Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: More on Fighting

Police in a joint immigration task force take down a prisoner who will be expelled from Canada for being in Canada illegally. All images ©2013 Peter Bregg
Police in a joint immigration task force take down a prisoner who will be expelled from Canada for being in Canada illegally.
All images ©2013 Peter Bregg

I said I didn’t get in a lot of fights and I guess I didn’t for someone who spent his whole career in patrol.  Most cops who fight a lot have two to four years of experience.  After four years they get smart, I think its policy.  That is not based on any scientific data, but on years of my own experience.


See, young cops have to prove they are the king of the hill.  They will fight any dirt bag until they get tired of replacing expensive uniforms and waiting for their own skin to grow back.


I’m going to take you on a little side trip.  You see, in the academy the city gives you two brand new uniforms, free.  Of course they fitted you for the uniforms after three months of intensive physical training.

Some recruits hadn’t been in good physical condition since high school or boot camp in the military.  So now they head out into the world of crime and bad guys.  Those new uniforms, which by the way cost over a $120, will last as long as you can still fit in them and they don’t get ripped in a street fight.  The next set of uniforms, you paid for out of a less than generous paycheck.  In later years, officer’s got a uniform allowance check, mine was used to pay off credit card debts from Christmas.  I couldn’t afford to fight for 6 months.


You pay to replace a few uniform shirts or pants instead of going to a movie and dinner with your family and you’ll wish you had paid more attention in that class on the art of persuasion. It was called “Verbal Judo.” 


Nothing will ruin a nice expensive 100% wool uniform faster than a roll around on an asphalt street with some law breaker who will get timed served by some judge.


Ok, another reason not to fight is that you might get hurt.  Getting hurt is a part of the job but sitting at a desk for a couple of months while the dirt bag you fought with is out committing more crimes is just not fair.  I know of a half dozen cops who have broken their hands hitting some bottom feeder in the head.


I remember Officer Bill punched a guy in the face when it appeared the guy was kidnapping a women.  He broke five bones in his hand.  The husband was only trying to get his drunk wife in the car. Oops.


Officer Dale broke his hand hitting some well-deserved recipient and was chastised by the Captain. The Captain then showed Dale the proper way to hit a suspect without injury to your hand.  Dale still had to work the front desk until his hand healed.


Most cops are accused of racial profiling certain people.  The fact is that certain groups of people are prone to fight, especially when drunk.  I’m a product of my environment.  Now, Hollywood is multi-racial so we didn’t have an overwhelming population of any race.  My experience tells me that if you want to fight with a Hispanic, say something about his mother.  I’ve been told that after payday Harbor Division Longshoremen get drunk and want to fight.  I also heard that Samoans love to fight.  But no cop disagrees that a drunk American Indian will fight for no reason other than he’s drunk and you’re there.


In Hollywood, we didn’t have a large population of American Indians, but I know that Central Division had a lot.  I suspected that Central cops would put a drunk Indian on a bus, one way, to Hollywood.


When you get in a fight, you seldom have time to prepare, but every once in a while you know it’s going be unavoidable.  I had one classic time that I knew we were going to be rolling around on the ground. 


We were driving around Hollywood one beautiful night when we get an “Arson Suspect” call at the Greyhound bus station on Vine.  It’s about 2:00 in the morning and the bars have just kicked out the last patrons.


We drive up to the bus station and see a trash can bon-fire in the middle of the street.  A small group of people are standing on the sidewalk.  I lean out the car window and ask who “Started the fire.”  From behind the smoke and flames, I hear, “I did, what are you going to do about it?”


I look at my partner and say, “We have a freebee.”  My partner is already taking off his watch and removing his pen & pencil.  Watches get broken and pens and pencils rip uniforms in a fight.  You guessed it—our suspect is a drunk American Indian.  We tactically deploy; ok, we split up a little.  We tried to talk the Indian into surrendering without a fight.  Later the Department gave classes and called it “Wooshaw.”  Getting a suspect to surrender without a fight, with words.  Well, this Indian missed the class and charged my partner.


The two of us and this drunk Indian roll around on the ground for a good ten minutes.  We finally avenge Custer’s fight at the “Little Big Horn” and handcuff our suspect.  Our suspect looks us in the eye and says, “Ok, fellows, good fight, let’s go to jail.”  All he wanted to do was fight before he got a bed and three meals on the city.  Me, I got a few abrasions but my uniform only got dirty.  My partner got a nice tear on a new pair of pants.  What the fight cost:  Indian, free meals and a bed, me, two band aids and some antiseptic, my partner a new pair of pants $80.


Next the worst and longest fight of my career.


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