View from the Tower

View from the Tower: Kevin Cooper


110083 met cooper w 3.jpg
Kevin Cooper listens during his preliminary November 1983 hearing in Ontario where he stood accused of murders in Chino Hills in June of 1983. (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin staff file photo)

We’ve all heard the story about Kevin Cooper (AKA David Troutman). He’s the convicted killer who escaped from the California Institution for Men (CIM) State Prison in Chino, California only to break into a home in Chino Hills, and kill five people. Chino Hills was then a small community about three miles from the prison. I worked at CIM then and here’s the real story behind his escape.


Cooper was an escapee for a Pennsylvania mental facility. His crimes there were non-violent property crimes (burglary). He fled to California where he was arrested and convicted for burglary. He received a 4-year sentence. He changed his name to Troutman which oddly escaped notice by the police and California Department of Corrections (CDC).


California State Men’s Prison at Chino (CIM)


He sat in county jail for a while before he arrived by bus to CIM June of 1983. Back then, all non-violent offenders were housed in the minimum-security yard. This was the original 1941 honor ranch facility envisioned by Mr. Kenyon Scudder in the 1940’s as a “prison without walls,” or an honor ranch with bars. It was part of his plan to rehabilitate criminals through hard work, sunshine, and humane treatment. Didn’t work then, or now. Cooper was sent from our Maximum Security building to Minimum Security solely based on the paperwork designating him as a simple thief. It was a common practice.


The Minimum yard consisted of large concrete dormitories, some of which had cells, but most didn’t. It had no guard towers but did have a three-foot-high barbed wire cattle fence perimeter. That’s it. The facility used to keep a decent herd of dairy cows which provided fresh milk to CIM and other facilities. Hence the barbed wire fence. Not exactly except-proof, but a boon for David Troutman/Kevin Cooper.

He was there exactly one night.

When the fog rolled in (which got very thick there), he rolled out! He just stepped over the fence to freedom.

CIM was surrounded by over 2,000 acres of prime farmland (much of which was sold to developers for housing just before I left in 2007). When Cooper left, southern Chino was mostly an agricultural area with corn fields everywhere. Easy place to hide. A lumber mill sat just up the road. Nor were there many street lights to contend with.


June 9, 2003 at the West End Substation to identify suspect in. Chino Hills murders as Kevin Cooper. (Walter Richard Weis / Staff Photographer)

In the darkness of southern Chino, Cooper hid in the lumber mill. Then he made his way to Chino Hills where he committed those ghastly and brutal murders. As soon as he was missed at the next head count, we set out to find him. Mutual assistance was provided by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s and the City of Chino Police. We all wanted this guy who we thought was escaped burglar David Troutman.


After he was arrested in Northern California, his real identity was discovered.

Midge Carroll was the interim Warden who had been assigned to CIM to look into staff corruption. She got the heat for Cooper’s escape. She didn’t deserve it, frankly. Wrong place at the wrong time.

Of course, the state looked for someone to lynch besides our warden. So, they summoned the entire Records staff into the San Bernardino Grand Jury. Nothing came of theat. Records merely followed established protocol.

prison towerAs a result of this, things changed: to this day, all inmates are sent to maximum security until such time as their background paperwork is received into Records for review. Also, a 12-foot-high chain link fence with razor wire surrounds the Minimum yard, and armed gun towers were installed.

Although the fence remains, all the gun towers except sally port towers have been deactivated due to electrified fence installations throughout CIM. It is much more efficient and a whole lot cheaper. The only bad result is the matter of discretion was removed when the fences went up. Before an officer could either wound an escapee (leg shot, etc.) or head shot. It was the officer’s call.

The fence just kills. I never liked that.

The Call Box

The Call Box: The 450 Lb. Sumo Wrestler

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

polic-call-box-pedestal-lapd-gamewell-DCAL2786_dt1This tale was told to me many years ago by Dick Moody, a friend and classmate. While assigned a Central radio car (downtown L.A.), he and his probationary partner received a call, “390-415,” (drunk disturbance) at an upscale restaurant in “J” town—the Japanese version of Chinatown—and a major tourist attraction. It is directly across the street (s) of the Police Administrative Building. Upon arrival, they found an honest to God Japanese sumo wrestler destroying the restaurant. His weight was later determined at 450 pounds. Even without knowing his exact weight, Dick was worried as the sumo weighed more than the two officers combined.


When confronted however, the sumo became very respectful and compliant and accompanied them to the sidewalk. Where he began to take off all, and I mean all of his clothes. He then climbed naked to the top of the police car and squatted cross legged behind the “roof reds” Any attempt to stop his actions, he just “brushed” off.


sumo wrestlerBy now, a growing crowd of mostly Japanese tourists had gathered to watch the spectacle. It is my sincere belief that there is a hard and fast rule stating every Japanese tourist must have at least one camera with which to photograph any or all moving objects—or stationary objects—or each other—or any combination of the three. At a moment’s notice, the incident had now become the ultimate photo op.


A sergeant and several more cars had arrived and all were conferring. The crowd stayed respectfully quiet, politely applauds any and all movements by sumo or police. It had become sidewalk theatre at its best.San Diego lightbar Someone (hopefully in jest) suggested since the jail entrance is only several yards away, they leave him in place and drive very carefully to the booking area. That suggestion is soon shot down and the decision is made to have half the officers push with the balance pulling. It works, accompanied by many “ohhs” and “ahhs”’ from the crowd.

The restaurant produced a tablecloth as a makeshift sarong. The sumo bows, returned by the crowd. Due to the fact that his arms were too heavy, officers could not get them behind him. His wrists were also too large for cuffs so the entire bunch followed by the applauding crowd marched several hundred yards to the jail.


Never a dull moment.

Writer's Notes

What’s Going On?

By Thonie Hevron

PSWA Award singleI’ve just returned from the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA) Conference in Las Vegas. It’s a member-driven conference focused on those who write in the field of public safety. Active and retired personnel from police, fire, EMS, and dispatch make up the bulk of the population. Civilians who write crime fiction and technical public safety articles/books are also a large component of this diverse group. City cops—from Chicago PD to rural sheriff’s departments, FBI, military enforcement from all branches, probation and parole, fire officers—paid and volunteer as well as emergency medical personnel are active members. The breadth of experience is remarkable.

We gather annually to share our information. This year’s event spanned four full days for those who wished to attend Thursday morning’s optional “improve your writing skills” workshop taught by three published authors. This included a critique of previously submitted manuscripts. During the conference, attendees participated in numerous panels and attended presentations on topics such as “Anatomy of a Murder,” “Investigating the 2001 Anthrax Attacks,” “Writing True Crime,” “How to Write for the Web” and craft topics like “Editing Your Work” and “An Examination of Point of View”. Several time slots were set aside for meet and greets with editors, other authors and three publishers.

Aside from the plane trip from hell (check out my Facebook page), arriving a day and half late—and missing my own panel on “Promotion,” I still had Saturday. The cut-rate airline new to our regional airport has a very limited schedule which necessitated leaving the conference early. Hence, I only had one day in Las Vegas. Sigh. Still, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I pitched my fourth novel to a publisher I’d never heard of before but was interested in my story. The networking alone is fabulous. Because of PSWA, I’ve had facetime with an FBI profiler, SWAT masters (both in city and FBI), homicide and vice detectives, several of whom had been undercover. I can’t pass up tapping these guys on the shoulder, asking them to read my work for authenticity—in exchange for Beta reading, critiques and blurbs (who’d a thunk anyone would want my name on their book?).

So when I got word that I placed second in the annual PSWA Writing Contest for unpublished novel, I was bowled over. Imagine these esteemed members choosing my book, With Malice Aforethought. Second! Whew!


News about With Malice Aforethought

My publisher, Billie Johnson of Oak Tree Press, is recovering from a serious health issue. She and another staffer are working on the back log of projects already in progress. Oak Tree isn’t accepting any new submissions until January. At this time, I have a signed contract but haven’t sent my manuscript in. I’ve decided to use the next month or two to polish some of the uneven parts of the story. My time frame to get it to Oak Tree is September 1. From there, I’ll keep you posted as I find out more.


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: More Foot Beat Stories

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

My apologies for posting this and Hal’s last in the wrong order. This should have been “Foot Beat Stories One” and his previous post should have gone second. I promise I’ll do better with “Foot Beat Three” and Four. –Thonie

The following story is true and most of the officers are real live cops, some are legends and some fall into the infamous category.  I often say the best of all my jobs on the LAPD was when I worked a Hollywood Boulevard foot beat.  That’s not easy to say: I was a Sergeant for 12 years, a Senior Lead, (Community Relations Officer) for 11 years—both good jobs but my 3 1/2 years as a foot beat officer were the best.


Most of the names are real Hollywood cops and most of the stories are true.  Some were passed down by other Hollywood cops and they might be legends.  That’s in case some ACLU attorney is looking for a civil rights violation.


The foot beat cop of the 50″s 60’s & early 70’s were the toughest cops in the division.  They ruled their beat with an iron fist, with the emphasis on fist.  They didn’t have radios.  If they got in a fight, they won or lost their life.  Foot beat cops walked their area every day and knew the store owners, pimps, drug dealers and pan handlers all by name and those same people all knew his name.  If a store owner was having a problem with an individual he would tell the foot beat cop and the problem disappeared, don’t ask me how.



If you ever watched the TV series “The Blue Knight” or read the Wambaugh novel, that was a tame version of what a foot beat cop was.


First the legends of Hollywood foot beat cops:  Gene Fogerty. I didn’t know Gene very well and never worked with him.  He was the typical old time foot beat cop.  He ruled Hollywood Boulevard and no one had any doubts who’s boulevard it was.  I was told that Gene never paid for anything.  He ate for free, shopped in the boulevard stores and walked out saying “foot beat gratuity.”  Those days were gone when I came on. We were told in the academy that a free cup of coffee led to corrupt cops.  Come on, my standards are higher than 10 cents, the price of a coffee in 1971.  Throw in a glazed donut and I might consider a bribe.  Just kidding, I was never big on eating donuts.


One of Fogerty’s regular partners was Jim Conrad, a former boxer.  Together they handled anything and everything.  I was once told that a street person walked up behind Conrad and tapped him on the shoulder.  Conrad felt the guy was too close to his gun, spun around and knocked him out cold.  Police work in the 60’s was a lot different.


As you already know and are tired of hearing, is that I worked Morning Watch for the first 14 years I was on the job. That’s 11:30 PM to 7 AM. I only saw the Mid PM foot beat for a few hours before they went home.



In 1977, Hollywood Boulevard was out of control on Morning Watch after 2 A.M.  We had two businesses in the area of Hollywood & Highland, that were open all night.  The “International Hot Dog Stand” known by all cops as just the hot dog stand and “Danielle’s.”  The hot dog stand was just that, a small hot dog stand, but it was open all night and behind it was a dark parking lot perfect for dealing drugs or any other crime you can think of.  Danielle’s was a coffee shop which catered to drag queens as we called them in the un-politically correct ‘70’s.  I always thought it curious that Marilyn Monroe’s star was right in front of Danielle’s, a drag queen hangout.  Danielle’s is now a McDonalds’.


The drag queens would eat at Danielle’s, then go to work on Highland.  By work I don’t mean that they were setting out traffic cones for Cal-Trans, they were collecting money for a service for which they paid no taxes or Social Security.  A Drag Queen’s overhead was the cost of their clothes and whatever they stuffed into their bras, usually yesterday’s dirty socks.  No kidding.


Anyway when the rest of Los Angeles closed up, Hollywood and Highland was just starting to go strong.  I approached my Lieutenant and asked if he ever considered a Morning Watch foot beat?  He cocked his head to the side, somewhat like my dog does when I talk to her, and he asks, “What did you have in mind?”  I laid out my plan and the following month I was told I would be working a Morning Watch foot beat.  I was then asked who I wanted to work with.  Holy cow, I was never ever asked who I wanted to work with.


I selected Randy for my partner.  Now Randy was not the easiest cop to work with. In fact half the cops on the watch didn’t like Randy and he felt the same about them.  I picked Randy because he worked. All I needed to do was keep him on a short, tight leash.


Most people think that walking a foot beat is just walking along and watching for crime.  I thought so, too.  I was told that I needed some foot beat experience.  Let’s see: I have 7 years on the LAPD and I’ve been walking since I was around one.  My childhood records have been sealed so I’m guessing.


The next month I’m going to be assigned to work a Mid Day foot beat.  Mid Day, that’s when the sun and all those citizens who pay my salary are out.  Crap.   I going to learn foot beat techniques from a Hollywood Legend, J.J. Brown.  J.J. took over the the Mid Day foot beat when Fogerty retired.  J.J. had been walking a foot beat since before I was a rookie.  This should be fun.  Next chapter, I’m learning how to walk all over again.


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings Reprise: Foot Beat Stories

By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired

We are happy that 35-year veteran Hal Collier is sharing his ‘stories behind the badge’ with us. This was originally posted 7/24/2013. Thought you might enjoy it again.–Thonie

The following stories are true and I’ll use real names as long as it doesn’t get anyone indicted or divorced.  Several posts ago, I talked about how my favorite job on the LAPD was walking a foot beat.  I never worked Vice but I did do a three month undercover tour in an elite West Bureau unit whose chain of command was a sergeant, then the Bureau Deputy Chief.  I still had more fun on the foot beat than any other job.

You ever watch a movie or TV show and the Captain threatens the officer that he will have him pounding a foot beat?  I’d have volunteered in a heartbeat.  I snowed my Lieutenant into letting me walk a Morning Watch foot beat, but first I have to learn how to walk a foot beat.  They assign me to Mid Day Watch with J.J. Brown.  Cool, J.J. is a Hollywood legend on the Boulevard.  He’s been walking for over 28 years, so how hard could this be?

I show up for work like I’m working a radio car, I carry my 40 lb. gear bag with riot helmet, extra ammo, tools, street guide and every report known to the LAPD.

J.J. just laughs at me and says, “We walk little lighter!”  My first lesson, we only need one traffic citation book, one parking ticket book and one handheld radio.  The radio was a Dumont and it only worked on a nice day without any tall buildings between you and the radio tower on Mt. Lee.  Everything you needed, you carried in your pockets or on your belt.  Hats were a must, department policy and you carried a baton which often became your best friend in a fight.

We get out of the car and J.J. asks, “Where’s your flashlight?”  Lesson 2:  You need a flashlight for dark bars and the very dark porno theaters.  Ok, I’ve got my pockets stuffed, I’m ready to start walking.  J.J. said, “Where are you going?”  I’m starting to walk eastbound with traffic.  Lesson 3: Foot beat officers always walk against traffic.  This walking might be harder than I thought.

J.J. and I start walking, facing traffic.  I’m thinking how cool I must look in my fresh uniform and in front of all these business people and tourists.  Three buildings later J.J. grabs me by my Sam Brown Belt and says, “Slow down, we’re going to be walking for the next 6 hours. You’re walking like your late for dinner.”  J.J. tells me, “You walk at a much slower pace and stop every so often.”  OK, I’m wondering if I need to write all this down.  J.J. is very patient with me.  I feel like a rookie.  If I find myself walking too fast I stop and find J.J. 30 feet behind me and laughing.  I’ll learn, maybe.

I soon find that J.J. knows everyone on Hollywood Blvd and everyone knows him.  We stop at various businesses and J.J. introduces me to the owners or managers.  I have worked Hollywood for over seven years and I don’t know any of these people.  We stop at London Britches, a clothing store and J.J. introduces me to the manager.  I don’t remember her name but I’ll never forget that smile. She was gorgeous.

I remember another group of businesses, Artisans’ Patio.  This young sales clerk walks out to talk to J.J.  She is also very pretty, I’m beginning to like this Day Watch foot beat.  J.J. is talking with the young lady and I glance over, she is wearing a white cotton full length dress.  When she stands in the sunlight I can see that she isn’t wearing anything under her dress and I mean nothing.  J.J. asks, “Ready to go?”

I said “Ah, not just yet, I have to, ah, catch my breath.”

J.J. also introduced me to some of the Boulevard people, Bill Conkey & Tillie who were street people.  J.J. and the other foot beat officers took care of them.  Giving them money, buying them clothes and taking them for medical care.  You don’t see that much anymore.  The less friendly street people are advised of the rules of Hollywood Boulevard, known as the “Boulevard Rules.”

Remember the movie, “Pretty Women” where female prostitutes worked Hollywood Boulevard?  Boulevard Rule #1, no whores on Hollywood Boulevard.  They were always politely directed to Sunset.  The tourists were on Hollywood Boulevard.  I soon learned that there were all kinds of rules.  Businesses couldn’t put signs on the sidewalks, no blaring music and most important don’t piss off the foot beat cops.  My second day, we did bar checks and wrote parking tickets.

The Nest Bar was on Hollywood Boulevard and was a known biker hangout.  Not so much on day watch but at night the bikers and the cops were always in conflict.  Parking regulations for motorcycles were simple.  Back tire must touch the curb.  If a foot beat cop can slide a thin piece of paper between the back tire and the curb, the motorcycle got a parking ticket.

I was told that on occasion a passing car would throw something at the foot beat officers.  The foot beat cop would write down his license plate and issue him a parking ticket.  The motorist found out six months later when he tried to renew the registration to his car.  I never did that or saw it done, could be a legend, I just don’t know.

Bar checks—how hard could that be?  Well, you don’t just walk into a dark bar from the sunshine of the Boulevard.  Pause inside the door and let your eyes adjust to the light.  One officer walks to the back and the other stays by the front door.  The foot beat officers didn’t enforce ABC (Alcohol, Beverage & Control) violations, like serving a drunk or bugs in a bottle. We mostly wanted the owners and patrons to know that the cops were around.

My favorite bar was the Tourist Trap.  The Tourist Trap was a dive and certainly not for tourists.  It was a bar frequented by black pimps and drug dealers.  I loved walking to the back where the pool table was.  I would stand next to the pool table, in front of the pocket where the pimp was going to shoot his next shot.  They always missed the shot.

There were other bars on Hollywood Boulevard, like The Powerhouse, The Alley bar, The Frolic Room and a few others I have forgotten.  There were also a couple of porno theaters.  The Cave comes to mind.  It had a live strip show during the day that packed the house.  Porno theaters are not my cup of tea.  They all have the same smell and sticky floors. Use your imagination.

I remember one girl who approached us walking on the Boulevard.  She was sweet and I thought, what a nice girl, I’ll bet her parents are proud.  Later that day I caught her show at the Cave.  Now, I hope her parents don’t know.

I enjoyed working with J.J. a Hollywood Boulevard Foot Beat legend.  J.J. has read this chapter and approved its contents.

Next chapter: The following month I’m assigned to work mid PM’s. A different set of Blvd rules and new partners…

The Call Box

The Call Box: Perceptions

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

Perception—an interesting word as any police officer will tell you. The luxury of calm reflection is not always possible. Too often, it is “act and react.” What you think you see and hear is not always what you get. With that in mind, I give you—

The Screaming Woman

I was a uniformed sergeant assigned to the 77th Street Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. It is a high crime area of South LA. I am working the night watch and am in my black and white patrol car parked on a nearly deserted restaurant parking lot on Manchester Boulevard, a main thoroughfare. Parked next to me, driver door to driver door is a uniformed traffic sergeant we will call, “Rudy.”

We are having a conversation about who knows what. It is late and quiet, the streets are empty. A speeder goes by eastbound toward the freeway. Rudy later guestimated his speed at 75 mph plus. Tally ho and away goes Rudy with me right behind. It took several miles but Rudy “lit him up” and the car pulled over immediately.

Rudy stopped directly to his rear with me behind. We are both out and up toward the driver’s side. As Rudy gets to the front of his patrol car, the sound of a woman screaming takes him to the passenger side of the speeder’s vehicle.                                      

As I get to the left rear, the driver jumps out screaming something I can’t understand. He’s flailing his arms while running toward me. He tries to push past me to follow Rudy. I can’t allow that, so I grab his right shoulder but he spins out of my grip. I grab him again and he turns to face me screaming unintelligibly while still flailing. Even though smaller, he was very strong and determined to get by.

As a police officer, I carried a “sap” or blackjack. It was now in my hand and I smacked him behind his left hear. He went down like he’d been shot, first to his knees, then fell on his face.

I then approached Rudy. “What have we got?”

“She’s having a baby and it’s coming right now. Call for a G-unit (ambulance).”

Which I did.


The baby, however, would not wait and Rudy delivered while I assisted mostly by giving unneeded advice. The entire time, while waiting for the ambulance, all I could think was, “I cold-cocked daddy.” How do I explain that?

When the ambulance arrived, the too charge, pronouncing mother and child in good condition. They revived “daddy” and treated the lump on his head. As soon as he found out momma and baby were fine, he actually apologized for “making me hit him.” He had been screaming in Romanian or Lithuanian—he was so excited, he forgot to speak English.

A big relief.

Nowadays there would be a major investigation of “use of force” with statements, photos, deposition and on and on—

Mine was handled by a line in my log: “Assisted 12TL30 with birthing a baby.”



More Street Stories

Donut County Cop: Cop Brain

 Link to original post on 

10 Signs You Definitely Have Cop Brain

Written by 

About the Author


Random thoughts of a suburban cop at a department bordering a major US city…because blogging is cheaper than therapy.



The Call Box

The Call Box: My Short Kidnapping Career

Part 2 of 2

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

As I was formulating my plans I couldn’t help but think of “the Fortress” as I had called it. It was that in every sense of the word. It took up and entire city block and stood there looking like “Half Dome” at Yosemite. It was imposing, formidable, and let’s add insurmountable. We will see about that.

Before the day was out, I acquired a photo copy of a Times employee’s pass, which now bore my photo and the name, George Hearst—Patty’s father and Chandler’s major rival as the editor of the Examiner. I figured if I was captured, it would really piss them off.

I called in two of my teams and laid out the plan. Team one, “The Suits,” would try to talk their way in or if unable to do that, enter however they could. Team two, “The Window Washers,” would brazen their way in. I would bluff my way through Security. We would try to get close enough to touch Chandler and tell him he “had been taken.”

The next morning—in a suit, of course—and carrying a folder stenciled in large letters, “LA Times London Bureau—” Now let me pause here for a moment. As any cop can tell you, an air of confidence is all important, especially when you are going somewhere you shouldn’t or that has been denied to you. You cannon, repeat, cannot be hesitant or timid but must act with authority. Maybe even a bit of arrogance and superiority. “Stand back, I’m coming through and don’t even think of questioning me.”

Which is exactly what I did, flashing my “ID” while talking to the person next to me as though we were old friends.

So far, so good. I’m on the elevator but the floors are not marked. I don’t know where Notions or Lingerie is but I’m willing to bet the boss man has a top floor corner office.

The top floor is executive country. There is a receptionist in the hall as I exit but I ignore her and turn toward the northwest corner. Anything on the south would overlook a poorer section of downtown. Northeast is China Town but northwest is Civic Center.

Yeah, there it is. Outer over-sized door open to the hall with a tough looking old biddy guarding Chandler’s closed office door.

So far, so good—again. Courage, my boy. Breeze right past her with “He’s expecting me.” I opened his office door, entered. Even though it is the largest, fanciest office I have ever seen, he is not there.

All right, now quickly, plan B. Plan B? I barely had a plan A. And then to save the day, at that moment, Otis Chandler walked in not 10 seconds behind me with the biddy trying to explain who I was—followed by my window washers carrying a step ladder and bucket. Just like we planned. Yeah—I touched his shoulder.

I introduced myself and the team. Gave him the chief’s regards and informed him he was kidnapped, assassinated or whatever. He tried to talk but just stammered and sputtered, which I took as “Well played, lads. Give the Chief my best. Tell him he was right as usual and fortunate to have such clever and ingenious chaps such as yourselves working for him. Jolly good show.” Or at least, that’s what I thought he would have said if he could talk.

Back at the office, we laughed as we recounted what happened. “The Suits” were stopped at several points but then went to the loading dock and got in there. They got to the office about 2-3 minutes after we left. The “window washers” just walked in. Nobody even looked at them.

I discovered there was no official form to cover “the kidnapping of a newspaper publisher by police personnel.” One sheet of paper, single spaced, no embellishment to tell what we did, phony ID attached and I gave it to the captain. I came back from the chief several days later with one word in the upper right corner—“Wow.”


Speaking of kidnapping, “Intent to Hold” is an element of kidnapping which is the primary crime in my second novel Intent to Hold. Click on the link to check out the sample on


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: More on Bombs

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD


If you respond to a good suspicious package call, you have to cordon off a 300-foot perimeter. That’s large in a dense area like Hollywood. We closed major streets, denied employees access to their work locations and more importantly they couldn’t get to Starbucks!  We basically pissed off the citizens who will vote for my next pay rise.


Building evacuations might be required but we usually leave that to the manager or boss of the targeted location. Most businesses don’t want to shut down, so they tell their employee’s to remain at work. To some money was more important than their employees’ safety.


Schools were different, the principal would send the kids out of the buildings in a flat minute. I once received a bomb threat at a private high school. Before I arrived the principal had sent most of the students’ home. It was a test day; did the caller sounded like a student? Of course there wasn’t a bomb! The next week when a bomb threat was called in the principal kept everyone in their classroom.


Here’s one for the books. I respond to a suspicious package at a residence. The lady tells me she was delivered a package at her house by the U.S. Post Office. The name on the package was not hers and she didn’t recognize the sender.  She took the package to the local post office and explained that the package was suspicious. The post office clerk told her to take it home and call the police, “It might be a bomb!” The lady put the possible bomb in the trunk of her car and drove back home and called the police.

No bomb and the bomb technician said he would have a serious talk with the local post office.


This still makes me mad. Reserve police officers are volunteer cops who go through training and work one day a month as a cop. Now I worked with a lot of reserves and loved them. They took the same risks as me, all for the pay of one uniform cleaning a month. We got a call of a suspicious package at a large apartment building. We were searching the area behind the building when the reserve officer spots a suitcase. He immediately drops down to one knee and opens the suitcase. Thank goodness it was empty or my kids would be writing this Ramblings.


After, we had a long discussion in a vacant Hollywood parking lot.

Next week: 9/11/2001

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Bombs part 2


By Hal Collier, retired LAPD

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


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

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




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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


%d bloggers like this: