Ramblings by Hal Street Stories

Ramblings: Officer Involved Shooting

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

It was a clear day and my shift was going well. I was a field sergeant, but I was asked to sit in as the Watch Commander (W/C) while the W/C and assistant W/C attended a meeting. I settled into the W/C’s seat and noted that I was in command of the entire Hollywood Patrol Division. If something big happened in Hollywood, it was soon to be world news. It was nearing the end of my 12-hour shift. What could possibly go wrong? I had a very competent officer sitting to my left who often helped me handle the numerous calls meant for the Watch Commander. I bought myself a diet Coke for that late afternoon caffeine pick me up and settled into a game of FreeCell on the computer. I have to stay mentally sharp in case I’m asked to make a decision. Little chance, right?

I suddenly remembered that I last peed before roll call about 9 hours ago. Cops develop bladders the size of a basketball. Imagine being on a stake out or perimeter search and holding up a finger asking for a potty break.

So, I’m losing this game of FreeCell and make my last good command decision of the day.

I went pee. I casually walked back into the W/C office thinking the world would continue to spin. The young officer calmly said, “Hey sarge, you should see this message that came through the ACC (a computer in W/C’s office).”

I told him print it out.

I sat down take a sip of my still cold diet Coke. Now an OIS (Officer Involved Shooting) is so important that the department basically mobilizes. Everyone wants to be notified and half of those respond to the scene. No kidding. It was rumored that an OIS was better investigated than a homicide. An OIS doesn’t have to include shooting at another human being. An OIS might be an “aw shit” in the locker room where you accidently pull the trigger and put a hole through the next three lockers. It also might be during a foot pursuit when you trip, and your handgun goes off. No matter who or why you have an OIS everyone above the rank of rookie wants to be notified. I read the printout and an officer has fired his Berretta 9mm at a dog. Ok, not as important as shooting at a human being but still pretty serious.

My brain shifted into high gear. Notifications need to be made! I send my loyal officer to the roll call room with a print out of the OIS. He passes the notice to the Assistant W/C. The AW/C comes down to the W/C office and confirms the information on the print out. Yes, we have an OIS! The AW/C goes back to the roll call room and advises the Watch Commander who interrupts the Captain with the news. The meeting is immediately cancelled. See? An OIS is a big deal.

In the meantime, I scrambled to make notifications. I called a Use of Force Investigation—the detectives who investigate all use of force’s.

The officer who answered the phone asked, “What do you have?”

I reply, “I have an OIS!” He told me to stand by while he got the OIS form.

The next 5 minutes I answered questions. I move on to the next notification.

The Chief of Police, same scenario: “Wait a minute. I have to get the OIS form.”

Another 5 minutes pass but I’m used to the formalities that everyone wants to be in the loop.

My next notification was West Bureau. LAPD is divided into four bureaus and Hollywood in in West Bureau. Guess what? “Hold on a minute while I get the OIS form.” After 20 minutes of answering the same questions, I felt I’d done a pretty good job of making notifications. I can now return to my Diet Coke and game of Free Cell.

Two days later I’m the real Watch Commander when I got called into the Captain’s office. I suddenly get a chill when the captain closes the door.

I spent the next 20 minutes listening to my captain chew my ass out because West Bureau was notified 20 minutes late of the OIS. When it was finally my turn to talk, I went through my notification scenario, telling him the delay was possibly due to me taking a pee brake on city time.

The OIS was two officers responded to a Radio Call. When they walked to the house a large dog charged at the officers and they retreated to their car. The dog outran the officers and one officer fired one shot at the dog. The dog was last seen running west bound through the houses. Unknown if the dog was hit. PETA was not notified.

I was not written up for my lack of only being able to talk to one person at a time. I left the Captain’s office and started a new FreeCell game.


Street Stories The Call Box

The Call Box: NYE at the Manhole Cover

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

New Year’s Eve: I was one of eight uniformed Metro officers who along with a sergeant was assigned to Hollywood and Vine. I have never been good at estimating crowd size. I just know we are packed solid on all four corners.

The crowd was in various stages of drunkenness but generally well behaved.  It consisted mostly of people who by now were probably tired of standing, wondering why they are here, asking themselves when they are going to start having fun but most of all, where’s then nearest rest room? Needed soon.

In the center of the intersection was a man hole cover. Custom and tradition said, to stand upon said manhole cover exactly at midnight would mean what?

It was sort of a “king of the hill” thing.

Vehicular traffic had been moving at a snail’s pace but was now shut down and diverted off the boulevard.

On his bull horn, the sergeant tells the crowd that it is 11:55 and they can have the intersection for 10 minutes.

The crowd who had been standing numbly on the sidewalk is now in the street thinking the same thoughts as before. But for a few this may very well be the most exciting or daring thing they have ever done in their lives.

Some can probably see their obituary: “The deceased Mr. Beanie Watros, in addition to his 40 year service as assistant manager at the Widget Factory, was somewhat of a local legend having on one occasion actually stood in the center of Hollywood and Vine at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve until rudely pushed to the curb by a large police officer with a stick.”

The sergeant begins the countdown……one minute………30 seconds……..10-9-8…….

Hollywood and Vine in the daytime.

Now the attempt to “take” the manhole begins.

There are always 8 or 10 ready to do battle.

Now, we have two types of fighters—those who fight like 12-year-old girls (sorry ladies) and those who learned from watching silent movies where everyone “swung   roundhouse punches arms fully extended.” If they connected, everyone went down.

Miss and they went down.

At 12:05 the sergeant’s whistle tells us to take the street back. We commandeer the “standing” drunks to move the “down” drunks to the sidewalk.

“But officer, I don’t even know this guy.”

“Neither do I friend. Now put him over there.”

The crowd is now back where they started wondering, “what just happened?”

“Did I have fun or what?” 

They mill about for a bit until someone comes up with the best suggestion of the night. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.” 

Not to long after we are released so we can drive to Pasadena and work the Rose Parade for the princely sum of $25.00.

Street Stories The Call Box

The Call Box: A Vast Wasteland

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPDpolic-call-box-pedestal-lapd-gamewell-DCAL2786_dt1
Fifty-six years ago, Newton Minow, then chairman of the F.C.C. uttered the still quotable line describing TV as “a vast wasteland.”

As true now as then, most people gain their perspective of various occupations or professions from TV. Doctors, attorneys and yes, police officers.

TV helps people to understand us–what, with our wild car chases, daily gunfights, magic deductions, the treatment of victims and especially suspects, instant DNA and so on.
I have said it before and now again. Most of the job is non-confrontational and non-criminal. I understand that no one would watch a show of an officer giving directions, helping someone locked out of their house or car, looking for lost kids, etc.

The reality is a wild, crazy, funny wonderful ride with God knows what encountered along the way, from the mundane to “you ain’t gonna believe this.” Police work is the thrill of living by your wits and sometimes flying by the seat of your pants. Just the satisfaction you get from doing the job, especially when there is no one there to say, “Atta boy.”

Two examples:

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

I was a uniformed officer assigned to some event or another at the Memorial Coliseum, that monolithic home to the 1932 Olympics. I was walking a solo beat on one of the concourse levels, the wide cement “roads,” home to food stands, beer sales and massive restrooms that circle the inside of the venue.

I was approached by a man who reported. “There’s trouble in the men’s restroom.” He was gone before I could obtain any details.

Eight to ten feet inside the door, the problem was evident. A well dressed, middle-aged woman had inadvertently entered the men’s room. The urinals, probably twenty plus, are against the far wall. As she entered someone yelled, “Lady in the room,” at which time a good number of the men at the urinals turned as one to see what was happening.
The woman is now face to face, so to speak, with a situation she was unprepared for. She appeared frozen and unable to move. I stepped in front of her, close enough to block her view. Taking her by the shoulders, I attempted to turn and push her out the door.

She was rigid as a board and was not breathing.

Finally, I was able to break her free and start her moving while shaking her and telling her to breathe.

Once outside, she transitioned from not-breathing to hyperventilation. And she started to melt. Now, I was trying to hold her upright for a few seconds when she regained her composure. She straightened her clothing and without ever uttering a word or looking at me—was gone.

graphicstock-illustration-of-a-cartoon-angry-policeman-cop-_rFR6Esf2Kb_thumbYears earlier, I was working patrol. My partner Frank Isbell and I were in the station for some reason. As I passed the watch commanders office the sergeant called, “Meckle, see me.”
Yes, sergeant.
The following is the gist of that conversation:
Sergeant: Did you write a ticket to a [consulting note] Norman Williams earlier?
Me: Yes, Sergeant.
Sergeant: Did you have a problem with him?
Me: No, Sergeant.
Sergeant: He came in to complain that you called him a [consulting note again] “peragidave.”
Me: A what, Sergeant?
Sergeant: [consulting] A “peragidave or peragidive.”
Me: What’s a peragidive, Sergeant?
Sergeant: I was hoping you could tell me.
Me: Honest, Sergeant. I have no idea what he is talking about. My partner was there the whole time.
Frank has now entered the office and is standing just inside the door trying not to laugh out loud.
Sergeant: [to Frank] Well?
Frank: [shrugged] Nothing, Sarge. [smothering a laugh]
Sergeant: What?
Frank: Honest. Nothing, Sarge.
Sergeant: [to me] Did you say or do anything that would make him drive all this way to complain?
Me: All I did was write him a ticket. He wasn’t happy and said, ‘This is going to court.’ And I said, oh—
Sergeant: What, ‘oh’ what?
Me: I said, “That’s your prerogative.” Aw jeez.
Sergeant: I’m betting he didn’t understand what you said, kept repeating it to himself all the way here and it became peragidave. Do us both a favor. No more big words on the street.

Note: you can’t have laughs like that flipping burgers or bagging groceries, boys and girls.

The Call Box

Roll Call: Short Dogs

By Mikey, Retired LAPD

The Yellow Van and the Robbery Suspect


It was late 1990 and I was working Wilshire Division day watch patrol as a new field sergeant. Wilshire Division is bordered on the north by Hollywood Division, on the west by West Los Angeles Division on the east by Rampart Division and on the south by South West Division. At about 1130am I monitored a broadcast of a robbery that had just occurred in South West. The suspect was described as a heavy set male black, driving a yellow van, last seen south bound on La Brea Boulevard. I was stopped for a red light at Washington and La Brea facing south when I spotted a yellow van approach the interaction going north. The South West robbery suspect was last seen proceeding south on La Brea. The lettering on the van identifyed it as rental van. I radioed my location and asked communications to ask the South West unit if the van had writing on the sides. I was told that there was, and they added that it had a number on the back.

LAPD_Bell_206_JetrangerAs the light changed, the van passed me and sure enough the number matched the one given to me by the unit. I communicated that I was following the van NORTH bound on La Brea, requested back-up and settled in for a possible pursuit. I heard an air unit was enroute, so I hung back. The van proceeded into a residential neighborhood, pulled to the curb and the driver exited. I set up a felony stop, shot gun and all, and told the heavy-set driver to prone out. He turned and ran up a drive way into a back yard. The air unit was now over head and the observer told me to start star walking north.

“A little faster, Sarge,” the observer said, so I picked up the pace. I passed three residences and was approaching the last house before the end of the block when I was told to run to the end of the block and take cover facing east, so that’s what I did.

“Wait for it, Sarge.” Looking east I could see a wooden fence paralleling the street, west to east and the sidewalk next to it. This time the observer chucked as he said, “Here they come.”

They, here they come?

hurry-up-2785528_960_720I had my weapon drawn, facing east when the frail wooden fence shattered into pieces as the suspect ran right through. Behind him were a pit bull and a mutt in hot pursuit!

The guy saw at me and began yelling, “Shoot the dogs, shoot the dogs!!”

The aircrew must have been laughing hard because I heard the engine whining down (pilot not paying attention) but my attention was on our robbery suspect. The dogs got alarmed when they saw the vehicle traffic did a 180 and headed for home.

“Shoot the dogs,” ran into a responding black and white and the rest is history.

You know for a heavyset guy, he was running pretty good. Well, he was highly motivated!

Morning Watch and the Flying Badge


It was late 1990 and I was woLAPD sgt badge movie prop etsyrking morning watch at Wilshire as a patrol sergeant. Our end of watch was 0800 but I had a report to finish and didn’t leave the station until 1030. I was on my way home eastbound on the I-10, the Santa Monica portion and this time of the morning the traffic still stinks. My patience is boarding the edge of—well, I’m tired and when I get home I have a couple of “honey do’s” to complete before sleep. Drive time, 45 minutes. Crossing the Harbor freeway, the traffic lightened up, so we picked up the speed. I’m in the #2 lane and a yellow city dump truck is in the #1 lane. As we transition from the east bound I-10 to the north bound I-5, the truck—without signaling—cuts me off! Had I not slammed on the brakes, we’d have had a terrific collision. Now I’m going to catch up to the truck and let the guy know who he just cut off! I take my badge place it into my left hand. The badge pin is between my middle and index finger. I catch up to the truck who is back in the #1 lane and now I’m next to him, I roll down my window and as he looks over at me, I produce my badge out the window…….and my badge is yanked out of my hand by the rush of wind! It’s gone, rolling down the freeway. My almost new sergeant badge is GONE!

Told you I was tired, lacking any judgment and now my badge was gone. I got off the freeway and went back to the location.

Somewhere in badge heaven that badge is telling the story of the first and last knuckle head he was with.

I sure showed that driver, huh?

Roll Call

Roll Call: Northeast Vice and the Loanee

By Mikey, Retired LAPD

Sunset BlvdWhen you are assigned to patrol on the LAPD, it’s mostly working the field with a lot of coppers. The situation also depends on the watch and division as well as the number of units in the field. In specialized unit assignments, the number of coppers is limited, depending on the task. I worked Northeast Division vice from 1978-1980. We had two supervisors and eight vice officers. In 1979, both of our supervisors took vacation at the same time, so patrol loaned us a patrol sergeant to watch over us. Now this supervisor wanted to make good on his loan, so he was very critical about us “doing it right.” I think you can see where this is going.

We are working hookers on Sunset Boulevard. Taking it one step further, we have a cab, yellow in color, with everything intact, the roof light, and a radio and a meter that actually works! I’m the driver and Gary from patrol is on loan to us—he looks very Asian Indian, dark complexion and his accent (made up) is spot on. Then we added a turban and we have a “trick” ready step out.

HookersThe first hooker to go down bought Gary’s accent and his want of “Elpoah.” That was a made-up thing, but the girls knew what he wanted. After a couple of arrests, the word got out. We hit a dry spell, Gary got out, and were about to call it when the sergeant asked me to drive the boulevard to check for any girls.

I stopped for a light at Sunset and Bronson and was sitting there when the back door flew opened and a woman said, “Highland and Melrose.”
Crap, hadn’t locked the door!

In the rear-view mirror, I saw a heavy-set woman and a skinny dude. Well, I am driving a cab and they don’t know I’m the heat, sooooo, I hit the meter and proceeded to Highland and Melrose. I pulled to the curve at the destination and the lady hands me $5.00 and says, “Keep the change.”

Heck, I hadn’t thought about that, making change. So, with the fare and tip, I proceeded back to the staging area and reported to the sergeant that no hookers were present, and I got a fare and a tip.

police yellling (2)_LI

The sergeant’s water broke, and he started his period, at the same time, right there and proceeded to melt down. “G#d D—n it, G#d D—n it, holy s**t, G#d D—n it!!! You, you, G#d D—n it!” This went on for what seemed a very long time but was 2-3 minutes.

The paper work was worth it!


During this time of the sergeant’s loan, it was Super Bowl time. The unit gets a tip that a certain bar in the division is getting kickbacks or “Vigorish” from customers who bet on sports pools. Vigorish is “a charge paid on a bet,” illegal in California.

So, two of the senior vice coppers are assigned to enter the bar, look the pool chart over, see what the pay off is at the end of a quarter and do the math. If the figures don’t add up and a “charge” is apparent, you’ve got Vigorish. The vice guys enter the bar as the remainder of the unit sets up outside in plain cars and “Code 5,” or stake out. We are listening to the game and shortly after the first quarter the coppers approach the sergeant’s car. We all duck into and alley to hear what the coppers have discovered.

They tell us that there is no Vigorish and that, wait for it…………they had won $125.00!

Yeah, they bought a square and won!

graphicstock-illustration-of-a-cartoon-angry-policeman-cop-_rFR6Esf2Kb_thumb“G#d D—n it, G#d D—n it, holy s**t, G#d D—n it!!! You, you, G#d D—n it!”

The two coppers told us that the paper work was worth it. Our supervisors came back from vacation and the loan sergeant went back to patrol. I don’t think he looked at the vice unit the same way as when he first started his loan.

Besides he looked better in uniform.

The Call Box

The Call Box: Three Tales of Yesteryear

lapd callboxBy Ed Meckle

I remember reading somewhere that a light bulb burns brightest just before it goes out. I hope this not the case as some of my memories are crystal clear, others not so. Maybe some things are best forgotten.

A long time ago and far, far away, I was a young copper working night watch patrol. My regular partner, Frank Isbell and I had just left roll call with the sergeant’s words, “Now let’s see who can find her.” following us. He refered to a wanted notice he had just read for a “Cynthia [whatever], physical description provided. She was about our age and wanted for assault with intent to commit murder. The detective handling the case had made the appeal in person and let us know they “really wanted her.”

Five minutes out we reached our patrol area and turned into a quiet side street. An alley runner crossed half a block ahead of us. Two minutes into the interview it was obvious we had nothing. A young man just off work hurrying to see his new girlfriend.


Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles, Ca

As I handed him his license, I have no idea why, maybe just to leave him with a good feeling, I asked the name of his new girlfriend.


“Cynthia [whatever],” he replied.

Frank and I exchanged “the” look and I asked, “About my age, yea tall, short hair, glasses?”

A dubious nod.

I asked, “Where did she go to school?

“Manuel Arts High,” says he.

“What a small world. We were in the same graduating class. Get in the car we’ll drive you. I just want to say hello.”

He was such a square kid that even after we cuffed her he still wasn’t sure what had just happened.

cop leaning on carWorking with a regular partner, someone you know and trust can make life so much easier. Frank and I had an easy relationship, same age, both former Marines. He was one of the best street cops I ever worked with and believe me I knew some really good ones. He was a natural and we were good together. We laughed a lot, finished each other’s sentences and had an almost “spooky” unspoken communication

We had actually developed “routines” for certain situations.

“Officer, do you know who I am?”

This would prompt a reply, “Hey, partner, I’ve got a guy here with amnesia. Doesn’t know who he is.” Or “Do you have any kind of ID sir. Maybe we can help you.”


“Do you realize that I pay your salary?”

“Hey partner, I finally met the guy who pays us.” or “Thank you, sir. You have no idea how much we all appreciate what you do. I can’t wait to tell the guys at the station that I met you. They are going to be so excited. God bless you sir.”

Did this really happen? I don’t know but heard the story long ago.

TurkeysLate night, officer approaches parked car, strange noises emitted in darkened area.
“I would like to see some ID, please,” the officer says to the sole occupant.
His response, “Who me?”

Leave us pause here for a moment. Any interview that starts this way is going to be interesting.

“Where did you get the turkeys? There are 8 turkeys in the back seat all talking at once.

The reply: “What turkeys?”

I defy anyone, anywhere to tell me of another job that is as interesting, weird, strange and as much fun as this one—and they even paid us.


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.

The Call Box

The Call Box: Three New Copland Stories

polic-call-box-pedestal-lapd-gamewell-DCAL2786_dt1By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

My partner Frank Isbell and I have been assigned a plain clothes stakeout inside an apartment where the occupant has been threatened with death. He has been temporarily relocated while we wait for the intended killer.

Frank and I hear a tentative tap on the door. I look through the peephole but see nothing. I shrug and signal, “Nobody,” to Frank. A few long seconds later there is a second tap. Again nothing. I signal Frank that I am going to open the door.  Frank is to my right, shotgun ready as I pull the door open quickly with revolver in hand. And there is a very small girl staring into two guns, who says, “Would you like to buy some girl scout cookies, officer?”

Officer? Talk about presence of mind.



Here I am, still at 77th Street Patrol, morning watch, still doing scut work, checking tickets, reports, etc. It is very quiet when the jailer from across the hall sticks his head in the office and announces, “One of the prisoners wants to talk to a supervisor.” The elderly lieutenant does not acknowledge the interruption which I take as my cue to handle the situation. Now, I have been on the job long enough to know that someone who wants to see a supervisor is not about to deliver good news.

The prisoner who sits across from me is a very well dressed man who has been arrested for DUI. He says, “The man in the cell with me is wearing his suit.”

“Okay,” says I. “But I need some details.” He tells me he was the victim of a burglary several weeks prior and the thief made off with several custom-made suits. “And the man in the cell is wearing one of my suits.”

“How can you be sure it is yours?” I ask.

He tells me when the man fell asleep, his coat fell open. He checked and found his own name embroidered on the lining.

I pulled the burglary report and there it was.

The next radio car that came into the station got an easy felony pinch.


One of our elderly sergeants was enroute to eat in the wee hours of the morning when he spotted a man on a side street pushing a bulky wheeled item covered with a blanket. Curious enough to check but not enough to get out of the car he pulled up alongside the “pusher” and began a routine conversation as they both moved along. Eventually the question was asked. “What’s under the blanket, friend?”

At this point the “pusher” lost the battle of nerves and turned rabbit, gone in a flash.

Under the blanket? A box safe on wheels.




Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Lost Again

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

In my last Ramblings, I described being assigned radio calls outside your division. I will now describe being loaned to another division and still getting lost. Officers from within the same Bureau would often get loaned to a division to cover for Christmas parties and picnics. Some divisions would have a few division street guides for the loan officers. Loaned officers and sergeants were usually the boot (rookie) sergeants and younger officers—it was a seniority thing. Some officers liked working a different division.

I hated it.


NIH_PoliceDuring my thirty-five years on the LAPD we didn’t have the fancy GPS gadgets that come standard in cars and cell phones today. We sometimes had to ask for directions or depend on our instincts. It helped if you knew which way north was.

Some officers didn’t.


I was loaned to Wilshire Division one cold winter night for their Christmas party (we called it Christmas in the olden days). It was slow. Most crooks didn’t want to spend Christmas in jail. We mostly stayed on busy north/south streets looking for drunk drivers. About 3 A.M., we ran into a couple of Hollywood cops also on loan. We chatted that we only had a few more hours and we could go home to Hollywood.


man with a gunFive minutes later the other Hollywood officer requested a backup on a 415 (peace disturbance) man with a gun. We knew we were close but didn’t recognize the street they were on.

Oh shit, we didn’t have a Wilshire street guide.


As usual, I’m driving and I speed up. I can feel the adrenalin surging through my veins but I don’t know where I’m going. Did the officers turn left or right when they drove off? I’ll make a note of that for officer safety sake next time I’m on loan. I race around north of my location. Common sense says they turned right at the next street. Wrong, they turned left. I found them but it was a lot later than either of us expected or wanted. Thank goodness everything turned out ok. 

I hated being loaned outside my comfort zone.


Next: another loan where I lost the station.


The Call Box

The Call Box: Where Were You?

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

This is a particularly moving story. You might have heard of The Onion Field, the movie or Joseph Wambaugh’s book. For those of you who don’t know, this incident was a game changer in law enforcement, as the reflection (see “kidnapping…”) link below will illustrate.

Some dates and incidents never leave us. March 10, 1963 is just such a date.

I was a uniformed sergeant working morning watch at 77th street division. The other sergeant on the watch is downtown or somewhere out of the division on business. The watch commander, an elderly lieutenant nearing retirement, just announced he is taking code 7(meal break) and left. I am doing what junior sergeants do: scut work—checking tickets, logs, reports, etc., etc. It is several hours past midnight on a Sunday morning after a typical Saturday night in the busiest division in the city. But things have since quieted down.


The drunks in the jail across the hall have finally gone to sleep and the sound of snoring can be faintly heard. The police radio is a quiet hum in the background. The reverie was broken with, “12A—”, officer involved shooting; 214 E. Manchester. Suspect down, request supervisor, code 2 (no lights, no siren, observe traffic laws, but get there quick).”  On the way out I told the desk officer he had been promoted to temporary watch commander. 


robberyThe scene was a small all night café, the only business open for blocks. A male, obviously deceased, lay in a supine position on the sidewalk, handgun nearby. The officers Art Flores and Rex Lucy, both good solid young “tigers,” tell me they were driving by the location and spotted a parked vehicle with a white towel covering the rear plate. They parked to obstruct the vehicles quick departure, looked through the café window and saw every officers “dream,” a stickup man, gun in hand, holding up the cashier. 

 They took up positions to avoid possible crossfire and confronted the bandit when he stepped out of the door, gun in hand.

He made a poor decision and immediately paid for it.

Procedure at that time was detectives were summoned, in this case Detective Headquarters Division (D.H.Q.) and the lab for photos/prints/schematics or whatever. The radio operator advised me “no one was available.” This had never happened to me before and I was puzzled. It took several hours to roust people out of bed to come to the scene.

a-lapd-onion-field-officersBack at the station, after several calls, I found out everyone had gone to a farmer’s field in Kern County near Bakersfield to handle the kidnapping of two Hollywood officers and the murder of one. While investigating two robbery suspects, Officers Ian Campbell and Karl Hettinger had been taken at gun point to the field where Campbell was murdered. The suspects, Jimmy Lee Smith and Gregory Ulis Powell, panicked when Hettinger escaped into the darkness where he made his way to a farmhouse and raised the alarm. Powell drove off stranding Smith. While Powell was enroute back to LA, a California Highway Patrol (C.H.P.) unit heard the broadcast. The C.H.P. unit assumed correctly that Powell would head south. The C.H.P. unit drove at breakneck speed toward Interstate 5. 


Now, I have no idea how many vehicles pass at any given point on Highway 5, every 24 hours but it is the main north/south artery for the state of California. As the C.H.P. unit entered 5 southbound, they found themselves directly behind Powell. Smith was arrested the next day in Bakersfield.


I did not know either Campbell or Hettinger (both former Marines) but it left a very deep and lasting impression on me and, of course, the department. As I said, some things don’t go away.

Semper Fi



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