The Call Box

Call Box: Detective Story, the Real Deal, part 1

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

det badge lapdWhat does the average citizen know about detectives? I would imagine those raised on a diet of TV, movies, books, would with some confidence state they knew quite a bit.

Ok then. Tell us what you know. Well, ah, suits worn in public but coats off the minute they are in the station. Sleeves up two turns, tie pulled loose, top button undone. Yeah.

When talking to victims or witnesses or suspects, nobody ever takes notes or fills out long involved reports. They come and go, showing up at whatever crime scene suits them, whether state or federal, makes no difference. They “take over” but usually let some vague other person do the real investigative work. They walk in and out of crime scenes giving incredible orders to everyone, then leave.

If it’s a “period” piece the detective works in a “quaint” squad room. If modern, then he/she has either an office or very well-equipped work station. There are computers that with a few key strokes can access any and all data bases worldwide; then correlate and collate all information in an instant to reach a conclusion without having to go from point A to point B.

notebook-308849_960_720At a crime scene, they can examine a bullet gash in a tree then look back along line of sight and announce the shot was fired from the 7th floor, 3rd window from the right. “In that building across the park, you will probably find an empty shell casing for a 22-250 with a 9-power scope. That is the weapon used.” (Apologies to Hal)

Later, after visiting several more locations he will announce that the killer will be, “a male in his early 40’s with a college degree in chemistry, born and raised in the mid-west. He will walk with a pronounced limp and has a slight speech impediment. He also has halitosis.”

The captain is a gruff old codger with a heart of gold. He demands you solve whatever it is quickly as he is getting “heat” from downtown. Even the mayor’s office is calling. If the boss is a she then we have to balance authoritarian with feminism.

Then, there are foot chases where the detective completes acts that would make an iron man envious.

Don’t forget car chases. Since yours is a plain sedan, you must use that stupid red light that you reach out and put on the roof while driving. No siren? Well that should not faze you as you careen through city traffic and crowded streets endangering life and limb.


Detective Maxwell on his desk in the movie Until Death

Gunfight? Sure. The suspect(s) are usually heavily armed with automatic weapons and have nothing to lose.


Married detectives must fend off suggestions and innuendos. But single? Then prepare for gratuitous sex, almost always with the wrong person.

If only it were that easy and glamorous.

End of part one; part 2 will appear Sunday, 12/24/2017.


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Code-7: Absolutely the (next to) last one

By Hal Collier, LAPD retired

Ok, this is the absolutely (next tofrom Thonie: there will be one more next Sunday 4/24/2016) last Ramblings on Code-7. Some of you must think that all I did for thirty-five years was eat. Actually a lot of times cops miss Code-7 due to an arrest, a busy night, or no other police cars available to cover while you ate.

Then was something called a Tactical Alert. A Tactical Alert was called when a major incident occurred anywhere in the large city of Los Angeles. Tactical Alert means no one eats and the waitresses throughout the city get stiffed on our quarter tips. Sometimes an incident has occurred in the Harbor, LAPD Communications Watch Commander will broadcast a city-wide Tactical alert. Now, if I drive up to Mount Lee just above the Hollywood Sign I can see the harbor but there’s little chance I’ll be sent there. Later, they would scale the Tactical Alert down to a bureau. It still means that you’re likely to eat Code-7 off the hood of your car.

Ok a last code-7 interruption (we already discussed this–it’s not the last).

When I moved to day watch, the locations to eat Code-7 multiplied by 800%. I liked a little Italian place, “Stephano’s.” It was family owned and run plus they had the best lasagna and garlic bread you ever tasted. If you weren’t very hungry they served a baby pizza. So one beautiful day, I’m dining at Stephano’s with my former partner, Lindy, and her future husband, Lou. He’s a LAFD firemen but I’m not prejudiced. I’ve eaten with the homeless if you remember a previous code-7 Ramblings.

So we’re sitting in a booth with a view of Vine Street. Just as we’re being served our lunch, Lou yells, “Look, a perpetrator.”

A what?

Who calls them perpetrators?

We look out the window and see a guy fleeing from the Pavilion’s Market across the street. Someone is chasing him. Now I might have thought they were just out for a midday jog but Lou said it loud enough that the rest of the restaurant patrons are now looking at us. Crap, keep my food warm. My partner and I run out to our car and catch up to the suspect—see? A suspect. I never caught a perpetrator in my entire career. He had been shoplifting when the security guard tried to arrest him. We had another police car meet us and take the suspect to the station while we returned to Stephano’s and finished our meal. We were then tied up with the shoplifter for the rest of the watch but at least we had full stomachs.


Sometime later the LAPD equipped their officers with handheld radios. They were carried on your gun belt which was already overloaded. There were advantages and disadvantages. The advantage was you were always within sound of Communications. The disadvantage was you were always within the sound of Communications! If you were eating and an, “Officer Needs Help” call comes out, you dropped your fork and responded. Later you had to go back and pay for the meal you didn’t eat. If you were still eating and a little over your allotted Code-7 time, the communications dispatcher would ask you if you were clear. That usually meant they had a call for you.


Read the absolutely and for real last Code-7 post next week.

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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