The Call Box

The Call Box: Not Miami Vice

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

Let me start with a disclaimer. I never watched the show. But it was impossible not to know of its existence. I did not own either a lavender or peach colored sport coat, white slacks (give me a break), loafers with no socks (nope), I did not live on a boat, have an alligator for a pet nor drive a Maserati. I do like Glen Fry and The Eagles, though. Oh, and I can count on one hand the extended gun battles I had with drug lords. To be really honest, I can’t remember any. I never understood the “vice” part. They never busted any hookers or bookmakers or even crap games. I guess it just sounded sexy. “Miami Vice.” That’s Hollywood for you. I was now a member of “University Vice.”


Frank Isbell and I had been promoted to vice from our beloved radio car. Frank to the “Prostitute Squad” and me to “Gambling.”


A little background: Home was the small ugly building attached to the east end of the station house. We had some battered desks, chairs and filing cabinets. Years before, the place had been a hamburger joint and the smell of old cooking oil was ever present. We had two old and tired cars. That might as well have “police” painted on the side in large red letters. 


The boss was Sergeant Bob Ryan. He worked days did all the sergeant-type stuff, you are supposed to do, books/paperwork, etc. He looked like your rumpled old uncle or the guy behind the deli counter. Even though he was not expected to make arrests, he was deadly as a john or trick when busting prostitutes. He did not have the “cop look.” Working for him on day shift, were two teams (2 men each) chasing bookmakers.




Now, making book was a felony and these teams busted their butts making cases only to have the courts treat it as a misdemeanor and levy a small fine.



Before I go on I should mention the “3 C’s:” commercial, conspicuous and complained of. Tradition says any city with a blatant or conspicuous vice problem is a “corrupt” city. We were guided by the 3 C’s: commercial—the dice and card games took a piece of the action, prostitutes— ‘nuff said. Conspicuous—gambling, no, but the ladies? Well, what can I say?  Complained of—irate wives with no paychecks and rivals would rat out the games and everybody, and I mean everybody (except the tricks), complained about the hookers—


                                                                                             more to follow next week

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