Roll Call

Roll Call: Just off Probation, Rampart ’74

By Mikey, Retired LAPD

lapd police carI was just assigned PM Watch patrol at Rampart Division and I’m excited that as a brand-new P-2, I’ll be working with another brand-new P-2!

Oh yeah, it doesn’t get any better than that and the best thing is that we get to make our own decisions! Real adults! So, I find that my partner is another Hispanic (We are both Mexicans. Just say it) and he is as excited as I am. We flip as to who is going to drive and the other partner is TGOTR, he is the “guy on the right.” He keeps the books and does the talking on the radio.

Before clearing we grab a cup of mud and discuss tactics, back up gun positions, driver officer’s responsibilities, passenger officer’s responsibilities, who is first up to scratch a traffic ticket, and so forth.

Pretty important stuff as you may not have the time to figure out these things if you get into deep serious. Then we discussed our training officers, supervisors, the hot records clerks, and most important, where we were going to take code 7, eat.

We were westbound Temple Avenue approaching Bonnie Brae Street when we see two guys in the middle of the street in a throw-down, one guy on top of another on the ground.

We go code 6 (busy) at the intersection and break up the fight. After the guys are handcuffed, we sit them on the curb and discover that they speak only Spanish.  S—t, cause neither of us “Hispanics” speaks the lingo worth a crap. We talked about it a long time before we made the decision—to request a Spanish speaker to our location. Then we did it.

The first to respond was our supervisor. He got out his cruiser, walked up to us and yelled, “What the hell kind of Mexicans are you two?”yell-311455_960_720

“Ones that don’t speak the language very good, Sarge.”

“You don’t speak English very well either.” He began. “If I ever find that you two possess more than $5. 00 between the both of you I’m gonna arrest you for theft, ’cause you are ripping off the city. Two Mexicans and you don’t speak Spanish.”

He shook his head as he walked off.

And from the curb came the spoken words, “He don’t like you, huh?”

Yup, from the jerk that was on top.

Roll Call

Roll Call: The Light Switch

By Mikey, Retired LAPD

LAPDofficersRiflesOne of my passions during my law enforcement career was officer safety and I preached it at every opportunity. Officer safety is a philosophy not a program; programs fail, and you can’t fail at officer safety. It is all about situational awareness. In terms of cognitive psychology, situational awareness refers to a decision-maker’s dynamic mental model of his or her evolving task situation. In other words, what you perceive, and your response is all about experience vs. the situation. It all starts at the threshold of the event. What do I have? Do I understand what I have? Can I handle the situation/event with what I have at my immediate disposal?

A good example was a radio call of a robbery in progress at a bank. As a training officer and his probationer rolled up to the front of the bank an armed suspect with a shot gun exited the front door. He saw the officers and immediately dropped the weapon. Back at the station the probationer asked the training officer why he hadn’t shot. He said he did not observe the suspect’s left shoulder drop or the barrel of the shot gun swing in their direction. If any of those two events had occurred, he said he would have shot. The training officer asked the probationer why she hadn’t shot, her answer, “’Cause you didn’t.”


LAPD SWAT exercise
LAPD SWAT training exercise


Another point I would emphasis is “partners can not get stupid at the same time, ever!” On the LAPD, the majority of patrol is conducted with “A” or two officer patrol cars. There are very few “L” or one officer patrol cars. On smaller agencies, “L” cars are the norm. Depending on the patrol policies of the agency, two or more “L” cars can be dispatched to a radio call, depending on the seriousness of the call. So, the point is made regardless. Cool heads must prevail, or partners will suffer the negative consequences of an internal/external investigation, lawsuit or termination. I responded to an officer involved shooting in Rampart in ’92. Because of the officer’s bill of rights, there are few questions me as a supervisor can ask. Before I asked the questions, one of the officers involved said, “Sarge, we didn’t get stupid at the same time. We didn’t get stupid at all. We just want you to know that.” They displayed effective controlled fire and communicated throughout the event. Guess they were listening at roll call training.


“O.W.B.E” or Over Whelmed by Events is not an option. Stay in control is the overall theme here. For some reason in critical situations that I have been in, I visualize a light switch. Who is going to turn it off? Is it my switch? Is this it, and is this how it ends? No, you work the problem because there is always something else to do. I have often said that if the light switch is turned off, it’s because, “I didn’t see it coming.”


In training, I put LAPD on the chalk board and ask the officers if they are willing to die for these letters? Next, I put a street gang name on the board and ask why a banger can take multiple gunshot hits and live? Because he willing to die for his gang and will continue to fight to the end. That’s what he lives for—expecting the worst. He expects the worst!

Most coppers don’t have that mind set going into a critical situation. A good example was a sergeant I worked for at Northeast Division in 1977. He rolled up on a ‘415 man with a gun’ call at a bar and as the sergeant entered the bar, alone, he confronted the man and was immediately shot. I am going to quote the sergeant. “I got shot and said to myself, well I’ve been shot so I guess I’m supposed to fall down.”

And that is what he did. He said he was lucky the guys didn’t stick around to see if he was dead.

I hope this ROLL CALL sends a message and stimulates some critical thinking.


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: More Practical Jokes

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Practical Joke:  I never passed up a chance to lighten the mood and when an opportunity presented itself I usually jumped at it. Now, sometimes it takes planning and some logistics are involved.


Here’s my story. I was eating at a small Italian restaurant with my partner and we were joined by Steve and his probationer, Coleen. We were on our second cup of coffee when Coleen excused herself to go to the bathroom. Coleen had blond hair and blue eyes and was a real looker. It was said she had a crush on Steve but then a lot of probationers had crushes on their first training officer. Coleen came back from the restroom and being a trained police officer, I noticed she had an embarrassed look on her face.  


mens bathroom.pngI asked if everything was ok and she said well sort of. I have interrogated hundreds of suspects so I pressed her for an answer. She said, “I’ll tell you but you have to promise not to tell anyone else, I’d be too embarrassed.”

Ok, we all promised!

Coleen said she went to the restroom and common with most women, she had to sit to take care of business. She was sitting and holding her gun belt up off the bathroom floor when in walked a man. This bathroom didn’t have stalls, so Coleen calmly said, “I’ll be done in a moment.” 

The man excused himself. She then discovered she had walked into the men’s bathroom. Being a rookie, she missed the men’s room sign on the door and the fact that a urinal is seldom in women’s bathrooms, and well, she’s not detective material, yet!

We kind of laughed but also understood her embarrassment, except for Steve. He started telling other officers around the station. I noticed Coleen’s uneasiness and asked her if she wanted to get even with Steve.

She jumped at the opportunity. I set my plan in motion. As with any good practical joke you may need some help. I included my wife who was often a co-conspirator in my pranks. I had her get an old granny bra from her mother. I slipped the bra into Steve’s riot helmet bag and told my sergeant that we needed to have a helmet bag inspection. The sergeant thought the plan was perfect. 

granny-bra-lenouveausoutiengorge1906After roll call the sergeant had all the officers line up with their helmet bags in the station car port. The sergeant would inspect every other helmet bag. He finally came to Steve’s.  The look on Steve’s face when a woman’s bra fell out of his bag was worth the price of admission. He was speechless and Coleen smiled all day.

Hell, I could have bought an expensive Wonder Bra and it would have been worth it.

Back to the blood and guts of patrol!  


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Probationers

By Hal Collier, LAPD Retired

We are happy that 35-year veteran Hal Collier is sharing his ‘stories behind the badge’ with us.

The story you are about to read is true, the names have been changed to protect the embarrassed. In thirty-five years as a police officer I have worked with hundreds of partners, some good, some not so good. Some have been great, some have caused me sleepless nights. This story will deal with probationers. All cops have worked with probationers, boots, and rookies. Hell, we were all probationers once. I was a training officer for over nineteen years, so I guess I could be a department expert.


My son is a training officer and he recently asked, “How much time will I get if I kill my probationer”? I told him, “None if you make it look like an accident.” 


My first night with a new partner was to get a little background. Not personal stuff, just looking for a common ground to talk about. If you spend eight hours in a police car with someone you need something to talk about. I would start out with “Why did you become a cop?” The following answers would amaze the department shrink. 


Female: “I’m looking for a husband, cops are clean and they have a good paying job.” 


Male: “This was the only job that paid close to my last job.” 


Female:  “I was making over a hundred grand a year but was bored with my last job.”   I heard that a lot from both male and females.  See? Money isn’t everything. 


Male:  “I want to right all the injustices done to my people.”


Male: I got into the wrong line at the civil service test. Ok, I made that one up but sometimes I think it applied.


I would ask what their hobbies or interests were to see if we had anything in common. One probationer asked what I liked and I said hunting. He said he didn’t think he could kill anything! Not what you want to hear from someone who might be asked to take a life to save yours or his. 


I had a female probationer with a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering. Nice girl but one night she didn’t talk for three straight hours. I like westerns, she liked science fiction. Her parents hated her because their culture didn’t like cops.


I had a female probationer, who sat in the car seat with her knee up on the seat and back turned toward her door, as if we were on a date. 


I had a male probationer who spoke five languages, unfortunately English wasn’t one of them.


I had a female, just off probation, tell me she felt sorry for the male probationers. I asked why and she said that all she had to do to make probation was sleep with her training officer. I wasn’t surprised because her reputation had preceded her.


In the early 70’s, I would ask, “Did you ever cruise Hollywood Boulevard?  Most would say “Yes.”  I’d tell them that my wife and I cruised Hollywood during our dating years. I would then tell them that they were now paid to do what they use to do for nothing, and if we saw something interesting we could stop and question that person. I remember they interviewed an officer on why you would become a police officer. He said, “They pay me $60,000 a year. They give me a gun and a club, a new car and tell me to go out and look for trouble. What a great job.”


Probationers come from all walks of life. Some were Vietnam veterans, some from small towns in the mid-west. Some were married, some divorced. Regardless of where they came from, most were about to become Los Angeles Police Officers.


What I’m about to tell you next is not news to anyone who ever wore the badge. Being a cop gets into your blood. It’s like an E-Ticket at Disneyland or a roller coaster ride. Hours of boredom, followed by thirty seconds of sheer terror. When there’s gun fire, most people are running away, the cops are running toward the shots. It’s not about the money, because most business people have better hours, and pay. 


Not everyone is cut out to be a cop—it takes a lot of desire and sacrifice. I heard of a recruit that said he had to have weekends off because he dated a lot. A probationer is lucky if they get one weekend off a month. They’ll work all the holidays, miss birthday parties, anniversaries and graduations. It’s a known fact that if you have five days off and a trip planned, you get a court subpoena for the middle day. The kiss of death is telling your partner you need to get off on time. 


The hardest to teach were the naive. They led a sheltered life and think all people have a little good in them. I remember a female probationer from Texas. She had a degree in interior decorating. She lost her job and came to L.A. One day at start of watch she asked her training officer why we keep dynamite in the trunk of the police car. Her training officer, trying to keep a straight face, informed her they were road flares.


Another male probationer went out in the middle of a cold night to sit in the police car while his training officer finished up some paper work. When the training officer got into the car the probationer remarked that the car heater was broken. The training officer started the car and the heater came on full blast. The probationer didn’t know that the ignition had to be turned on for the heater to work. I think he’s now employed as a Wal-Mart greeter in Bakersfield.


Being a training officer wasn’t easy but damn it was sure fun!


Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Females, Part 2–On Patrol

By Hal Collier

The following stories are true and again are only my opinions.  I’m sure that other officers of both sexes have different views of female officers in the LAPD.  I welcome hearing from anyone.

In the early 70’s, most people didn’t think women should or could be police officers.  Even Chief of Police Edward M. Davis was against women working patrol.  I worked with a lot of females throughout my career and they had a lot of different reasons for joining and diverse backgrounds.

Here are a few.

One female officer said she was looking for a husband, cops have a good steady job, they’re clean, (disease free) and they’re in good shape.  Another said she was an interior decorator in Texas and came to California for work. She found out that everyone in California was an interior decorator, so she applied to be a cop.  She was the one who thought we carried dynamite (road flares) in the trunks of our police cars.

I worked with one female who drove an expensive BMW and had expensive clothes.  In her previous job, she made double my salary, so I asked her why work for LAPD?  She said the money was nice but her job was boring.  She was looking for some excitement.  She found it on the LAPD.  Quite a few said it was the only job they could find with benefits.  We had one female probationer who arrived at work each morning, dressed like she just slid off the pole at a strip club.  She was not retained when it was discovered she was dating both her male training officers at the same time.  A few slept their way through probation and promotions.

LAPD women
LAPD women

I was a training officer for over twenty-one years and worked with a lot of probationers or “rookies,” as some called them.  As I stated in my first Ramblings, I worked morning watch with one of the first female police officers.  My wife didn’t like that I was working with a female, alone all night.  I discovered that my wife was not the Watch Commander at work, only at home.

The first thing I noticed was that on almost every call you had a back-up unit.  As I stated, we were a good old boys club and most men didn’t think females could do the job.  Some of the officers were there to save my butt, if need be, and others were there hoping the female would fail.

I’ll never forget my first fight with a female partner.  It’s Christmas Eve and we get a domestic dispute radio call.  Two brothers, drunk, get into an argument and one punches the other in the nose, breaking it.  The brother with the broken nose wants his brother arrested for battery.  No problem, right? A simple citizen arrest and report.  We might even get off on time.

We handcuff the brother and put him in our police car.  I’m driving, of course, and sitting in the police car.  My female partner is in the back seat with the drunk brother.  Just as I’m about to drive away the brothers’ mother comes running out and says, “You’re not arresting my son on Christmas Eve.”  She reaches in the driver’s window and grabs me by the neck.  I open the car door and knock the mother to the ground.  She’s about 110 pounds and I later learn, a 60 year old grammar school teacher.  I step out and she jumps up and attacks me.  I grab her arm and spin her around in a rear wrist lock.  I hear a familiar snap. Oh shit, I just broke her arm.

This can’t get any worse right, wrong.  The son, handcuffed in the back seat screams, “What are you doing to my mother?”  My partner comes to assist me in handcuffing the now one armed school teacher.  The son begins kicking the door window of our police car.  My partner subdues him with a few punches to the ribs.  Everyone goes to jail for Christmas except the son with the broken nose.

There were changes to be made and it wasn’t going to be the women who changed.  Think of it as a marriage, who changes?  First, the men had to stop swearing in roll call, although some of the females swore like a sailor.  Next, no more blond jokes or for that matter all female gender jokes were banned.  No more jokes on how many female officers does it take to screw up a crime scene.

LAPD officers
LAPD officers

Women as a rule were of smaller stature, which presented a whole new set of issues.  Some of the shorter women couldn’t close the police car trunk from the back bumper.  They had to step to the side fender where they could reach the trunk lid.  In the 70’s, all the police cars had bench seats.  Go ahead—let your 5 foot 3 inch partner drive and spend the night with your knees in the dash for eight hours.

I’m going to leave you with one more female cop story.  I’m not working with a female this night and a “robbery just occurred” call comes out.   A female officer arrives and puts out a crime broadcast.  She describes the suspect, male white, 6-0, 180 pounds last seen westbound Sunset in a fuchsia colored Ford.  It might have been the interior decorator.  I look at my male partner and ask what the hell color is fuchsia.    Most of us good old boys never graduated past the primary colors, you know the ones that make up a rainbow.  After 35 years as a big city cop, I still don’t know what color fuchsia is.

Next Ramblings, why I liked working with female partners.     Hal

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