The Call Box

The Call Box: Two Short But True Stories

polic-call-box-pedestal-lapd-gamewell-DCAL2786_dt1By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

In May of 2016 when Thonie agreed to give my tales a chance I realized that with a fading memory it would be best to create a list of story ideas as they would occur to me. My handwriting has deteriorated so over the years that when I went to examine the list I got one of three results.

1) I think that will make a good story

2) What the hell was I thinking ?

3) What the devil is “finat whreps snangle”?

Moving my list to the computer helped along with using complete words.

diceHere then are two completely unconnected events in the life and times of Ed Meckle.

Working vice was a real blast. Plain clothes after time in uniform was a little strange but good partners along with a fun assignment made coming to work a pleasure. As the newest guy on the detail I got all the “interesting” jobs, like going through bedroom windows in the middle of the night.

Assigned primarily to gambling enforcement meant arresting “illegal gamblers.” Finding the games was easy. We had a list of regular locations and tips were plentiful. Games usually held in private homes, were so noisy they could be heard a block away. One of us (me) would gain quiet entry to the house and open the door for my partners.

On this occasion I was in plain clothes, going through a back-bedroom window about six feet off the ground. The hour was late and the light in the room was very dim. They boosted me up and as I went through I lost my balance. I fell about 2-3 feet landing on a bed on top of a sleeping male.

Now stop for a moment and think what your reaction would be under these circumstances. I know mine but that’s not what I got.

Sitting bolt upright, he said, “DAMN OFFICER, YOU SCARED ME HALF TO DEATH.”


bus stop silhouettesI have tried to be as circumspect as possible with what follows out of respect for any female readers.


I was working Metro with my regular partner Frank Isbell and we were in uniform in a black and white, assigned to some daytime detail or another in Hollywood.

We were east bound on Hollywood Boulevard crossing Cahuenga. Frank was driving. On the southeast corner was a bus bench occupied by three people with another half dozen standing behind them.

The center person on the bench was a twenties something male with a bouncing newspaper on his lap, head back and eyes closed.

I said, “Bus bench.”

Frank replied, “Got it.”

Three right turns brought us north on Cahuenga to Hollywood. We parked, approaching on foot. Paper was still bouncing, and he still was unaware of our presence.

One of us removed the newspaper. Here goes—he was having carnal knowledge of a cantaloupe. {honest, that’s the best I could do, people}

At the station, we had to admit we don’t have a victim, so he goes to jail for traffic warrants.

I can just hear Hal saying, “OK, so what did he do wrong? This is after all Hollywood!”

More Street Stories

Donut County Cop: Cop Brain

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About the Author


Random thoughts of a suburban cop at a department bordering a major US city…because blogging is cheaper than therapy.



More Street Stories Writer's Notes

4 Rules of Writing Cops: Avoiding The WRIAMY (Wouldn’t Read in a Million Years) Pile


re-posted from Lee Lofland’s The Graveyard Shift

If you have any accuracy pet peeves, add them to Lee’s list in the comment section below. I’d particularly like to hear from law enforcement officers, dispatchers, etc. What makes you want to throw a book across the room? –Thonie

1. Use caution when writing cop slang. What you hear on TV may not be the language used by real police officers. And, what is proper terminology and/or slang in one area may be totally unheard of in another. A great example are the slang terms Vic (Victim), Wit (Witness), and Perp (Perpetrator). These shortened words are NOT universally spoken by all cops. In fact, I think I’m fairly safe in saying the use of these is not typical across the U.S.

2. Simply because a law enforcement officer wears a shiny star-shaped badge and drives a car bearing a “Sheriff” logo does not mean they are all “sheriffs.” Please, please, please stop writing this in your stories. A sheriff is an elected official who is in charge of the department, and there’s only one per sheriff’s office. The head honcho. The Boss. All others working there are appointed by the sheriff to assist him/her with their duties. Those appointees are called DEPUTY SHERIFFS. Therefore, unless the boss himself shows up at your door to serve you with a jury summons, which is highly unlikely unless you live in a county populated by only three residents, two dogs, and a mule, the LEO’s you see driving around your county are deputies.

3. The rogue detective who’s pulled from a case yet sets out on his own to solve it anyway. I know, it sounds cool, but it’s highly unlikely that an already overworked detective would drop all other cases (and there are many) to embark on some bizarre quest to take down Mr. Freeze. Believe me, most investigators would gladly lighten their case loads by one, or more. Besides, to disobey orders from a superior officer is an excellent means of landing a fun assignment (back in uniform on the graveyard shift ) directing traffic at the intersection of Dumbass and Mistake.

4. Those of you who’ve written scenes where a cocky FBI agent speeds into town to tell the local chief or sheriff to step aside because she’s taking over the murder case du jour…well, get out the bottle of white-out because it doesn’t happen. The same for those scenes where the FBI agent forces the sheriff out of his office so she can set up shop. No. No. And No. The agent would quickly find herself being escorted back to her guvment vehicle.

The FBI does not investigate local murder cases. I’ll say that again. The FBI does not investigate local murder cases. And, in case you misunderstood…the FBI does not investigate local murder cases. Nor do they have the authority to order a sheriff or chief out of their offices. Yeah, right…that would happen in real life (in case you can’t see me right now I’m giving a big roll of my eyes).

Okay, I understand you’re writing fiction, which means you get to make up stuff. And that’s cool. However, the stuff you make up must be believable. Not necessarily fact, just believable. Write it so your readers can suspend reality, even if only for a few pages. Your fans want to trust you, and they’ll go out of their way to give you the benefit of the doubt. Really, they will. But, for goodness sake, give them something to work with—without an info dump, give readers a reason to believe/understand what they’ve just seen on your pages. A tiny morsel of believability goes a long way.

But if you’re going for realism, then please do some real homework. I say this because I started reading a book this weekend (notice that I said “started”) and I’d barely made it halfway through the first chapter when I tossed it into my WRIAMY pile (Wouldn’t Read In A Million Years). This was a ARC a publisher sent me to review, by the way.

It was obvious the author was going for realism, and it was also painfully obvious the writer’s method of research was a couple of quick visits to the internet and maybe a viewing of one or two of the Police Academy movies.

So, is there a WRIAMY pile in your house?

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Fighting in Uniform: The Worst and the Longest

This will be the last Ramblings on fighting in uniform.  As I said before I didn’t fight a lot but sometimes I just couldn’t talk my way out of wrestling match.

I worked a few plain clothes assignments but never vice.  Vice officers are always fighting.  They get a violation and the criminal either decides he’s not going to jail on a morals charge, or he claims that he didn’t know it was a cop.  Suspects always use the defense they didn’t know it was a cop when arrested by a plain clothes officer.

Ironic that all the times I was dressed for a fight, you know jeans, tennis shoes and an old shirt, I never had to fight.

Not all my fights were with men as you might expect.  I was brought up to never hit a girl but once as a child I learned a valuable lesson.  My sister had been picking on me and hit me.  I hauled off and hit her back.  She never hit me again. Hum.

It’s December 24 at about 3 A.M.  My partner a female and I get a domestic family dispute call.  We arrive and expect it to be a husband/wife dispute.  No, it’s brother against brother and both have been drinking.  Brother “A” punches brother “B” in the nose, breaking it.  Brother “B” demands a citizen arrest of brother “A”.  Both brothers are in their 30’s and by law we are required to accept the arrest.

Brother “A” gets handcuffed and placed in the back seat of our police car.  I’m about to drive off when the boys’ mother, also drunk, races out of the house and screams, “You’re not taking my son to jail on Christmas Eve!”  She reaches in my open window and grabs me around the neck.  I swing open the car door and knock mom to the ground.

As I step out of the car, Mom attacks me. Mom is about 5′ 3″ and 100 lbs. soaking wet.  I declined using the department approved choke hold and go for a rear wrist lock. I’m thinking it will be more humane for a little old lady.  I hear a familiar snap sound—shit, I broke her arm.  Mom and the son both went to jail on Christmas Eve.  Mom first stopped off at an emergency room to have her arm set.


Police grab a union worker as others protest during a tense moment as union workers block a grain train in Longview, Wash.,  Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011.   Longshoremen  blocked the train as part of an escalating dispute about labor at the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Police grab a union worker as others protest during a tense moment as union workers block a grain train in Longview, Wash., Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. Longshoremen blocked the train as part of an escalating dispute about labor at the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview.
(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Another time I’m walking a Morning Watch foot beat.  We are walking thru an alley just south of Hollywood Boulevard at Highland.  We see two guys and a girl standing next to a parked car.  They are acting suspicious and we approach in the dark.  When we get up on the car we see a second girl crouched down.  I walk up on the girl, she screams, jumps up and grabs my badge.


Cops are very protective of two things.  Their gun (which if taken away from them will get them killed) and their badge.  The badge is earned and carried with a cop at all times.  An officer keeps the same badge throughout their careers unless they promote.  Most cops shine it every day before pinning it on their uniform and if shined enough the windows of City Hall were rubbed smooth.  My badge said “Policeman”.  Later, when females were hired for patrol, the badges said “Police Officer.”  I use to say that I spent more time sleeping with my badge than I did with my wife.


Anyway this young girl grabs my badge and is attempting to rip it from my uniform shirt.  Without even thinking, I grab the girl by the neck and lifted her with one hand and threw her on the hood of the car.  The girl had been to a club drinking and when they got to their car, she decided she had to pee.  She squatted down when we walked up on her.  She was embarrassed being caught and even more embarrassed when she went to jail.  Yea, she made a complaint against me.


This last story involved the longest fight I was ever in.  The Hollywood Palladium in the 70’s was notorious for booking rock groups.  With rock groups, comes drug abuse.  I’m working with Officer Bob and we get a call of a 415 Man (disturbing the peace) a block from the Palladium.  The citizen says this guy was running around in his yard acting crazy and jumped over his fence.  He went east.  We tell the citizen the standard Adam 12 line, “We’ll check it out.”  We get back in our car and drive east.  We only travel a few houses when another resident runs out and asks us if were looking for the drunk nut.   The resident says he sitting in his driveway.  Oh crap, we’ll have to take the drunk downtown to book and it will take us a couple of hours.


We walk up the driveway and see our suspect sitting in some tall grass.  He’s looks stoned and I can’t see his hands due to the grass.  I walk behind him and grab his hands.  As he stands up he digs his heels in the ground and throws me back against a block wall.  I apply a department approved choke hold as taught to me by Bob Jarvis at the Police Academy.


This suspect is only about 5′ 6″ and a 130 lbs.  I’m 6′ and 160 lbs. of a fighting machine.  My partner, Bob is a weight lifter and very strong.  Somehow my choke hold slips and this little guy refuses to pass out.  I’m trying to reapply the choke hold and Bob is whacking the suspect across the shins with his baton.  Both of these tactics just anger our suspect.  I vividly remember Bob throwing his baton away and ripping his clip on tie from his shirt and jumping in to control this drug crazed lunatic.


We can each control an arm, but when we try to pull his arms behind him, so we can handcuff him, he gets a burst of strength.  We’re rolling around on the ground for a good ten minutes.  With our body weight we can keep him pinned to the dirt.  We count, 1, 2, 3, and swing his arms behind his back.  After 5 minutes we get one hand cuffed. 1,2,3, pull his arms back, this time we were inches from cuffing him.  This goes on for another 10 minutes, 1,2,3, ah shit we almost had it that time.  After a long time we get this little guy cuffed.  The resident watched from his kitchen window and couldn’t believe the strength of the little guy.  We would need him as a witness later when our suspect made a complaint against us for excessive force.


We booked our suspect at Hollywood Jail and the next day he couldn’t walk to the Sheriffs bus due to the whacks across the shins.  We had a couple of interviews with Internal Affairs and were cleared of the charges.  Our suspect was loaded on PCP.


There’s a funny ending to this story.  Six months later, I get a radio call to an apartment regarding a loud party.  We knock on the door and the owner gets right in my face about what a brutal cop I am.  That’s right it was the little guy I ruined a uniform fighting with.  I run him for warrants and sure enough, he didn’t show up for court on a traffic ticket.  I can’t arrest him in his residence at that late hour due to a law.  I advise him to take care of his warrant and he tells me to do something anatomically impossible and said something about my mother.


The law restricted his arrest in his apartment until 6:00 A.M.  At 6:01 A.M. that same morning, I knocked on his door and asked him if he had taken care of that warrant.  He said he hadn’t.  Guess what, he went to jail again.  Don’t talk about a cop’s mother.


As I said before I didn’t like fighting, even when you win, you lose.  Torn uniforms, Citizen Complaints, but thank goodness your skin grows back. 



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