The Call Box

The Call Box: Not Miami Vice, Part 2

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

Also assigned to nights was a three-man prostitution squad, of which my old partner Frank Isbell, was the newest member. Whatever they were called, ladies of the evening, soiled doves, or my favorite, fallen angels, they were simply targets for the Hooker Squad. As conspicuous goes, they were the ultimate. They generated almost daily citizen complaints and no matter how many we busted, they proliferated. There were several small pockets around the division but the main attraction was Western Avenue from Adams south to Jefferson. This six block area supported 12-15 sporting girls each and every night. Sadly, this was “Sugar Hill” my old radio car beat.


Watching the cop shows on TV these days, the vice squad procures two or more hotel/motel rooms. One is the “command post,” the other is wired for sound and video. You would think they were after a Russian spy, not some street-walker. I’m sure they would find our method “quaint” and overly simplistic.


Using our own cars (no special insurance or waiver of liability), we drove up to the corner. When she approached, we waited for the magic phrase, “sex in exchange for money or something of value.” usually money of course. The pitch was usually street slang but the meaning was clear. After a short bargaining session to lend credibility, she got into the car and we said our magic phrase, “You are under arrest.” We drove them to a nearby location where the paddy wagon was parked, unloaded, and went back for more. It was all verbal, no witness, no fancy recording. It was all “He said, she said.”

Mostly to amuse ourselves, I suppose, we sometimes donned disguises. I had a white lab coat with stethoscope around my neck and a head mirror on. Now for those of you too young to know: it was a chrome disc on the forehead by means of a black strap. Doctors used to direct reflected light to a specific area. Some ENTs (Ear, Nose, and Throat docs) still use them.

Now to think, would a doctor wear one in the car? Well, I suppose it lent an air of familiarity. She even called me doctor.


One night, I got third in line behind two real tricks. She turned them both down and got in with me. When I busted her she said, “Damn. I turned down two live ones and get in with you. I look in and see them long legs, blue jeans, cowboy boots and hat and think I got me a date with “Cheyenne.”  Actor Clint Walker played Cheyenne Bodie on a popular TV show then running. The ladies were usually cooperative when hearing the magic words and very, very seldom ran or resisted. There were exceptions. One of our ladies threw a milkshake in Frank’s face. Part of it hit the inside driver’s window, running down inside the door panel and shorting out the electric windows. Another of our guys had his jaw broken when slugged by a Good Samaritan who saw the arrest and thought the lady was being kidnapped.


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Stupid Crooks, part 2 and Stupid Cops

By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired


How many times have I arrested a suspect with a gun that wouldn’t work because he had the wrong ammunition? 

Here’s a classic. I was investigating a shooting where a suspect ambushed the victim in the dark parking lot behind an all-night hot dog stand. The suspect shot the victim with a shotgun at fairly close range. The victim sustained non-life threatening wounds to his left upper body and face. The victim was shot with #8 shotgun shells. That’s small birdshot. Two days later I arrested the shooter in a motel on Sunset Boulevard. I’d like to tell you it was my superior investigative skills but the truth is, a snitch told me where he was staying. When I arrested him, he had the shotgun and a bandolier full of shotgun shells. My suspect was mad that he didn’t kill

the victim. The bandolier had shotgun shells that contained #4 shotgun shells. A #4 shot would have easily put the victim into the next world. My suspect just didn’t know that #4 shot shells were larger than #8’s. Stupid, huh?


In 1993, I made a mistake and promoted to Sergeant. I was transferred out of Hollywood and sent to South Central Los Angeles, AKA Watts. I left the town of glamour, movie stars, and millionaires. I spent the next 15 months watching the sun rise over the Watts towers. Impressive, but not Hollywood.


One of the favorite crimes in Watts was stealing cars and taking the engine and transmission. The culprits would then roll the car a few blocks away and abandon the car. The cops would then follow the oil trail back to the thief’s house and arrest the occupant with the oil on his clothes and an engine in the living room.


Not only are the crooks stupid but sometimes I suspect that cops are in competition. Hollywood had an officer who married a “reformed” prostitute. He shows up for work late one night and sees his bride handcuffed to the hallway bench along with the rest of the soiled doves. He releases his wife out the back door of the station without the proper paperwork. I believe he’s now a greeter at Wal-Mart.


We had another JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) reject who wanted to book a suspect for possession of a controlled substance. The officer displayed the drugs to the Watch Commander in the suspect’s prescription bottle in the suspect’s name. The W/C explained that if he had a prescription, it was not a crime. Our brilliant officer scratched off the suspects name and went to another supervisor and obtained booking approval. The former officer was later observed selling magazine subscriptions.


It’s not just the junior officers who do stupid things. I had a captain who was arrested by an outside agency for making and selling pirated DVD’s. She was arrested at Hollywood station and walked out the back door in handcuffs. How about the Hollywood sergeant who owned a big sail boat? He bought a million dollar home at a marina only to discover that his boat was too big for the boat slip at his new house that just cleared escrow. 


Last stupid cop story.  My partner and I are having a cup of coffee at the Winchell’s at Melrose and Vine. Were into about two sips of our coffee break when a hot shot radio call comes out. I toss my almost full cup of coffee and jump into the driver’s seat. I’m racing northbound on Vine Street and as I cross Santa Monica the road rises and then drops. My partner screams out in pain. He was cradling his hot coffee over his lap. Think about jumping on a trampoline with a hot liquid poised over your privates.  By the way the coffee was free. Saving a free cup of coffee verses cleaning a uniform or possible burns to your groin area, stupid. 

Footnote:  The officer recovered and later had children. 


We’re out there and we’re reproducing.  I won’t even get into politicians.

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