One of my passions during my law enforcement career was officer safety and I preached it at every opportunity. Officer safety is a philosophy not a program; programs fail, and you can’t fail at officer safety. It is all about situational awareness. In terms of cognitive psychology, situational awareness refers to a decision-maker’s dynamic mental model of his or her evolving task situation. In other words, what you perceive, and your response is all about experience vs. the situation. It all starts at the threshold of the event. What do I have? Do I understand what I have? Can I handle the situation/event with what I have at my immediate disposal?
A good example was a radio call of a robbery in progress at a bank. As a training officer and his probationer rolled up to the front of the bank an armed suspect with a shot gun exited the front door. He saw the officers and immediately dropped the weapon. Back at the station the probationer asked the training officer why he hadn’t shot. He said he did not observe the suspect’s left shoulder drop or the barrel of the shot gun swing in their direction. If any of those two events had occurred, he said he would have shot. The training officer asked the probationer why she hadn’t shot, her answer, “’Cause you didn’t.”
Another point I would emphasis is “partners can not get stupid at the same time, ever!” On the LAPD, the majority of patrol is conducted with “A” or two officer patrol cars. There are very few “L” or one officer patrol cars. On smaller agencies, “L” cars are the norm. Depending on the patrol policies of the agency, two or more “L” cars can be dispatched to a radio call, depending on the seriousness of the call. So, the point is made regardless. Cool heads must prevail, or partners will suffer the negative consequences of an internal/external investigation, lawsuit or termination. I responded to an officer involved shooting in Rampart in ’92. Because of the officer’s bill of rights, there are few questions me as a supervisor can ask. Before I asked the questions, one of the officers involved said, “Sarge, we didn’t get stupid at the same time. We didn’t get stupid at all. We just want you to know that.” They displayed effective controlled fire and communicated throughout the event. Guess they were listening at roll call training.
“O.W.B.E” or Over Whelmed by Events is not an option. Stay in control is the overall theme here. For some reason in critical situations that I have been in, I visualize a light switch. Who is going to turn it off? Is it my switch? Is this it, and is this how it ends? No, you work the problem because there is always something else to do. I have often said that if the light switch is turned off, it’s because, “I didn’t see it coming.”
In training, I put LAPD on the chalk board and ask the officers if they are willing to die for these letters? Next, I put a street gang name on the board and ask why a banger can take multiple gunshot hits and live? Because he willing to die for his gang and will continue to fight to the end. That’s what he lives for—expecting the worst. He expects the worst!
Most coppers don’t have that mind set going into a critical situation. A good example was a sergeant I worked for at Northeast Division in 1977. He rolled up on a ‘415 man with a gun’ call at a bar and as the sergeant entered the bar, alone, he confronted the man and was immediately shot. I am going to quote the sergeant. “I got shot and said to myself, well I’ve been shot so I guess I’m supposed to fall down.”
And that is what he did. He said he was lucky the guys didn’t stick around to see if he was dead.
I hope this ROLL CALL sends a message and stimulates some critical thinking.
By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired We are happy that 35-year veteran Hal Collier is sharing his ‘stories behind the badge’ with us.
A Practical Joke
This joke has been going around the police stations for decades. The first time I saw it done was early 1971. You need a relatively new probationer, a kid who obeys his senior officers and still has that desire to serve the public that pays his salary. He also doesn’t want to get into trouble for kissing off a citizen. I personally participated in about three variations of this joke.
Ok, the scene is the front desk of any police station. A senior desk officer is working alone. A probationer happens to walk by. The senior officer asks the probationer to watch the desk while he goes to the bathroom. Ok, the phone rings and the probationer answers,
Probationer: “Good morning, Hollywood Police Station, may I help you?”
Caller: “Yea, I want to report a theft.”
Probationer: “What was stolen?”
Caller: “Yea, from my swimming pool!”
Probationer: “How much water?”
Caller: “30,000 gallons.”
Probationer: “How did someone steal 30,000 gallons of water?”
Caller: “I was in Europe for a month on business and when I got home my swimming pool was empty.”
Ok, the probationer begins to think the caller might be a Hollywood nut, waiting for a job at city hall.
Probationer: “How could anyone steal 30,000 gallons of water?”
Caller: “Look I pay a lot of taxes, including your salary. Are you going to do something or do I have to call my friends down at City Hall? Do you know how much 30,000 gallons of water costs?”
The probationer begins looking around the station for a senior officer to bail him out of this call. Of course no one is around. The plan is working.
Caller: “I think I know who took my water!”
Probationer: “Oh who?”
Ok, the hook has been set. Now all you have to do is reel the probationer in.
Caller: “I’ve been having a dispute with my neighbor down the street and I think he took my pool water while I was in Europe.”
Probationer: “What makes you think he took your water?”
Caller: “I was walking my dog by his house yesterday and I saw water coming out from under his garage door.”
This is where the probationer catches on, but not always. The first time I was aware of this joke, they made a sketch of an officer standing outside a garage door. He was scratching his head, with water coming from under the garage door behind him. They presented it to him at the division Christmas party.
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.
Hal is a thirty-five year veteran of LAPD. We are pleased he is sharing his stories with us.
The following story is true. I’ll use only first names to protect the embarrassed. My last ramblings dealt with good arrests that resulted from luck. Most officers have an arrest that they deem their best. This was mine. It didn’t involve saving a life or a heroic act. It was the result of good old-fashioned police work, involving determination, perseverance, and patience. Doesn’t sound like me, does it?
I’m working A.M. Watch. I was a firm believer in the D/O sheet. For my non-police friends it was a Daily Occurrence of crimes that occurred the day before. I would study it for suspect descriptions and crime patterns. I would write down license plates of wanted cars in my officer’s notebook. I always had one or two D/O sheets in my sap pocket.
My theory was: don’t just drive around, hoping to stumble on a crime in progress. Later the department called it “random patrol produces random results.” Look for patterns and concentrate on those areas. Holy cow, I sound like one of those building boys.
I was working with a strong-headed probationer. I believe he was the beginning of the “Why Generation.”
Me: “Skip, do this.”
Me: “Did you check under the back seat?”
I was trying to teach my probationer how to study a D/O sheet. “Why?” In the beginning, it was all uphill.
Hollywood has an area in the foothills west of Ferndale Park, and north of Franklin, called the “Oaks” because all the streets are named oak something. Live Oak, Mountain Oak, Spring Oak. etc. It’s not hard to get lost in the Oaks. The houses are all expensive and celebrities dot the neighborhood. Elvira, “Mistress of the Dark” and our former Chief of Police, lived in the Oaks.
My patrol area was central Hollywood, miles from the Oaks. Like most cops, I couldn’t resist the adrenalin rush of making a good arrest. Checking my D/O sheets, I noticed a pattern of hot prowl burglaries occurring in the Oaks during A.M. Watch. “Hot Prowl” means the burglar enters a house when the residents are home. They are the most dangerous. They sometimes just take property, sometimes they rape or if caught in the act, murder.
The odds of catching a hot prowl burglar in the hills at night is similar to winning the lottery. It’s quiet and a suspect can hear cars coming for blocks. The winding roads and hills cut down on your field of vision. It’s almost impossible to stumble upon a burglar entering or leaving a residence.
Almost nightly, a hot prowl occurred in the Oaks. The suspect description is male black, NFD. (no further description) Whenever we get a few available minutes, we’d drive up through the Oaks. We don’t see anything but deer, skunks, and an occasional flat opossum in the roadway. We usually only get a few minutes to snoop around before we get a call taking us back to the flatlands. This goes on for weeks. We talk to the Burglary Detective. He says the suspect doesn’t seem to care that he’s seen. He once tells a witness, “You won’t be able to identify me anyway.” We even end up handling a few of the crime reports. Now it’s personal and we’re pissed.
My probationer is getting involved. He’s collecting his own D/O sheets. I must have found that soft spot in his hard head. One night after handling a bunch of radio calls, my probationer says, “Can we head up into the Oaks? I’d sure like to catch that SOB.” Ok, he’s got the fever that inspires cops. I break regulations and tell him don’t clear until we get up into the Oaks, that will give us a few minutes to look around.
I drive up Brier Cliff to Verde Oak. It’s all uphill. We crest a hill and as our headlights lower I see a flash of something run behind a car. I thought it might be a coyote or one of the smart opossums that actually made it all the way across a street. I drive up alongside the car and it’s a male black crouching down in front of the car. I can’t believe our luck.
I question him. He lives at 42nd and Western and he says he jogged to Hollywood. Funny, he hasn’t broken a sweat. His sweatshirt matches one that was described by a witness on an earlier burglary. The rest of his story is also unbelievable. An alarm company car comes by and tells me he stopped the same guy a week ago in the Oaks. We place this prize in our back seat. The radio operator is trying to give us a radio call in the flatlands. Sorry, we have bigger fish to fry.
I can hardly control the adrenalin rush. This is what most cops work for. The hours suck, the pay is below standard, you work holidays, you get spit at, called names, and the media portrays you as a bottom feeder. This arrest was better than that old E-Coupon ride at Disneyland. We got a couple of commendations, but they pale in comparison to that feeling cops get when they catch a bad guy.
Ok, we caught this guy, now it’s up to the Hollywood Detective to connect him to the crimes. We caught a big break. This detective is an up and comer in the LAPD. He makes our suspect on two burglaries, with prints, three more with witness identifications. He contacts Northeast Detectives and learns they also have a rash of hot prowl burglaries bordering our division. The detectives connect our suspect and clear by arrest, fifty residential burglaries in both Divisions.
Sometimes you’re lucky, and sometimes hard work pays off! That night I was rewarded with a little luck, due to my hard work.
Epilog: This suspect was convicted and spent four or five years in state prison. He was released and later caught again committing hot prowl burglaries in the Oaks. So much for prison reform.
The following stories are true. These are tidbits of things that happened during my career. I was recently asked why I write these stories. Whenever you get three or more cops together, they talk about the good old days. The more alcohol consumed the better the stories. All cops have stories of their experiences. They love listening to a cop’s story and then tell their version of the incident. Some of the replies I get of an incident confirm that my memory is still good. Hopefully, I can put off having my name and address written in my underwear for a few more years.
These stories are sort of my memoirs of my career. I always said that good police work was 75% luck. That’s being in the right place at the right time. It’s 25% knowing what to do with the luck when it drops in your lap. Being a cop is rewarding as well as frustrating. Cops rely on instincts due to their training and experience. Now days, lawyers call it profiling. The first story still bugs me to this day. I missed a big one.
I’m working A.M. Watch—it’s about 4 A.M. I’m driving in the Whitley Heights area of Hollywood. That’s a nice residential area above Hollywood Boulevard. It’s where movie stars first moved to in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. I see this car driving toward me. It’s a beat up clunker, one head light out. As he passes me, the driver has that ‘oh shit’ look on his face. Even my new probationer partner remarks that guy doesn’t fit this neighborhood.
We stop him to investigate. He identifies himself as Roman Jason Elliott III. He says he’s from New York and begins to compliment us on our professional appearance. Ok, I’ve been snowed before, but most attempts were by a female traffic violator. As I question him, I’m thinking he was in that neighborhood to commit a crime or was leaving after committing a crime. His story has so many holes that even the ACLU would be suspicious. His car was registered to a female—he claimed was his girlfriend’s car registered in Kansas. We checked him and the car for warrants and neither was wanted. He gave me permission to search his car. Nothing in the interior, the trunk was locked and he insisted his girlfriend had the key. I tried to figure out a way to get into the trunk. I’ve got that nagging feeling that something is wrong, but I can’t arrest him on hunches. I sent Roman on his way.
I’m off for the next two days and when I return, I’m sitting in Roll Call. They pass out a wanted flier for a Roman Jason Elliot III. Wanted for murder. It seems Roman strangled his girlfriend when she refused to be a prostitute and put her in the trunk of her car. He was looking for a place to dump her body. I’ve got that sick feeling in my stomach. I had him and let him slip away. He was later arrested in Florida and convicted. His girlfriend was a farm girl from Kansas. Roman convinced her that he would take her to Hollywood and make her a star. Yea, she was in the trunk when we stopped him. Win some, lose some and I lost a big one.
I found an interesting article dated Oct. 25, 1998 in the Lehigh (Pennsylvania) Valley newspaper. This wasn’t the only time Roman met the police. There’s even a line indicating he later had a murder conviction in California. Sadly, this is similar to what happened with Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputies during the Polly Klaas abduction investigation. It’s one of those times when the law dictates what a cop can do–and can’t. If there was no consent to search the trunk in either case, the officer cannot lawfully do it. this is an example of cops doing their jobs to the best of their ability within the law. Unfortunately, the outcome wasn’t satisfactory in either case, although both men were convicted of murder. –Thonie
OK, on a brighter note, Cliff and I are patrolling a rear parking lot of businesses behind Hollywood Boulevard. As we drive through the parking lot, we see a man come from the back of a business. We grab him and figure we caught us a business burglar. As we question him, I notice a hippy dog with a handkerchief tied around his neck, running around the parking lot. This guy’s story is also full of holes. We handcuff him and put him in the back seat of our patrol car. I leave Cliff to watch over our new friend, while I check which building this guy broke into.
I see that damn dog again.
As I look for a crime, Cliff calls out to me, “Hal, we got a problem.” I return to our car. That dog belonged to our bad guy. He entered our police car through an open front door and jumped into the back seat next to our suspect. The dog is barking at us and showing an impressive set of canines. The dog won’t let us approach our own police car.
I can just hear the guys laughing at us and imagine the comments and practical jokes.
“Hal, why didn’t you just let the dog drive your suspect to the station?”
“Hal, are you applying for a K-9 job?”
I need time to think.
I go back to checking out the businesses for a crime. Nothing, our suspect might have gone back there to pee or we just caught him too soon.
I’ve stalled enough. What do I do with that dog? I get as close as I can to my police car. I tell my suspect if he loves that dog, he had better control him. I even threaten to shoot the dog if he bites me. The guy gets his dog to calm down. We release the guy and the dog, we saved ourselves a bunch of embarrassment. Since then I’ve hated hippy dogs with handkerchiefs tied around their necks.
I grew up in Eagle Rock and we lived in the hills. Our street was on a hill with the top somewhat level. That’s were all the kids played ball, rode our bikes, played freeze tag and dreaded when the street lights come on, because that’s when we had to go home.
At the level spot of our street, lived a man, Mr. Melman, the scrooge of our block. I’ll bet every kid growing up had a Mr. Melman living in their neighborhood. If our ball landed in his yard, he would run out, grab it, and make one of our parents go get it back. If we were just starting a football game he would back his car out of the driveway and park it on our 50-yard line. He just hated kids, but then come to think of it the parents didn’t like him either. Well, growing up you learn to deal with adults.
Flash forward fifteen years, I’m a cop patrolling Hollywood Boulevard. My partner observes this guy who resembles a wanted suspect. We stop him and ask for identification. I look at his driver’s license and my mouth drops open. It’s Mr. Melman from my street. I didn’t recognize him and he didn’t recognize me. He wasn’t our wanted suspect but he did have a bunch of unpaid traffic tickets that had gone to warrant. I don’t think I ever enjoyed booking a warrant suspect more. I just wish I could have shared my joy with the kids I grew up with. Most had moved away and I lost touch with them.
I still get a warm feeling when I think of sweet childhood revenge.
We had a captain who was a good guy. Not all street cops like or understand their captains. Captains are the ones who call an officer into his office and give him his penalty for some misconduct. Anyway this captain was liked by most cops and all supervisors. I thought he would appreciate a good practical joke. I had my wife, Terri, buy a “for sale” sign. I wrote on it “For Sale, Cheap, make an offer, I have to leave the country” I placed the sign on the captain’s police car, parked in the station parking lot. I used my probationer as a look out, even though he thought he would get fired. I even took a couple of pictures.
The Detective Lieutenant saw the sign, ripped it off and stormed into the captain’s office. The lieutenant wanted an investigation and wanted some cop to fry. The captain saw the humor and told the lieutenant to let it go. Whew, I might make retirement yet. I waited a few weeks, had the picture developed and placed in a small frame that Terri bought for me. I snuck into the captain’s office and placed the picture next to his family photos. Six months later the picture was still on his desk. Someone told me the picture was on his desk at his new assignment downtown.
In my last Ramblings, I described the bad partners I worked with. Most were probationers and you might think that I didn’t like newbies. Actually, it was just the opposite.
Training a probationer was a lot like watching your own child grow up. You nurse them, teach them, and often laugh at the mistakes they make. Some learned to walk faster than others. Some days you’re frustrated and ready to give up, then you see the light come on in their head and you know they’ll be ok. Think potty training. You coax them along then send them out into the real world hoping for the best. When you really care, you worry.
As I have said, I probably trained over 100 probationers and most made it through an entire career, a few resigned in lieu of being fired. There were ones who became your boss. You bragged how you trained them. Thank goodness they didn’t hate me. If I named each good partner I worked with, it would take up pages.
What is a good partner? That’s a loaded question! Is it someone you have a lot in common with? Now, I loved partners who had nothing in common with my interests. He/She didn’t like sports, He/She didn’t like hunting, He/She was a Democrat or Republican. Some came from rich families and others lived paycheck to paycheck. And yes, some even had a lot of education.
Bill Barren (RIP) was a good partner. He loved Ohio State, I loved USC; he hated the outdoors, I loved camping and fishing; but when we pinned on those badges, we were as close as twins. Dale Hickerson another great partner. We have fished, hunted, and watched each other’s kids grow up. At times, it was as if we were an old married couple. Dave Balleweg another great partner wasn’t into playing sports like I was, but we have remained close even when he moved to Oklahoma. There are dozens more I could name including supervisors but I don’t have enough space.
Good supervisors: I had many and I often tried to copy them when I became a supervisor. So, what does a patrol cop look for in a good supervisor? A supervisor who cares more about his officers than his next promotion; a supervisor who shows up at your call and lets you handle it. They’ll save you from making career ending-decisions. They’ll offer advice when asked but don’t butt in and screw up the situation you had calmed down. I once had a neighbor dispute almost handled. My sergeant showed up and escalated the incident which later found me in civil court on the wrong side of a lawsuit. I won but what a headache.
Some of my favorite sergeants, Gil Jones, Terry Seagraves and Roger Jackson would show up stand back and let me handle the incident. They offered advice based on their extensive field experience. These sergeants were more concerned with doing good police work than impressing the chief. Some days, when I was the Watch Commander and I was ready to retire, I would walk into Mike Diaz’ office and close the door. Mike would let me vent, pat me on the back, and then send me back into battle.
I had other supervisors who had no field experience; we called them “Building Boys.” Some had trouble finding Hollywood Boulevard even though you could see it from the front door of the police station. I had one brand new sergeant show up at one of my calls and when confronted with a decision, requested another sergeant to decide how to proceed. Jeez.
Some partners you just bond with. There’s a chemistry, somewhat like being married. You can finish each other’s sentences, know what he/she is thinking and spend hours together and never be at a loss for words. Craig Bushy knew when his partner, Randy Walker, was losing patience. He would take off his glasses and set them on the hood of the police car. Luckily, when you divorce from these partners, you don’t lose half your pension.
A good partner is someone you put your trust in, even more importantly–your life. Often, before going to your family, you confide in a good partner and listen to his/her advice. A good partner is someone who can make you laugh, even when you ready to cry and believe me there are times you’re ready to give it all up. The stress can kill you if you don’t laugh.
So, what’s the clue? Hell, I don’t know. But when you spend a few hours together, you’ll know. I had many good partners who I hunted and fished with and a few who (outside of police work) I had nothing in common with. When working with a good partner, you looked forward to going to work. Even if you got all the crap calls that night, you still had fun. You just knew that it was going to be good shift.
The good partners let you forget the bad partners and allowed me to spend 35 years on the LAPD. Good partners were gold and made the job fun; I miss the good ones and still have nightmares about the bad ones.
FYI more than half the people who I sent this to were considered good partners. Thanks-Hal
[editor’s note: this last paragraph refers to those on Hal’s email list. This is how he first disseminated his Ramblings. You know who you are and you should be proud–Thonie]
This is the final installment of my Ramblings involving female officers. I wrote all three Female Ramblings before e-mailing the first out. That was in case someone tried to talk me out of writing more.
Like most dinosaurs of the LAPD, I had my reservations about working with a female officer. Sure they were good to look at and they smelled nice but would they help me kick some doped-up speed freak’s ass? After all, cops depend on their partners to back each other up. Some of the females were only 5′ tall and weighed less than a hundred pounds.
As I mentioned, I worked with the first female patrol cop assigned to Hollywood. It was a good experience and we got along fine. A short time later, I was assigned another female officer. No problem, they knew their job and didn’t shy away from a fight. I seemed to get assigned every new female officer that came to Morning watch.
This displeased my wife very much. I lied when I told her they weren’t very attractive and she didn’t need to worry, after all I was a professional police officer and a model husband. Yeah, right.
Once, before direct deposit, my wife accompanied me to the station to pick up my pay check. She stays in the car as I run into the station. As I’m coming out the back door I run into Linda, one of my female partners. She is returning from court and has on a black dress and her long blond hair is down. Now I have never seen Linda with her hair down, but wow! Linda was a body builder and in that tight-fitting dress, she was very attractive. My wife asks me is that the captain’s secretary? Like the dumb ass that I am, I say, “no, that’s Linda, my partner.” I would tell you the ride home was quiet but the fact is it wasn’t and I didn’t say much. My wife knew that a lot of male officers left their wives and kids for a younger female partner. I know of a captain who has 3 ex-wives, all cops (names available for a cashier’s check or a new deep sea fishing rod).
There was a good reason why I was assigned a lot of female partners. One, I had the patience of an oyster, two, I was trusted not to date my probationers. I was more afraid of the Watch Commander at home than the one at the station.
We had some officers who were never assigned a female probationer, or at least a second time. Example: Bobby Cxxxxxxxd, you fill in the missing letters. He was assigned a young attractive, unmarried, female officer. He spent half the night telling her not to date any cops until she got off probation. He went on to warn her that she would be asked out after work because she was single and attractive. After work, Bobby asked her out for a drink. Bobby was never assigned to work with a female probationer again. I believe Bobby had 3 ex-wives. Duh.
I once was asked by a female partner why I didn’t stare at women like the other male cops she had worked with. I told her, “I stare, I just don’t make it obvious.” I’ve been married for a long time and I wanted to keep it that way.
As I said at the beginning of this Ramblings series, I was a training officer for 21 years. During that time I learned that it was easier to talk suspects into jail than fight them and ruin a good uniform. Now, a lot of young cops are macho and have to prove themselves.
Females were more persuasive. I saw many a suspect that would fight me but not a female. I once had a large drug addict that told me he wasn’t going to jail. I’m taking off my watch, removing my pen and pencil and getting ready for another big fight. These are items that get broken or tear uniforms in a fight.
My partner, Bambie, (her real name) says to me, “let me talk to him.” In a calm, non-threatening voice she convinced this drug-crazed dumb ass to submit to arrest. I might get another day out of this uniform yet, but where the hell did I put my watch?
I actually liked working with female officers as long as they came to work, were ready to work, didn’t throw up at decaying dead bodies, as some of the men did, and didn’t want to exchange recipes. I did have a few problems during the transition period. The transition period was for both of us. The females had to learn that police work is not pretty and I had to learn that you treat them just like everyone else.
The biggest conflict I had was that my mother taught me to always be a gentlemen. Tip your hat, stand when a lady enters the room, open or hold the door for a lady. That last one caused me the most conflict. We’d handle a radio call at an apartment building and upon leaving I couldn’t stand walking through the door ahead of a women. One female officer challenged me not to treat her as a women. I told her, “It’s in case there’s a sniper outside, you’ll take the first shot.” That knocked her down a peg or two. That line worked for years. Most of my partners laughed. Yea, I still open the car door for my wife.
I had a partner who I was bringing along during her probation. We took a Burglary from Motor Vehicle report where the witness gave us a suspect description and we searched the area. A 1/4 mile away my partner, screams “there he is”, waking up sleeping birds. I was surprised the suspect didn’t take off running. He might have been as shocked as I was.
One of the worst radio calls a man can handle is a rape investigation. Imagine a female’s worst nightmare and two burly men show up and want to ask you all these personal questions. Some victims referred it to being violated a second time. I’ll be the first to admit that some male officers were less than sympatric. Female officers were more understanding and able to get the necessary vital information for a complete investigation. I once got a call to take a rape report at Central Division. My partner got a commendation and I got a cup of coffee from a machine at Parker Center.
Another transition working with females was they were like your mother. They didn’t want to eat at Pink’s, or Astro-Burger. They wanted to eat healthy and they wanted you to, also. The good old boys club has become the little boys club. I started eating salads every day, and using less dressing. I had one partner who would save some of her meal for stray animals. We would then drive around and look for hungry dogs or cats. Once we spotted a kitten with a potato chip bag stuck on its head. Picture this, two of LAPD’s finest chasing this cat around the streets of Hollywood. It probably looked like one of those funniest home videos.
This was the day when I knew that the Good Old Boys club was dead: I’m the Watch Commander. My Assistant Watch Commander, Storm Officer, and ACC (computer) operator are all females. Most men would think this is heaven, surrounded by these young, attractive and vibrant females. Well, I’m deep in paperwork, when I over hear the hub of the command center discussing how long it takes to recover from a breast enhancement and how dilated they were when they gave birth. Yea, the good old days were gone forever.
Now, before I get a hundred angry e-mails, from both sexes, I enjoyed working with females. Some taught me more than I taught them. I sometimes found their approach to police work refreshing and other times frustrating, either way it was fun. My only complaint was when a women got a promotion over a man because of affirmative action or quotas, even though she had half the experience. Send all comments with a cash payment, no stimulus checks. OK, fire away. Hal