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.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Open microphones

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

“Open Mic.”

There’s a message that terrifies both cops and [dispatchers, AKA Radio Telephone Operators] RTO’s. Sometimes a cop will get in his police car and sit on the microphone. That keys the mic and whatever conversation the officers are having is being broadcast to both the RTO and all officers on that frequency—including the supervisors. These conversations could range from the R-rated description laced with profanity of the officer’s date with the captain’s secretary, or to a physical description of that women on your last call. The granddaddy of all open microphones messages is your negative opinion of your supervisor who is driving away in front of you.


I remember one incident when two officers had an open mic. They were on Sunset Boulevard and vividly describing the prostitutes as they drove by. Myself and half the division raced to find them. Funny, the supervisors had all disappeared. In today’s politically correct world the officers would have received a two-month suspension. With today’s radio scanners it would have been breaking news on CNN with racial overtones.


The RTO’s also have incidents where they leave the radio open and make comments about what an asshole that officer is. Probably true but not a career builder. Either way, an open microphone is a disaster for both parties. If the officer makes a comment that results in misconduct and a complaint is made, the RTO will be a witness. Other officers might also be listed as witnesses but some of us have selective hearing!


On the other side, sometimes the RTO will have the microphone open waiting for the frequency to clear. Her conversation with the dispatcher next to her might not be what you want the whole division to hear. Now days everything is recorded.  It’s a 2-edged sword!


I know what a difficult job RTO’s have. They have to deal with a mostly male, often a chauvinistic audience and often under extreme stress. I also know that they frequently send us out on a dangerous call and anxiously await the outcome. After the call, an officer will put himself out of service at the station. That leaves the RTO to wonder, “What the hell happened?” It’s like watching a really good suspenseful movie and missing the ending when the phone rings.


In a large city like L.A. you had to be careful what you said or typed to the RTO.   I responded to a welfare check which turned out to be a murder/suicide with a wife and two very young children. I needed the fire department to cut open the metal frame door. When I requested a fire engine and ambulance the RTO asked what I had. Is that standard procedure? I know that the news media monitors radio frequencies so I responded, “read the comments of the call and imagine the worst.” The RTO acknowledged and sent me the required fire personnel. I know she wanted to know what was going on. That’s got to be a hard part of the job.


Dispatchers also handle officer emergencies and are left wondering is the officer safe? Did I do everything right or did I screw up? After the first two episodes of my Dispatchers Ramblings, I received a comment from a former partner who told me of working one night when an officer put out a help call, “Officer Needs Help, My Partner Has Been Shot.”  The officer kept screaming, “I need help and an ambulance!” The RTO was crying but remained professional and directed the necessary resources to the incident.

Bet you never saw that on the TV cop shows!


RTO’s and cops? Are we the same? No, but we have a bond that only we understand. We often laugh together but we cry separately. We care about each other but don’t always show it and that’s a shame.


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: More Off Duty Jobs (part 3)

More Off Duty Jobs

by Hal Collins

Another Ramblings that deals with off duty jobs. 

A lot of non-police think that cops make a good salary, and we do, but it’s mostly in benefits. You can’t spend a benefit. 


I’ll tell you how poor cops are. We got paid every two weeks on a Wednesday.  This is before direct deposit, so you had to actually hand a check to a bank teller to deposit your pay.  After they deposited your check you asked for cash back so you and your kids could eat that night.


Think I’m kidding? Listen to this: on payday, the checks were delivered to the station around noon.  Payday was like attending a reunion in the Watch Commanders office.  Lots of us rich cops were waiting to grab our paycheck before the ink was dry.  There were times when the checks were late and I had to push my way past detectives to get my check and race to the bank before they closed.  This is the reason we worked off duty jobs.  We wanted to buy new cars before ours was impounded as abandoned.  A lot of the wives didn’t work so we had a lot of one income families.  The others were known as “DINKs” for Double Income No Kids.


El Capitan movie premiere set-up photo courtesy of Wikipedia
El Capitan movie premiere set-up
photo courtesy of Wikipedia

After 14 years, I moved up to the big time. I became a Senior Lead Officer and worked Day Watch.  I soon was asked to work movie premieres at the Chinese Theater as well as a few special events.  Movie premieres were a choice assignment.  You get paid right away, the crowd is usually packed with tourists and the atmosphere was festive.  You got to see movie stars if that’s your thing—it wasn’t mine.  I often had to ask the tourists who was getting out of the limo.  It was a double treat if you also got to work the after-party.  See last weeks post for more on that.


I got on the fast track for good off duty jobs.  Mercedes had a car dealership on Sunset Boulevard just west of Vine.  Once a year they invited past customers to an open house to show off the new cars. They had great caterers and let face it, people who drive Mercedes don’t usually cause a lot of problems.  Of course, I had to wear my best suit. Okay, it was my only suit, but that’s why I was working off duty.  I was saving up for a newer Warehouse for Men’s suit.  I had one lady come up to me.  She thought I was a salesmen and asked if she could buy a Mercedes station wagon.She had her check book in her hand.  The sales commission would have been a lot more than I earned that night.  I opened my coat a little and the look on her face when she saw my gun was priceless.  I never was a good salesmen.


Another lady who drew my attention.  She was dressed in her only go-to-church dress but didn’t fit in with the other Mercedes owners.  She had her invitation but spent more time at the caterers tables than looking at new cars.  I even saw her loading up her purse with shrimp.  I’m guessing that she won some money on a lottery ticket and bought a Mercedes.  She now attends every open house.


I worked the Jewish Women’s Club auction every year and I’m not even Jewish.  They hire the best caterers.  I also worked a Leeza Gibbons wedding.  I was close enough at the church to watch an aide slam her limo car door on the hand of another aide.  For three years, I watched some of the wealthiest young females graduate from the Marlborough Private High School.  Names like, Dodger owner O’Malley, Rockefeller, Doheny—well, you get the picture.  I was glad I had my only suit dry cleaned.


I once worked a private party at a large house in the Mt. Olympus area of Hollywood.  I got an uneasy feeling and refused to work it the following year.  It turns out the resident was suspected of being in the Russian Mafia and was being investigated by Organized Crime Officers.  See–I’m not a whore–I won’t work every job.  I had enough off duty job opportunities that I could pick and choose.  I avoided any job at the Palladium. I spent the first 5 years of my career, on duty, dodging rock and bottles from the rock group crowds that played there.


I once worked a short stint at the Shrine Auditorium guarding the box office.  I remember one day I was on suspension and worked without a gun or badge.  I did have a very sharp #2 Ticonderoga pencil.


Next I’ll discuss some of the better off duty jobs I worked and some that I regretted.  If you know me, you’ll know that I didn’t get rich but my daughter has straight teeth and I still only have one suit.