Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, 9-11-2001 in LA


By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Ramblings: 9/11/2001 for June 26th, 2016

9-11-2001:  Just about everyone can tell you where they were on 9-11-2001 when four airplanes were hijacked and two planes slammed into the World Trade Centers. It was a Tuesday and the temperature was forecast for mid-70’s. I was scheduled to work the field on day watch as a supervisor. I was preparing for Roll Call when the first plane, American Airlines, flight #11 slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 5:46 AM PST. As usual the TV was on the news in the Watch Commander’s (WC’s) office, the off-going watch wanted to know if they will hit traffic on the way home. The WC’s Office soon filled with officers watching the horror on TV. Most were wondering what caused a plane to veer off course and hit a building in New York. At 6:03 the second plane, United Airlines flight #175 slammed into the South Tower. The wondering stopped.

We were at war with an unknown enemy! The speculation started on who could do such a thing. Some guessed correctly that it was the work of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

We went to Roll Call and the room was quiet. Hardened cops couldn’t believe what they were seeing on the television. We had an abbreviated roll call and hit the streets. We knew that what happened in New York was going to affect everyone. I headed to the bathroom, figuring it might be six hours before I had another chance.

When we cleared for patrol, we were immediately hit with a barrage of suspicious package

calls. People suddenly saw suspicious packages that they had probably passed a dozen times before on their way to work. I personally handled three bomb calls alone. One was an empty box on Hollywood Boulevard, another was a large cylinder attached to a power pole on Highland Avenue.

America was suddenly waking up to terrorism on our own turf. I raced from call to call for about three hours when I was directed to come to the station. The LAPD had gone in Tactical Alert and each division activated their command post. I was a member of the Hollywood Division command post cadre. I spent the rest of my shift in the command post.

Months and even years after 9-11 we responded to possible terrorist sightings. One Hollywood Hills resident saw a Middle Eastern man asking how to get to the Hollywood Sign, normally a common occurrence. We sent a police car to check him out. Nothing!

Because of terrorism, airport lines have caused hours long delays. It now takes longer to go through the screening process at the airport than it takes to fly to Las Vegas. You can’t even go to a baseball game without being screened.

Bombs have been around for a long time but now they are in the everyday activities of citizens.


The Call Box

The Call Box: My Short Kidnapping Career

By Ed Meckle, retired LAPD

The 1970’s were known as the “Golden Age of Terrorism” even more so than today. With 9840 incidents with 7000 dead worldwide, the responsibles were the Black Guerrilla Army, Black September, Red Army, Irish Republican Army, Symbionese Liberation Army and on and on.


It’s 1974 in LA and the Patty Hearst media frenzy is in full swing: where is she? She is here, she is there, she is everywhere, she is nowhere. She has become “Tania” posing with the seven-headed cobra.


Except for an aborted attempt by mobster Mickey Cohen to run a con on the Hearst Family, we have managed to stay away from the circus—until now.


“We” are the Organized Crime Intelligence Division (OCID) of the Los Angeles Police Department. I have been assigned here since 1969. I am a lieutenant in my 18th year with the department. It is a very good assignment. No—actually, it is a great assignment and I not only love it, but I am very good at what I do.

My immediate boss is Captain Don E. Miller. He is serious, smart and pretty much by the book. I am now standing in front of his desk as he utters thes seven words, “They want you to kidnap Otis Chandler.”


I am seldom at a loss for words but managed, “Who is ‘they’?”


“They,” it turned out, is Ed Davis, the Chief of Police. During a “working lunch” with Otis Chandler and their respective staffs, the subject of Patty Hearst’s kidnapping, terrorism, assassination, etc. came up and Davis warned Chandler he could be a likely target. Chandler wouldn’t hear of it and boasted of his security at the Times Building.


I now assumed that Davis wanted to prove him wrong and assert “bragging rights.”


Let me explain who Otis Chandler is: since 1960 he has been the publisher of the LA Times, with the largest circulation west of the Mississippi. He is also one of the most powerful men on the west coast.

I asked, “Does the chief want me/us to get inside the fortress (Times Building), find and confront Chandler and do a “Gotcha?”


“Yes, and you can’t use police ID. Also, can you do it tomorrow?”


For some strange reason, the motto of the Seabees came to mind, “The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.”


As I sat at my desk I formulated a ridiculous plan that just might work.


More to follow—


More Street Stories

NYPD’s Bratton Highlights Plan to Reinvent Policing

I’d love to hear your thoughts about Bratton’s ideas. Use the comments box below. 


By Leischen Stelter, editor of In Public Safety


At the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police annual gathering of police chiefs from around the state, police commissioner of New York City William Bratton provided his perspective on the current state of policing in the country.

“The last 18 months has been a time of extraordinary challenges and opportunities for the profession,” said Bratton. “We have a new world of issues that we need to deal with, but there’s an old world of issues that are resurfacing.”


Bratton, whose law enforcement career spans more than 45 years, encouraged chiefs to learn from the past and not allow the profession to repeat the same mistakes.

“The world I came into as a young officer in the 1970s was in great turbulence with civil rights and issues of racial inequality,” he said. “There was great political unrest and rising crime…It feels like déjà vu all over again.”

One of the primary mistakes law enforcement made during that time period was focusing on responding to crime rather than focusing on the causes of crime and trying to prevent crime. This shift from prevention to response, coupled with officers being taken off beats and put into cars to cover larger areas, all contributed to the disengagement of officers with the public. This approach negatively impacted community relationships and its impact became evident across the country with high publicity protests and riots.

During his keynote, Bratton shared a plan that will continue fighting crime, but also help bridge the gap between police and minority communities and rebuild police morale. Bratton highlighted five strategic areas, referred to as the “5 Ts”, which form the foundation and focus of this plan.

Rebuilding Trust
One issue that has publicly and violently resurfaced around the country is the issue of trust, specifically the lack of trust of law enforcement officers and agencies by the public. This loss of confidence in policing stems around issues of race and police practices, as highlighted in riots in Ferguson and Baltimore.

This lack of trust goes beyond a loss of confidence in local agencies, said Bratton. The public has lost trust in the criminal justice system as a whole. For example, many people do not trust that district attorneys will pursue police-abuse allegations appropriately.

All of this needs to change, said Bratton. He emphasized that police chiefs need to work hard to rebuild community trust. “Going forward we must gain trust by winning back the communities we lost or never had,” he said. Reinstituting community policing practices is a good start and can help build stronger bonds between officers and community members.

[Related Article: Strong Community Relations Among the Lessons of Ferguson]

Chiefs also need to look inside their own departments to rebuild internal trust and boost officer morale. “Our police officers feel damaged by all of this and the morale in departments has suffered significantly,” he said. “Chiefs must work to rebuild trust of the community, of political leadership, of the media, and of police officers themselves.”

Fighting Terrorism
Another area of focus involves law enforcement’s role in the fight against terrorism. “American policing now has to spend a lot of time on a new form of crime: terrorism,” he said. Bratton said the NYPD has tactically trained and specially equipped 400 of its officers to protect and prevent a terrorist threat “in the likely event of an incident,” he said.

With the upsurge in terrorist attacks throughout the country and around the world, Bratton is realistic about the likelihood of more armed terrorist attacks in the city. “We want to have the capability and resources to respond quickly,” he said. One of the keys to fighting terrorism is training officers to be able to constantly and quickly adjust to unpredictable situations.

Embracing Technology
The effective use of technology is another focus of the NYPD. “Technology keeps officers better informed in the field,” he said. Soon, all 35,000 NYPD officers will be equipped with smartphones and tablets that have custom apps so officers have instant access to information. “No officer will have to come back to the station to work on a computer—they can do it all from the car,” he said.

Bratton also discussed the use of body-worn cameras. “It’s not the panacea like we want it to be, but it’s a great boon to policing,” he said. This technology is helping verify officer’s actions. “Policing is going to benefit from this technology, but the public and the profession don’t fully understand it yet,” he warned.

Training and Tackling Crime
Bratton also discussed the last two “T’s” of his plan: training and tackling crime. NYPD has a focus on enhanced training for officers as well as a plan to tackle crime by re-establishing community policing strategies.

Bratton’s parting message to the New York chiefs in attendance was one of future sharing and partnership. “At the NYPD we consider ourselves one of the country’s largest laboratories for policing,” he said. “We have a lot of resources that we’ve never had before and we have the ability to work with the leadership to improve the performance of our department and we will share those findings with you.”

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