from an adjacent stairwell, took the cash (bait money) from the register and then hid. I had to buy breakfast for my probationer. I think he remembered when he was my boss.


Hollywood Character: Darryl  Dyment


Hi, I’m Larry and this is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl! I’m pretty sure this character was one of those Darryls. I’m not sure how my Darryl spelled his name but I’m sure people who knew him will know who I’m talking about–he was colorful to say the least. Darryl was a sergeant in the Los Angeles Police Department and saved a lot of cops butts.


Darryl was one of the sergeants who took care of his officers but in a unique way. Darryl’s ways were not always by the book, but by God he got the results the department wanted and cops loved him.


I was a patrol cop when Darryl breezed through Hollywood but I got to know him when we jogged together after work. We would go on a 3 1/2 mile run which seemed like a marathon because Darryl had you laughing most of the way. Darryl carried a small revolver and tear gas. It was all I could do just to keep up. Darryl would use the tear gas to spray loose dogs who chased us and the gun to chase away the bigger predators. 


Once Darryl wanted to change our running course.  We jogged down Hollywood Boulevard.  What a mistake. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is washed every night, even in drought years. When wet, it’s as slippery as a female mud wrestler. Use your own imagination.


Darryl was never one to shy away from a good practical joke and cost was not a problem. Darryl apparently had some front teeth knocked out as a youth. He had caps that he could remove. Darryl had his dentist make him up a few extra sets of caps for special occasions. One set had long hairs protruding from the gap in his front teeth. It was impossible to talk to Darryl and not look at those disgusting teeth. Darryl would engage you a long conversation until you broke down and looked away.


Darryl also had a set of teeth that he would put in around Halloween. One of his caps was broken and it came to a point, kind of jagged. He would put this set in and then talk to a citizen or command staff officer. The tooth had a small pouch attached and when Darryl would squeeze the pouch with his tongue a puss like liquid would come out of the jagged tooth. I only saw this happen once but I still have the scar. 


That was Darryl, he was a captain’s nightmare but a real good cop and another Hollywood Character. 

Ramblings by Hal

A Policeman’s Christmas

Read to the bottom for a Christmas story from Hal Collier. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Kwanzaa or what ever way you celebrate the season-have a happy one!


Author unknown
In 1974 when I first joined the police department, I knew there would be
special occasions my family would spend without me. Knowing that fact
didn’t make the task any easier. The celebrations I missed those first years
depressed me and sometimes made me feel bitter. Working on Christmas Eve
was always the worst.

On Christmas Eve in 1977, I learned that a blessing can come disguised as
misfortune, and honor is more than just a word. I was riding a one man
patrol unit on the 4×10 shift. The night was cold. Everywhere I looked I
saw reminders of the holiday: families packing their cars with
presents, beautifully decorated trees in living room windows and roofs adorned with tiny
sleighs. It all added to my holiday depression mood. The evening had been
relatively quiet; there were calls for barking dogs and a residential false
burglar alarm. There was nothing to make the night pass any quicker. I
thought of my own family without me there with them and I sunk further into

Shortly after 2200 hours I got a radio call to the home of an elderly,
terminally ill man. I parked my patrol car in front of a simple Cape Cod
style home. First aid kit in hand, I walked up the short path to the front
door. As I approached, a woman who seemed to be about 80 years old opened the
door. He’s in here she said, leading me to a back bedroom. We passed
through a living room that was furnished in a style I had come to associate with
older people. The sofa has an afghan blanket draped over its back and a
dark, solid Queen Anne chair positioned next to an unused fireplace. The
mantle was cluttered with an eccentric mix of several photos, some ceramic
figurines and an antique clock. A floor lamp provided soft lighting. We
entered a small bedroom where I saw a frail looking man lay in bed with a
blanket pulled under his chin. He wore a blank stare on his ashen, skeletal
face. His breathing was shallow and labored. He was barely alive.

The trappings of illness all around his bed. The nightstand was littered
with a large number of pill vials. An oxygen bottle stood nearby. Its
plastic hose, with face mask attached rested on the blanket. I asked the old
woman why she called the police. She simply shrugged and nodded sadly
toward her husband, indicating it was his request. I looked at him and he
stared intently into my eyes. He seemed relaxed now. I didn’t understand the
suddenly calm expression on his face. I looked around the room again. A
dresser stood along the wall to the left of the bed. On it was the usual
memorabilia: ornate perfume bottles, a white porcelain pin case, and a wooden
jewelry case. There were also several photos in simple frames. One caught my
eye and I walked closer to the dresser for a closer look. The picture
showed a young man dressed in a police uniform. It was unmistakably a photo of
the man in bed. I knew then why I was there. I looked at the old man and
he motioned with his hand toward the side of the bed. I walked over and
stood beside him. He slid a thin arm from under the covers and took my hand.
Soon, I felt his hand go limp, I looked at his face. There was no fear there.
I saw only peace. He knew he was dying; he was aware his time was very
near. I know now that he was afraid of what was about to happen and he wanted
the protection of a fellow cop on his journey. A caring God had seen to
it that his child would be delivered safely to him.

The honor of being his escort fell to me. When I left at the end of my
tour that night, the temperature had seemed to have risen considerably, and
all the holiday displays I saw on the way home made me smile. I no longer
feel sorry for myself for having to work on Christmas Eve. I have chosen an
honorable profession. I pray that when it’s my turn to leave this world
there will be a cop there to hold my hand and remind me that I have nothing to
fear. I wish all my brothers and sisters who have to work this
Christmas Eve all the Joy and warmth of the Season.

Author is unknown


Ramblings-Christmas story

By Hal Collier

LAPD B-wagon parked next to a retired Reid and Malloy patrol unit photo by
LAPD B-wagon parked next to a retired Reid and Malloy patrol unit photo by

This is a short Christmas story.  I was assigned to Community Relations and every Christmas we would hand out food baskets to the less fortunate.  We were given a list of families who requested the food.  Dale and I were driving the old B- Wagon.  We had the back filled up with large boxes containing a frozen turkey and canned goods .  Dale and I made a few deliveries.  A few houses on our list had a new car in the driveway, nice furniture, a bigger TV than we had, and they definitely didn’t deserve a food box.

We decided to throw away the list and hunt down our own needy families.  We were driving southbound on Wilcox when we observed a small boy playing outside a rundown duplex.  Dale called the boy over and the boy yelled,  “I didn’t do anything.”  We assured him that he wasn’t in any trouble and asked where his mother was.
We went into his house and sure enough they had nothing.  We ran back out to the B-wagon and brought back the box of food.  The mother kept thanking us and she began to cry.  Dale and I could feel a lump swelling up in our throats.  Our eyes began to water and we told the mother we had to leave.  She gave us a hug.  I still get misty eyed when I recall that story.  We found other deserving families but this one I recall every Christmas.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Hal’s next Ramblings post will be on December 26th. We’re taking Christmas Day off to enjoy family and friends. I hope you are, too!

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, part 8, Miscellaneous-A Slow Chase

By Hal Collier

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


The following story is true, best to my fading memory. Some of my earlier stories dealt with pursuits. One was about my worst car pursuit and one my worst foot pursuits. Even the bad pursuits are a fond memory of an eventful career. As in life, not everything is bad. I actually had a lot of good moments. I remember my lucky arrests. Ok, this story is about the best and longest car pursuit I was ever in.


If you remember, I said I don’t like car pursuits. They’re dangerous and they seldom seem worth risking your life. Think about hurtling through the streets at breakneck speeds, because someone doesn’t want a ticket, they’re drunk, or they’re driving a stolen car. Even a stolen car will only get them a few months in county jail. A lot of cops die chasing cars. I knew of one cop who loved pursuits. He would hide out on Forrest Lawn Drive, see a speeding car, and let him get a good head start, before turning on the red lights and siren. The speeding car would figure he had enough of a lead to outrun the cops and take off. 


Ok, back to my story. I’m working; yep you guessed it, Morning Watch. I’m working with Bill, a good partner. Some partners you just click with. Bill’s driving and I’m keeping the books. Books are police slang for keeping the log and writing all the reports for the night. Bill and I had a great system for running license plates that were going away from you. The driver would look at the first three or four letters/numbers and the passenger would look at the last three letters/numbers. That way we would have the whole license plate to check to see if it was stolen or wanted. If you’re following behind the car, it’s not a big problem because you can read the license as you talk to the dispatcher downtown.


police traffic stopWe’re stopped at a red light at Franklin Avenue and Bronson Avenue. A car drives southbound on Bronson past the front of our car. The driver looks at us then quickly looks away. Ok, if you’ve got kids you know that look when you catch them doing something wrong. Bill and I look at each other, without saying anything. We both know he’s dirty. We pull in behind the car, a 70’s Pinto, and run the license plate. The dispatcher tells us the car is stolen, taken in a robbery, the suspect is considered armed and dangerous.


The adrenalin is starting to flow. We request back up and an air unit (helicopter). This is where the action begins. We have a backup police car behind us, a helicopter overhead, and a full tank of gas. That’s important as you will see later. We cinch up our seatbelts and turn on our red lights and siren. The Pinto accelerates to a top speed of 45 mph. To my non-police friends, Bill is responsible for driving the car. I’m responsible for broadcasting streets, direction, and suspect description. Both officers watch for oncoming cars, cross traffic, pedestrians, and Department Brass. 


The Pinto drives westbound Hollywood and northbound Cahuenga. I don’t think we’re going to have any trouble keeping up with this 4 cylinder Pinto. After all were driving a high performance, police equipped V-8 that the city bought from the lowest bidder.


The next 20 miles is pretty boring. The Pinto drives onto the northbound Hollywood Freeway (101). The Pinto is straining to get over the Cahuenga Pass. I’m broadcasting our location as we pass the off ramps. We are now in the San Fernando Valley and as we pass each on ramp we see two police cars waiting to get into the action. The Pinto is now up to 65 mph. We have a sergeant with us who keeps our pursuit from becoming a 30-car procession of police cars. 


Ford Pinto
Ford Pinto

As we head into the west end of the valley, our radio begins to break up. Another item bought from the lowest bidder. Communications advises us to let the helicopter broadcast the pursuit. Ok, I hang up the microphone, put up my headrest, and tell Bill to wake me if the Pinto exits the Freeway. Ok just kidding, but the Pinto is not going to outrun us or the helicopter. 


We leave L.A, County and enter Ventura County. I see Ventura County Sheriffs sitting on the on ramps. We travel through the communities of Agoura, Westlake Village, and Thousand Oaks. The Pinto strains to get up the hill on the Conejo pass. On the down side it reaches speeds that top 70 mph. We are driving into Camarillo when our helicopter advises us that he is low on gas and has to turn back. Ha ha, we filled up at start of watch. I think were in Ventura when the Pinto slows and exits the freeway at Victoria Ave. He’s out of gas. Hum!


The end of a pursuit is usually a dangerous, tension-filled occurrence. Cops are mad because of the danger this dirt bag has put them through, the adrenalin is flowing and after a close call, revenge is on most cops minds. These are the times when police officers lose control of their emotions and end up on You Tube and in court unemployed. This was different. After this slow, long pursuit, the adrenalin has left us. We order the driver out of his car and he complies, unlike Rodney King. He lays down on the street and I handcuff him. I put him in our car and we begin the long drive back to Hollywood. Our Sergeant has to stop and get gas, to get back to Hollywood. The pursuit was 56 miles in 53 minutes.


We’re on our way back and I ask the suspect, “Why did you run?” He said, “I was in West Hollywood and I saw the Sheriffs kick a guy’s ass for flicking a cigarette. I’m driving a stolen car, I was just putting off an ass kicking. You guys didn’t even hit me”.   I told Bill, “Stop the car. Let’s kick this guy’s ass.” The guy’s eyes got big and Bill and I both laughed. 


The robbery involved a gay man who picked up our suspect for a date. Our suspect took his wallet and car. Not the kind of Armed and Dangerous you see on TV. The pursuit lasted longer than it took me to write the arrest report. 


I think my sergeant is still trying to cash a check in Ventura to buy gas so he can get back to Hollywood.


We don’t miss him. 

More Street Stories

Why people see cops as ‘arrogant’



Reposted from and

For cops, letting down one’s guard is a good way to get yourself or someone else hurt or killed

A question posted recently on Quora .com asked, “Why do police officers often come across as arrogant?” Former Patrol Officer Justin Freeman gave his opinion in an imaginary conversation with an average civilian.

Because they have different priorities than you do.

Humans, like most everything else in the universe, seek to maintain a sense of equilibrium in things. This is true for not just matters of physiology, but for social interactions, as well. Think about the interactions you have on a daily basis: In most all of them, you enter an interaction with at least a neutral mindset and perhaps even an assumption of goodwill. When one wakes up next to their partner, they don’t harbor an innate suspicion about the partner’s motives — they assume that the partner is as good-willed as they were when they fell asleep, and their interactions proceed founded on this assumption.

Or think about your interactions at work. Absent narcissism or self-deprecation, when you go into a job, you default to considering your peers as more or less equal. Of course, as time wears on you begin to categorize people, but those initial interactions will be civil and respectful, because that’s what’s expected — that is the silent understanding wrought by the norms of your workplace.


Okay, Richard Gere isn't a real cop but I got your attention, didn't I? His expression could easily be interpreted as "arrogant."
Okay, Richard Gere isn’t a real cop but I got your attention, didn’t I? His expression could easily be interpreted as “arrogant.”

A Day in the Life of an Officer
Now, think about the workday of a police officer. Her job assignments consist, primarily, of being dispatched to successive 911 calls. When someone calls 911 for police service, there is a tacit admission by the caller that the situation at hand has deteriorated beyond his or her control, and police are needed in order to bring the situation back under control. That is the unstated assumption that the officer has going into each situation — not that a social equilibrium needs to be maintained, but that a situation needs to be quickly and efficiently brought back under control.

Further than this, when she gets to the scene of many to most of these 911 calls, she encounters people who seek to frustrate her endeavors.

She talks to witnesses who lie in circles about not seeing anything.

She talks to suspects who lie about where they’d just been or what they were just doing.

She talks to drunk people who can’t coordinate themselves and won’t remember what she said in ten minutes’ time.

She talks to addicts who try to conceal the fact that they’re high even though involuntary tics have consumed their body.

She talks to grade school kids and teenagers who have been conditioned to mistrust or despise police.

She talks to people who lie about their identity because they have warrants or because they just want to frustrate her.

She talks to people who act nervous and take too long to answer simple questions, raising her suspicions.

She talks to people who have drugs, guns, knives, and any manner of other contraband hidden in their residence, in their vehicle, or on their person.

Now consider that the officer is doing this many times per shift — ten, twenty, maybe more encounters every day. She will quickly learn that, in order to get anything accomplished with these liars and obstructionists, she is going to have to employ tactics that in any other field would be unacceptable. She is going to have to be blunt, brusque and curt. She’s going to have to call bluffs and smokescreens and BS. She’s going to have to interrupt rambling, circular explanations. She’s going to have to look people in the eye and say, “We both know that you’re lying to me right now.”

And through it all, she will begin to develop the opposite assumption from the freshly roused partner and the guy at the water cooler — work interactions are not among peers, and people are likely not worthy of implicit trust.

Enter, You
Now, you, who I will assume is a normal, everyday citizen, comes into contact with this police officer. Even though she can probably surmise that you’re not a frequent flyer, she doesn’t know you and doesn’t enter into interpersonal contact with the same assumptions you do. Additionally, if she’s in uniform it’s possible she has a task at hand she’s focused on. Until you are a known quantity, you may be treated coolly and humorlessly.

Now, let’s take a step back. You, the partner and/or co-worker, interprets the response of this police officer through the lens of your expectations, and judge her to be arrogant. I mean, after all, she’s acting all distant and aloof and snobby, right? However, your assessment is based on your interaction in a vacuum, and likely doesn’t factor in much of anything I just said. That doesn’t mean either one of you is “wrong.” You’re coming from different places.

In closing, I’d bid you to be forgiving. This officer cannot afford to give people the benefit of the doubt, because there are only so many people you can relax your guard around in her line of work before she gets herself or someone else hurt or killed. Be gracious to her, for her burden is great.


About the author
“The Question” section brings together user-generated articles from our Facebook page based on questions we pose to our followers, as well as some of the best content we find on

, a question-and-answer website created, edited and organized by its community of users who are often experts in their field. The site aggregates questions and answers for a range of topics, including public safety. The questions and answers featured here on P1 are posted directly from Quora, and the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of P1.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Driving part 3 of probably 4

By Hal Collier

I’ll bet that all the non-police that read this Ramblings never gave much thought to what it takes to drive a police car. Trust me, it’s more than leaving the police station and driving to the local donut shop. Most cops can relate to what I’m about to say. Let’s talk about checking out your police car before starting your shift. I’ve found a half-eaten chilidog under the front seat; it would have made a great junior high science project after being there for three days. I once found a WWII hand grenade on my front seat, left by officers of the previous shift. You have to make sure that any dented fenders were reported or you get the blame and maybe days off without pay.

Ok, you hit the streets. You’re looking for trouble. Take for example a simple traffic ticket. Say the driver is late for work and trying to make up a few minutes. He runs that red light by just by a second or two. The cop who sees the driver run that red light will commit three traffic violations just to catch him and give him a ticket. Even worse, he gets the lecture on how dangerous your driving was. Hint: don’t use that as an excuse in traffic court. Judges will still find you guilty! By the way, did you thank that cop for risking his life to give you that ticket? I didn’t think so and his parents probably are married.

Here’s an oxymoron for you. An officer gives you a ticket for talking or texting on your cell phone while driving. Look in his car and you’ll see a computer sitting next to the driver’s seat. I learned to drive, type and read messages all while driving on Hollywood streets. Quite a few officers have run into parked cars while driving and typing. By the way, some cops get days off, without pay, for traffic accidents that were their fault.

Another hazard is patrol! Yea, you’re driving around and looking for that arrest that will make your captain forget you missed court last month. You see an individual you think is wanted. You turn to look at him and don’t see that traffic in front of you has stopped. I had two of those in my career! At least I wasn’t looking at some underdressed woman when I rear-ended a car, honest.

Ok, let’s get down to real police driving-getting there in a hurry. I’m talking, the adrenaline pumping, heart in your throat; did I bring another pair of underwear? It’s not always a high-speed pursuit as depicted on TV.

lapd 69 plym BelvedereOne night I was driving a 1969 Plymouth—the finest police car ever made. My longtime friend Jim Moody was the passenger. A “shots fired” call came out on the very east end of the division. I was driving down Hollywood Boulevard—ok, I was speeding. We wanted to be first on scene. A car pulls out from a side street in front of me. No problem, I’ll turn the steering wheel to the right and tap the brakes, just as I was taught in driving school. Next thing I know the ass end of my police car is in front of my engine. Our police cruiser stops with the rear bumper ten feet from a closed bar. I look at Moody; his knuckles are white as he grips the dash. Our car has stalled, I think the car is amazed that we didn’t hit anything. I finally get it started and arrive last at the call. No shots fired. I learned a lesson that night.

North on La Cienega Blvd.
North on La Cienega Blvd.

Another time I was racing to a call on La Cienega. I was driving south from Sunset, traffic was light, and I’m sailing along. La Ciengega crosses Santa Monica—big deal, right? La Cienega is a very steep hill and levels off as it crosses Santa Monica then drops down again. That’s right my police car becomes airborne. If the tires are off the ground, the steering wheel and brakes are worthless. Again, I learned a valuable lesson—slow down and live to see retirement.

Next I’ll talk about pursuit driving, code 3 driving, and driving during buy/bust operations? Hal

Ramblings by Hal

Police Burglars, part one

By Hal Collier
December 7. A day that will live in infamy! No, not that fateful day in 1941 but that day in 1981. I know what you’re saying, Hal has lost his mind, nothing eventful happened on December 7, 1981. Well, it did for me and all LAPD cops. That was the day that Jack Myers and Ron Venegas, LAPD cops, were arrested for committing burglaries on duty in uniform in Hollywood.

This Ramblings has taken a long time to write and I still find it hard to talk about it 3 decades later. This was as personnel as losing a partner and attending his funeral. I still feel the pain.

Ok, a little background. As you probably know by now, I worked Hollywood Patrol for 33 years of my career. I took pride in my being a LAPD cop and Hollywood being one of the best police divisions. I busted my butt to keep crime down and earn the respect of the citizens who paid my salary.

I also had a lot of fun and many days I couldn’t believe that they were paying me. If you didn’t have fun in this job you were doing it wrong and headed for one of those coats with long sleeves that tied in the back!

The following opinions are mine alone and certainly differ from those of the LAPD Command Staff. I was there. It happened all around me and I didn’t need a blue ribbon panel to tell me how it happened. That is, after it was discovered.

First, let me give you my opinion of the two main players. Jack Myers was a senior officer. I wasn’t fond of Jack and didn’t care for his style of police work. Ron Venegas was a very likable officer and popular among the Morning Watch Officers and Supervisors. Jack and Ron both played softball with the watch in Griffith Park on Sundays mornings. I knew Ron’s wife and kids by name and even attended a Christmas party at Ron’s house.

As I related earlier I was working a Morning Watch Foot Beat when the watch commander told me that they were disbanding the foot beat to make room for a new Burglary Alarm car. It was called the “Code 30” car. They would respond to all burglary alarms, of which in Hollywood there were many. The officers picked were Jack Myers and Ron Venegas. I’m guessing that sometime down the road the LAPD found that decision a major disaster. Venegas and Myers were close friends who both lived in Simi Valley. They worked movie jobs off duty together and I’ll bet they considered themselves good partners!

I was assigned back to my patrol car and my area was Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards with most of the major Hollywood businesses. I began to notice an increase in business burglaries in my area. I was an addict of reading the Daily Occurrence or D/O sheet. The D/O sheet listed all the crimes that occurred the day prior. I paid particular attention to crimes in my area and looked for patterns that might lead to an arrest.

So every day I’d sit in roll call and ignore the Watch Commanders speech on how the brass was going to make my job easier and study the D/O sheet. I raced to every business burglar alarm call in my area. I drove down dark alleys with lights out. Sometimes I’d park and just listen for the sound of breaking glass. I was getting frustrated and my watch commander was wondering what I was doing all night. There has to be a clue that I’m missing!

I once took a report at Lido Cleaners, a dry cleaners, where most of Hollywood Division and I had their uniforms cleaned. They were the victim of a burglary and cash was taken. Ok, this is getting personal.

I don’t know when the burglaries started but I’ll never forget the day they ended. Part 2, I’ll talk about the aftermath of those arrests. Hal

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Court, Sleeping and the Job

By Hal Collier

On my last Ramblings, I described trying to adjust to sleeping in the day time and working all night.  Most cops hated Morning Watch, but I soon fell in love with the police work that can be accomplished while the city slept.  It must be in the genes, my son has worked Morning Watch for the past 15 years.


On Morning Watch you didn’t have to deal with the regular city traffic, you just had to dodge the drunk drivers.  You don’t have the petty disputes between neighbors, “her cat digs up my daises.”  The best part, the brass was home asleep and not out interfering with the way you handled a radio call.  I spent two years on Morning Watch before my captain could put my face to a name.  That was a good thing.


Hollywood in the 70’s was a lot of fun.  You hit the streets at 11:30 PM.  You cleared for radio calls and immediately got five calls, the max.  Apparently the PM watch officers had been submarining to get off on time.  They only had a two hour window before the bars closed.


In between racing from call to call, a few “hot shot” radio calls would come out.  To non-police friends, a “hot shot” call was an emergency call demanding immediate attention. Robbery, rapes, drive by-shootings, you know the usual dull stuff.


Tiny Naylor's back in the day
Tiny Naylor’s back in the day

On a slow night, usually midweek, you could sneak in a cup of coffee at Tiny Naylor’s.  Tiny Naylor’s was a drive-in restaurant where you got car service—you know tray on your car window.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to set the tray on the ground because we got a hot shot radio call.


Weekend nights were very busy and we rushed from call to call until about four A.M.  When it slowed down, you had a chance to catch up on your log.  Again for the non-police friends, a log documented when you got the call, when you handled the call and what time you cleared the call.  It also documented what you did and who you talked to.  Now during a busy night your log was written on a small 3×5 inch scratch pad and you had to transfer it to your log later.  Many a busy night the whole night’s work was on small scraps of paper.


Working Morning Watch in Hollywood was like always being in the front of the line at Disneyland rides.  Sometimes after work it would take an hour for the adrenaline to leave your body.  I can’t believe they are paying us for having this much fun.  There were some draw backs—ok, a lot of draw backs.  Some cops couldn’t sleep during the day.  Hell, some couldn’t stay awake for the ride home.  Many a Morning Watch officer owes his life to the guy who invented the freeway lane dots known as Botts Dots.  They woke him up just before he drifted off the freeway.


LA Criminal Courts Building
LA Criminal Courts Building

The biggest curse was probably court.  Work all night, change into your Brooks Brother suit—you know the one with the C&R tags and drive downtown.  You could wear your uniform, but then you became an information officer.  Officer, can you tell how to get to?  Sometimes citizens lined up to ask you directions or questions.


In the early 70’s court was in the old Hall of Justice. I remember walking past Charlie Manson’s girls during his trial.  Soon after, they built the Criminal Courts Building (CCB) across the street.  The new court house had a check-in and officer waiting room.  If you got there early, you could lay down on the two couch like seats.  If you got there late, you had to sit in a stiff upright chair.  Now, some cops could sleep anywhere.  They removed their suit coat, shoes, gun and laid down for a nice nap.  Me, I found out early, no matter how tired I was, don’t lie down and close your eyes.  After an hour asleep I was like a drunk at a Led Zeppelin concert.


Court could be a thirty minute visit or an eight hour ordeal.  Ok, spend all night working, leave work for the drive downtown to court.  Spend eight hours waiting for your case to be called, only to be told at 4:30 PM come back tomorrow.  No problem, I’ll race home in rush hour traffic, eat a drive thru hamburger and grab a quick three hour nap and go back to work.  This was not a rare instance but a regular occurrence.


I once had a partner, Mike Brambles, who had been up for two days between work and court.  He fell asleep in Judge Lang’s Court, Division 38.  Not just asleep, but he fell out into the center aisle, passed out on the floor.  Judge Lang put him to bed in his chambers until end of the day and then sent Mike home.


Another time I had worked three nights in a row with court.  I walked out of court as the sun was setting.  I walked the three blocks to the Music Center where we had to park.  I was in a daze and couldn’t remember which level I parked my truck, eight hours earlier.  I found it after walking down two levels and everyone else had already gone home.


Just about every Morning Watch cop had a court story that the general public doesn’t know about.  Next I’ll write about “Hitting the Hole!!



Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: LA Olympics, part 2

By Hal Collier

The following story is true.  In my last Ramblings, I dealt with the some of the planning and my assignments during the 1984 Olympics in L.A.  Now let’s get down to what really went on at the Olympics!!  My three days were all at the Athletes Village at UCLA and it was before the competition started.

My first night at the Village, I was assigned to a perimeter car.  We were given a map of the village and where each fence monitor was located.  Fence monitors set off an alarm if anything touched the fence.  The first 3 hours we raced around to see if terrorists were infiltrating the village like they did in Munich in 1972.  We expected to encounter Black September members at every fence activation.  After the first fifteen false alarms, the adrenaline subsided.  We spent most of the night checking out false alarms at the fence.  Early in the morning, the athletes would get on buses to go to their training sites.  We were told not to give rides to the athletes, but what the hell, everyone did.  It was like feeding a stray cat once you started, they all wanted a ride.

1984 US Womens Olympic Shooting Team
1984 US Olympic Shooting Team

We were flagged down by two young British female athletes.  They were competing in the shooting events, first year for females in an Olympics.  We gave them a ride to their bus.  They wanted to know if we had any pins to trade.  Pin trading was a huge phenomenon at the 1984 Olympics.  I think everyone was trading Olympic pins, except me.  There were rumors that sex was offered for an LAPD badge.  The LAPD buttons on my uniform were highly wanted.  Just for the record I have both my badge and all my buttons, it’s my marbles that are missing.

My first night wasn’t that bad, they even fed us a hot meal, not a box lunch.  I’m thinking maybe I should have signed up for more days.  Then day two came.  The athlete’s buses would enter the village through the front gate and drop off the athletes.  The buses would then drive down a hill and pass the athletic field and exit the village.  My post was sitting on a metal folding chair next to the field.  As the buses would pass me they revved their engines and create a cloud of diesel exhaust.  I’m guessing the bus drivers were not pro-police.  This night sucked.  No one to talk to, no female athletes offering to trade pins, but I still got a hot meal and cash overtime, twelve hours at time and a half.

My third night I was apprehensive. Will this be another night from hell or filled with pleasant memories?  I was assigned to the back gate where athletes would walk in and be screened.  I think the purpose was that no one would smuggle in guns, bombs, or maybe some other contraband.  They had those bag screeners like you see at the airport and wands for the athletes.

I think this was my best day.  I was assigned to a screener who enjoyed her work and we would exchange pleasantries with a lot of athletes.  I couldn’t believe some of the American crap they were bringing into the village.  I saw an athlete who was really proud of a felt painting of a bull, I guess the Elvis paintings were all sold out.

Jose Cuervo Tequila photo courtesy of the beverage store
Jose Cuervo Tequila
photo courtesy of the beverage store

A lot of liquor, mostly tequila, Jose Cuervo, if I remember correctly.  For my younger readers, buy stock in tequila companies if L.A. has another Olympics.  I thought these athletes were in training.  I also saw a lot of Levi jeans, of course that was 27 years ago and who knows what will sell now, probably I-Pads or Bluetooth’s.

It was a fun night and the night flew bye.  As I said before, this was pre-competition and I guess the athletes didn’t have a curfew.  They streamed in all night.  I’ll bet the athletes that practiced shooting didn’t do very well.   Another hot meal and cash overtime.  I’ve really enjoy my three days at the Village but now I have to go back to Patrol for the next few weeks.

Next episode is about things you didn’t read in the newspapers. They were just covering the Olympic events and the athletes.


More Street Stories

Chain of Command

Who does what?

As with any para-military organization, there must be leadership. Although it is often portrayed with fair accuracy in the entertainment media, I still find lots of discrepancies in the roles played. For instance, a Hallmark Movie Channel series Mystery Woman, the lead character’s counterpoint is a police chief. Granted, this is a small town with a small department. However, a police chief should never do his own investigation. A chief’s job is administrative–glad-handing politicians to keep his budget intact and being the all-around nice guy in which the public can put their trust.

Chiefs or Sheriffs   

Bishop Police Chief Chris Carter
Bishop Police Chief Chris Carter

Chiefs or Sheriffs will have a Bachelor of Science degree at the minimum with an emphasis on Criminal Justice or Business Management. State certificates including the POST Management Certificate, the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society Leadership Development Program help the career climber as well as the POST Executive Development Course, POST Command College and the FBI National Academy. A masters of science degree in the above subjects is typically encouraged at this level of management.

Deputy Chief, Undersheriff or Commander

Under the chief or sheriff is a deputy chief or undersheriff. In very small departments the deputy chief is often called a captain or commander. At this level, these administrators are involved in managing whole divisions such as patrol and administrative services. If you are writing a story that is set in a small town, troll the internet for a department of a similar size. Usually you can find the structure which will give you an idea of the hierarchy. It matters–this past year, Kyra Sedgwick ended her seven year tenure on the series called The Closer. As the Deputy Chief, she should have been writing reports and recommendations for the chief and city council, making decisions on personnel issues and obtaining grants instead of solving crimes. As much as I like watching Sedgwick, the show was so unrealistic that I couldn’t watch it.


Santa Rosa Police Department, Ca, Lt Craig Schwartz
Santa Rosa Police Department, Ca, Lt Craig Schwartz

A lieutenant is assigned to a team, generally. Teams work the same days, thereby enhancing the team concept. A lieutenant is found at all shifts in large departments although in smaller agencies, usually only day shift and swing (afternoons). The night shift or graveyards are handled by “Watch Commanders” who are either lieutenants or acting lieutenants. This is a sergeant who is on the promotional list for lieutenant or has been assigned by an administrator.



Sergeants are the line commanders. As in the army, sergeants get most of the work done. A good patrol sergeant will listen to radio activity so he knows who is doing what. They should be available for back-up but not tied up on a lengthy report call. They need to be on hand for patrol or dispatcher direction. Administrative or detective sergeants has a different role in some ways but still are the “go to” person for line officers and civilians. They will also handle preliminaries of personnel problems, give direction and approve crime reports. Corporals are subordinate and have limited report-approving powers.


Detectives are promoted patrol officers. In larger departments, a detective may be a sergeant rank. There are also levels of detective ranking depending on promotional testing, merit, and interviews. 

Ft Bragg, Ca Police Department
Ft Bragg Police Department-California

Again, all these structures are varied by department. There are few hard and fast rules but there are some that are never violated. The chain of command is respected–or it should be–to maintain a successful resolution. “Jumping the chain” is a phrase that is often used to describe those employees who go directly to the power when they have a problem. A good leader will refer the employee to their immediate superior.

However, back in the day, it was common to jump the chain. Going to your brother in law to talk about a problem with your supervisor was normal. It led to accusations of “good old boy” systems from outsiders and can smack of favoritism, depending how the contact was handled.

If you aren’t sure how an issue would be handled, check for a “model” agency and call the appropriate ranking person. Most cops love to talk to writers about their job. Your problem may be how to shut your source up!