Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Cop Dreams

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

sweet dreamsThink back to the days when you were very young.  Your mom or dad would put you in bed and maybe kiss you on the forehead and say, “have sweet dreams.” Why did they have to say dreams? You were afraid to go to sleep in your bed.  Some nights there were monsters under the bed or the monsters were in the closet. Didn’t matter—they were someplace in the room. You’d wake up screaming for your mom! If you had parents who never read Dr. Spock they might let you sleep in their bed for the night.

Flash forward a few years, now you’re in school and the monsters are gone but so are your pajamas, that’s right you’re naked in class. Who hasn’t had that dream?

You somehow reach adulthood and if you’re lucky you’re no longer naked in public. Now you’ve moved on to adult night mares. You wake up in the middle of the night asking yourself, did I pay the electric bill or what will they ask me at the IRS audit next week?  My point is that you will always have bad dreams!

cant sleepI’m about to describe some other bad dreams that sneak into what was supposed to be a restful night. That’s right cop dreams. Now, I don’t want some $300 dollar an hour doctor to analyze my dreams. I have enough things to think about when I lay my head on the pillow.

Early in my cop career, I had visions of bad guys trying to do me harm but one dream really stands out. I was in Hollywood just south of Hollywood Boulevard in a parking lot. I was chasing this dirt bag in a trench coat. I got within 50 feet of him when he suddenly turns and is now holding a machine gun. Oh, crap. I dive behind a parked car and make myself as small as I can behind the front wheel. Bullets are hitting the ground all around me. I suddenly have a shotgun. Don’t ask me to explain where it came from. I pump a shell into the chamber and without looking I reach around the front tire and fire off all five rounds at where I think the dirt bag is standing.



I’d love to tell you I filled the asshole with double OO buck from the shotgun but, no. I suddenly sat upright in my bed. My heart raced and I was sweating. I tried to reason—it’s  only a dream, but I really would rather have been naked at my high school prom! Guess how much sleep I got that night.

I had many cop dreams during my 35-year career. They usually involved not being able to run from danger and the worst were that my gun wouldn’t fire. It jammed or I couldn’t pull the trigger. Now, I didn’t have these every night or in my case sleeping during the day, but I still had them every so often.  I sometimes punctuated my dreams verbally. That’s right, I talked in my sleep or better said, I yelled. That usually woke up my wife and the dog, and it explained why the cat slept in the other room.

 man and wife sleepingAfter thirty-five years of sometimes violent encounters, I retired. I assumed that after a while the dreams would be replaced by dreams of retired old folks. Wrong! I’ve been retired for over 12 years and I still wake up punching my pillow or yelling out to halt! In these dreams, I sometimes have partners that I haven’t seen or talked to in decades.

 This upsets my wife and dog very much. I can now go back to sleep rather quickly but my wife tells me in rather stern terms that I need to sleep in another room. Sometimes she suggests I sleep in another county.

I asked around and found that most cops, retired or not, have these dreams.  You can take off your badge, and throw away those uniforms, you might even lose contact with old partners but the dreams will always come back. They’re deep inside of a cop’s head for life. You just never know when they’ll resurface!  


P.S. Do you still have cop dreams?

Roll Call

Roll Call: Accidental Discharge

By Mikey, Retired LAPD

…or “how I almost got fired,” as a recruit!


250px-LAPDacademyIt was probably the second month of my LAPD academy training and we were in formation preparing to march up to the combat range to do some shooting. Now at that time, in 1973, we were issued a small canvas bag which held our practice ammunition and on top of the stack were our .38 caliber dummy rounds (6) affixed to a speedy loader. They were clip mounted side by side. I asked my shooting instructor if anyone had ever accidently placed a live round in the loader instead of the dummy round. I heard him because I was there: He said, “It’s never happened and that is why you check each other’s bag.”



So now we are at the range facing a 4’ wall practicing “dry fire” as we wait our turn to step onto the range. I pull the trigger 6 times open the cylinder and with speedy loader in hand insert the dummy rounds. I pull the trigger once, twice and on the third pull, a round went off. Oh yeah, a live round that is not supposed to be there because my instructor said it had never happened. Because I was still looking at the little hole I created in the wall, my instructor says n my right ear, “Did you just try to make a point with me?” 


Before I could answer, he said, “Get the hell of my range.”

Now I am sitting in the locker room contemplating my future with the LAPD. I thought about calling my former employer and asking if my job was still there. But I knew they’d ask why I’m asking so I nixed that.  Thought about calling my wife and telling her, but I didn’t want to mess up her day. So, I’m just sitting there when my squad advisor, a senior training officer tells me to go home and bring all of my LAPD stuff back in the morning. I car pool with a classmate and tell him we should ride separately to the academy in the morning. That night I shared with my wife the events of the day and told her I’d be fired in the morning. Not a good night.

Next morning, I’m sitting in class when my squad advisor opens the classroom door. The next words are doom to any recruit: he says, “Get your hat and books and come with me.”


I do not look at my classmates, as we’d discussed my departure during morning inspection. So here I go. I am standing outside the Training Division commanding officer’s office thinking of all it took to get here, just to end it like this, when the door opens and I am motioned in by the squad advisor. Counting him there are 5 training division staffers seating at a very long table, just staring at me.


Oh, and my shooting instructor is there as well giving me that look that says, “You got yours rookie.”

The captain pounds his finger on a folder, my personal package, and the following exchange takes place:

“You are a Vietnam Veteran.”

“Yes, sir,” I answer.

“Came to us from another agency.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Attended their academy?”

“Yes, sir”

“Anything like this occur there?”

“No, sir”

“Did you do that on purpose; load a live round into your weapon?”

So, the questions had been pretty good up until this one. This one just spring loaded me to the pissed off position. 

“Absolutely not, Captain.”

“What happened, recruit?”

“Sir, I do not know what happened and I offer no excuse.”

“Did your squad leader check your ammo bag?”

Oh, crap I thought. No, he hadn’t because I was asking my instructor the infamous question about mixing up the ammo.

“No sir.”

Now the Captain is looking at my shooting instructor.


So, for the next, however long it took, I explained the situation and added that I still did not know how that live round got where it did. I was told to go stand outside of the office. For approximately 10 very long minutes I waited. Do you know what goes through your head at a time like this? What would have gone through yours? Exactly!

I am asked to reenter and the captain states the following;

“You will resume your training, with your class because we think you are worth keeping. You will maintain yourself as professionally as possible and I do not want to hear about you until your graduation day or you break some training division recruit record.”

Well, I still had a job. I left the office, went down to my VW bug, sat down and cried. Yup, I did. Looking at my watch, I knew my class would be at code 7 (lunch) so I proceeded to the picnic area of the academy and found my class. They were so loud with their shouts of approval that I just knew I’d be getting called back to the captain’s office. It was good to be back with my classmates and it was good to have been given a rare second chance.

That was 1973. In 1979, I was a training officer at Northeast Division and discovered that my new rookie was the son of my academy shooting instructor. It all turned out good.

You see, my instructor was instrumental in saving my job.

%d bloggers like this: