Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Shoes in the Street

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Every once in a while, you see a news story of a pedestrian who is hit by a car. The TV news shows a pair of shoes in the street. I was first intrigued by why the shoes were left in the street. I sadly learned that when pedestrians were hit by a car they were actually knocked out of their shoes. This is my story of shoes in the street.

As always, I’m working grave yard and it’s about 2:15 AM. I’m driving my black and white eastbound on Hollywood Boulevard as I approach the famous hot dog stand at Hollywood and McCadden. The hot dog stand is famous only to Hollywood cops, bottom feeders and dispatchers. If you needed help and gave the location as the hot dog stand, the dispatcher knew where to send help. Prostitutes, drug dealers and anything else out after 2 A.M. frequent the hot dog stand to ply their trade or support someone else’s tax-free business. When I was walking my foot beat, I made most of my arrests around the hot dog stand. Some even bought the hot dogs, I hear they were pretty good. I never had one, Pink’s had a nicer clientele.

So, as I approach the cross walk I see a pedestrian, about a 20-year-old male, walking southbound. Now, I’m in the #2 lane (2nd lane from the center) which means the #1 lane is unobstructed. I could have gone through the crosswalk without interfering with the pedestrian but I thought this would be a good opportunity to yield and check out the patrons of the hot dog stand. I stopped and my attention was on one individual who seems particularly nervous. He could likely be a candidate for an investigation.

As the pedestrian continued to cross I suddenly hear a car to my left! I only had time to say “oh!” The car hit the pedestrian at about 30 miles an hour.

I’ve heard many stories that when encountering a stressful situation your brain slows everything down. I’m here to tell that is true. I saw the car hit this poor young boy and it was all in very slow motion. I still have that image of that boy being slingshot down Hollywood Boulevard, leaving his shoes in the crosswalk.

The car that just hit this kid immediately pulled to the curb. My partner went and got the driver out and I ran to the kid lying in the middle of the street. He was still alive but not responsive. He died soon after, right in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, his shoes left in the middle of the crosswalk.

My story should end right there but unfortunately it doesn’t. A few days, later I got a phone message from some lady I didn’t know. I called and it was the boy’s mother! She bluntly asked me, “Did my son say anything before he died?”
I lied and told her, “No he didn’t say anything. He died instantly and didn’t suffer.” I still think I made the right decision.

For quite a while after that night as I approached crosswalks I feverishly scanned for pedestrians. Fail to Yield to Pedestrians in a Crosswalk became my favorite ticket. A traffic unit handled the investigation and I never heard if the driver that hit the boy was drunk or what happened.

If there is a lesson to be learned, this is it. Even if you’re in a crosswalk, watch for traffic. I see people on the news all the time in marked crosswalks that have been hit by cars. It won’t make a bit of difference if you’re in the right of way but dead!

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings Reprise: Foot Beat Stories 3

The following are a reprise of Hal’s favorite posts–Foot Beat Stories. Today’s is 3 of 4 first posted in 2013. Next week will feature the wind up of his foot beat stories and the week after, readers will enjoy new material from Hal Collier. –Thonie

I’m re-posting this as it didn’t go out over social media on Sunday as it’s supposed to. –Thonie

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

The following stories are true to best of my fading memory.  I only worked a foot beat for 3 1/2 years but boy, did I pack a lot of fun into those 42 months.  I just spent a month learning how to walk in the daylight. Now, I’m off to mid PM’s which is a little different.  I’m going to work with “Dan”—another long time foot beat officer.


At the time, Hollywood Division had two officers name Dan. One was referred to as the “crazy” Dan.  Lucky for me I worked with the other one, but there was some debate on that.  Ok, I’m going to be working in the dark. I’ve got the walk down, I can do bar and porno theater checks, but I’m going to miss London Britches and the Artisan’s Patio.


Dan was a lot different than J.J. Brown.  Dan was younger, had less patience and was quicker to anger. This should be fun and a challenge. Dan was working his way up to the Gene Fogerty style of a foot beat cop: my Boulevard, my rules and no questions.


Dan carried a straight baton just like the rest of us, but he attached a leather thong which allowed him to spin it as he walked along. It was right out of the 50’s.


My first night walking with Dan, he suggested we eat at Ernesto’s, an Italian restaurant next to the Egyptian Theater. You know, working nights might be nice. On Morning Watch we only had few places to eat, Copper Penny, Copper Skillet and Pinks if you ate before 1 A.M.


We sat in a booth at Ernesto’s and the waiter greeted Dan like a brother. He brought us each a cup of coffee, but no cream. I’ll suffer. I took a sip, it’s not coffee–it was red wine. I don’t want to spoil the mood but I don’t drink wine and switch for a cup of coffee.


A few weeks later we finish a meal at Ernesto’s, lasagna and garlic bread. I’m going to need an hour to walk off dinner. It’s Saturday night and Hollywood Boulevard is packed.  Traffic is bumper to bumper in both directions. We see this jerk in a pick-up truck let the car ahead of him move up 30 feet.  He then pops the clutch, spinning the tires then slams on the brakes.


Dan says, “I’ll show you how we handle these type of guys.”  We walk between cars and up to the truck that’s stopped. We both approach the driver’s window.  Dan reached in and removed a 40 ounce bottle of beer. Dan then grabbed the driver’s hands while I reached in to shut off the ignition. Traffic in front of us cleared and the driver popped the clutch. The truck lurched forward spilling Dan and me into the middle of Hollywood Boulevard.


The truck made a quick right turn on Mc Cadden and almost hit a guy on a motorcycle. The guy on the motorcycle is pissed and he says to Dan, “hop on” and well go get him.  Dan declines—see, he’s not the crazy one. The guy in the truck sped up and slammed into a light pole. Guess he couldn’t drive without a 40 ounce of beer between his legs.


This is where it really got fun. The guy in the truck staggered out of his now wrecked truck and was planning his escape. This stranger on a motorcycle tells the truck driver hop on, the cops are coming. The truck driver jumps on the back of the motorcycle and the motorcycle guy turns around and dumps the felon at our feet. Bet you never saw that on Adam 12. No one would have believed it. 


A week later Dan and I were standing in front of our Captain. Apparently our foot beat tactics and Boulevard Rules were not the same as department rules. We both got a notice to correct.


I learned many more lessons on walking a foot beat and now I’m ready to fly on my own, on Morning watch.


Dan and his partner Tim’s police careers were cut short a few months later when their police car was rear ended by a drunk driver. They both suffered back injuries and had to be pensioned off. We lost two good cops and a wealth Hollywood Boulevard foot beat experience.


Next chapter, it’s my foot beat and I’ll have to prove I’m worthy.     Hal 

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Code 7 with Women

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Here’s when things really changed. Around 1974/75, women were introduced to patrol. Now, I like women. My wife and daughter are women. Some of my favorite partners were women and I worked with a few women as captains and lieutenants. All great cops and people. My only complaint was that they showed their mother instincts when it came to code 7. They didn’t think that a juice dripping hamburger was all that healthy. Pink’s at 1 A.M. was out of the question and a Tommy burger was ok—but only once in a while.


What’s happening to my LAPD?

One more thing about eating with women. They usually took a doggie bag from the restaurant. Then we spent an hour driving around Hollywood looking for stray dogs or cats to give the food to. Once my partner spotted a kitten with a potato chip bag stuck on its head. There were two of LAPD’s finest chasing a kitten around the street trying to get the bag off of its head. Thank goodness this was before everyone had video cameras.

Now, when working Morning Watch (11:00 P.M. to 7 A.M.), your choices were pretty slim for fine dining on the hood of your police car. At that hour most of your food choices catered to the bar crowds. That’s when I started brown bagging. Once I brought in a big pot of my wife’s homemade chili. I shared it with my partner who said she enjoyed it but didn’t ask for seconds. The next night she made Matzo Ball soup. I declined seconds. We also ate in the police station break room, not fine dining! Before I knew it I was eating salads at Sizzler and potato skins were a no no! I was also taught to dip my fork in the salad dressing instead of pouring the dressing on my salad. Less calories. The change was probably for the better but every once in a while I feel the strong urge to eat something bad for me on the hood of my car.


The following stories all happened to me on code 7.

My first story didn’t have an interruption but had a real impact on my career! It was August 21, 1975, and I was dining at the Copper Penny at Sunset and Hudson. As preferred, I was sitting in a booth seat with a window view of my parked police car. Keep in mind this is when we only had radios in the car and if something big happened you didn’t know until you got back into the car.

After dining I get in my lowest bid official police cruiser and start the engine. The radio is abuzz with chatter. I detect an urgency in the dispatcher’s voice as she is directing units to block intersections.

The SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army-a domestic terrorist group) placed a pipe bomb under the police car of John Hall and James Bryan at the IHOP at Sunset and Orange, only six blocks from where I was eating.

See—another reason why I hated IHOP. I suppose it could have been under my car except I was seated where I could watch it. The bomb failed to detonate due to a stroke of luck. Both officers would have been killed instantly as well as quite a few diners.

For the next thirty years, I got down on one knee and looked under my police car for bombs. True story.

Next typical code 7 interruptions.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Desk Duty, part 2 of 4–Fun in the Jail

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. The names and the stories are to the best of my memory. This is the second of four parts of working the Hollywood desk. The desk was next to the infamous Hollywood Jail. A door led from the desk to the jail. This made it easy for bailouts to leave and cops to get in on a fight. Sometimes when things were slow at the desk I’d walk into the jail to see what was going on. This leads up to my story of things you will never see on TV.


I would open the jail door and asked Fitzgerald, our grumpy jailer, “Hey, Fitz. Anything going on?” 


One day Fitz says, “Hey, go back in the misdemeanor section.”


I walk back and everyone is awake. It’s about 3:30 in the morning. I announce to no one in particular, “What’s going on?”


One of the guys in a cell says, “Hey officer, watch this guy.” He points to a cell. There’s a guy sitting alone in the cell. He is shirtless and his head is wet. He’s sitting on the cell floor, cross-legged, with his hands in a prayer motion in front of his face. 


I said to him, “Ok, show me what you got.”


He stands up, walks over to his toilet, firmly places his hands on the toilet bowl rim, and does a perfect handstand. I’m impressed. He lowers his head into the toilet bowl water, maintaining his handstand. The drag queen in the next cell reaches through the cell bars and flushes the toilet. Everyone cheers and the man stands up, returns to his sitting position on the cell floor.


flushing toiletI congratulate him on his strength, poise, and balance, then ask him, “Can you do it again?” Without a word, he returns to the toilet and completes the above described task. I give him a 9.7. I deducted some points when I saw a little wobble on the handstand.


Only in Hollywood.


I show up for work one night after spending the whole day in court. My plan is to leave roll call and head to Pinks, because I haven’t eaten since the day before. Back in the old days our vending machines only contained candy bars and peanuts left over from the ‘65 riots. In roll call, I’m informed I’m assigned to the desk. I’m starving and they didn’t make food runs for the desk officers in the old days. 


About 3 A.M. I poke my head in the jail and ask Fitz if he would put an extra jail breakfast in the oven for me. All arrestee’s are fed three times a day. The meals are similar to a TV dinner, kept in a freezer, and cooked in a large oven. The breakfast meal consisted of a small sausage patty and a slice of French toast and something resembling eggs. Trust me these were nothing like the Swanson TV dinners you had in the 50’s and 60’s. They served it with coffee, not Starbucks, but some instant coffee made with warm water from the tap. The coffee foamed up when you poured the water in. 


Jail mealFitz tells me my breakfast is ready. Two bites and I understand cruel and unusual punishment. I was always taught to never leave food on your plate but I did that day. I rushed home and had a bowl of cereal with my kids while watching cartoons. Never again was I tempted to eat jail food. 


I worked with an old timer at the desk, Gerst, who lived in his car with his dog. Yea, he was a cop and I think he had the first dollar he ever made. I’m not saying Gerst was cheap but I think he considered underwear a frivolous luxury. He would go around the jail and gather up the uneaten food. He said it was for his dog, but I wasn’t sure. I felt sorry for the dog.


Once a woman came into the station to pick up her juvenile grandson. He was in a holding tank, yelling, and screaming about how he was picked on because he was black. He was going to sue everyone. The arresting officers wanted to kick his butt but remained professional. His descriptions of police officers would make a sailor blush. 


His grandmother and guardian, a polite Southern woman, heard him yelling and asked if we would release him now. Her grandson walked out into the lobby. He was about a foot taller than his her. Grandma promptly slapped him across the face and said, “Nigger, shut the f–k up.” She then apologized to the officers and grabbed her grandson by the ear. She led him out the lobby doors, still holding on to his ear saying, “Just wait until I get your black ass home.” As she walked him to her car, she was kicking him in the butt every few steps. I was glad she didn’t live in Hollywood. I know there was a child abuse call about to occur. It brightened everyone’s day at the desk.  


Old lady on phoneMrs. Croft used to call the desk all the time. I never met her in person but it was obvious she was lonely. If I had the time, I would talk to her. After a while, she would ask for me by name. Once she promised to buy me and my wife a new Cadillac. I knew that wasn’t going to happen because she lived in a flop motel on Western. She was nice, just down on her luck.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: LA Olympics, part 3


By Hal Collier

This is the the final installment of my experiences during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.  The stories are true and only first names will be used.  My three days working at the Village are over and I’m back to working patrol.  I’m still working twelve hours shifts, which means fifteen hour days away from home.


1984 Olympics  photo by business week
1984 Olympics
photo by business week

The competition is about to start and the TV stations are warming up for hours of coverage.  I’m going to miss most of the coverage.  I’m either going to be sleeping or working, with the exception of my days off.  I saw less of the 84 Olympics than any Olympics since I was 12.  A shame since it was in my own town.


Some good things came from the Olympic Villages.  The Department was concerned about terrorists so they placed sharpshooters, Counter Assault Teams, (CAT) on the roof tops throughout the village.  Now, most were men sitting on the roofs with a high-powered rifle, equipped with a scope and a radio.  They would sit up there for hours with nothing to do but look for trouble.


They found it looking into the windows of the dorms.  They soon learned which dorms held the women athletes.  Ok, they weren’t exactly peeping toms, but some of the European female athletes are accustomed to walking around naked.  Thank god the Russian and East Germans boycotted these Olympics.  Have you ever seen a naked female East German athlete!  If an officer observed a scantily dressed female athlete, he would radio to his partner on the next rooftop.


The problem came when the first officer tried to pinpoint to the second officer which window to look into.  The dorms were 12 to 15 stories high and 7 to 12 windows wide.  One officer devised a system.  Count down from the top and left to right.  3 down and 2 to the left meant, 3 floors down from the top and 2 to the left.  Brilliant isn’t it.  I’ll bet that officer never promoted, he was bred to be a street cop.  This system was later used and taught at the police academy to locate bad guys.  3 down and 2 to the right, I’ll bet you never read that in the L.A. Times did you.


The nights seemed long due to the lack of radio calls.  The citizens either didn’t call in the chronic noise complaints or our communication division did take them.  Either way we had plenty of time to drive around and wave.  I was lucky, I worked most nights with Chuck, another old timer.  Chuck and I would eat on the hood and use our lunch break to jog.  Eating on the hood meant a Pinks hot dog or some other fast food that we ate on the hood of our police car. A well learned clue, eat after you jog, especially Pinks.  Sometime during the middle of the night we would change into our workout clothes and go for a 3 1/2 mile run.  Chuck carried a 2″ revolver in a sock for protection. Those terrorists are everywhere.


We were allotted 1 hour for our lunch break.  One night a Sergeant approached us and said we took 65 minutes for lunch and that wasn’t acceptable. He was another building boy on his way up the chain of command.  We told him we could skip a shower after our run if he wanted, but he decided that 5 minutes was not that big of a problem.


Drunk Drag Queen  photo by
Drunk Drag Queen
photo by

I vividly remember an incident on Santa Monica near Western.  A call came out about a 390/415 women.  That’s drunk and disturbing the peace.  We’re close and respond.  Standing in the middle of Santa Monica in front of Sherries Restaurant is a drunk drag queen.  He has a beer bottle in his hand and is yelling obscenities at everyone.  The restaurant patrons have a free floor show, no cover charge.


I get out of our police car and order him to drop the bottle.  He says something about my family heritage as I approach.  I’m either going to knock the bottle out of his hand or knock him to the ground.  As I get closer I hear a popping noise and see the queen fall to the ground.  Chuck tased him from just behind me.  End of problem.  Chuck had the nick name of “Sparkey.”


The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics were a huge success.  The city made a lot of money, the media praised the LAPD for its handling of the Olympics.  It was a true highlight for the men and women of my police department.


The only dark spot was when a Metro officer, Jimmy Pearson, tried to be a hero by removing a bomb from an athlete’s bus at LAX.  The only problem was that he placed the bomb on the bus to gain attention to himself.


Lean years would follow for the LAPD with the media beating us up until the North Hollywood Bank shootout.  That was when everyone really got to see live on TV what cops do, we run to the gun fire when everyone else is running away.


Olympic Village pin photo by ebay
Olympic Village pin
photo by ebay

Anybody want to buy some Olympic pins?  I found out my dad had collected some.


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