The Call Box

The Call Box: Singin’ in the Rain

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

I am working P.M. Watch Patrol (3A15) at the old University Station with Frank Isbell. We think almost as one. We are in our first partnership which is to last many years. Frank and I have just cleared the parking lot enroute to our patrol area. It is early evening, plenty of light and it has been raining for several days. I am driving.

Less than two minutes out, I turn north from Washington onto Vermont. Directly in front of us is a motorcycle, single male rider, young, no helmet (not then required).

It is listed on the “hot sheet” as stolen. I activated lights and siren.


As reported in a previous episode when the siren pitch goes up, the car slows down (hi- tech). We have solid reds on the roof looking like Mickey’s ears and no seatbelts. When you made a turn everything and everybody slid.

At the sound of the siren the motorcycle took off like the proverbial scared jack rabbit and left us like we were standing still. Frank put us in “pursuit” on the radio.

Side bar: during the first half of the 20th century street cars were a major form of transportation in L.A. All major streets had trolleys and naturally, tracks. At each stop was an area in the street bordered by heavy duty traffic “bumps.” Each was the size of a trash can lid in diameter standing 3 to 4 inches high to protect the passengers/pedestrians. Sounds primitive but that’s the way it was. 

It’s still raining and our hot motorcycle is walking away from us and has a full block lead.

As he approached Olympic Boulevard, a major intersection, we have been on him for about ten blocks. He is about to become a memory.

At this point everything slowed as the motorcycle hit one of the “bumps” at about 70 mph and went airborne.


We watched as it soared end over end, gaining an altitude of 12 to 15 feet. Bouncing once in the intersection without striking anything or anybody, it continued on its journey and crashed into the side of a store on the northwest corner.

The intersection is in a slight depression and had an inch or two of standing water. The rider propelled from the bike, hit the surface of the water like a flat stone skipped across the surface of a pond. He scrambled to his feet and was gone between the houses.

While examining the motorcycle, a citizen (we now had a small crowd) told me there was something laying in the intersection. It turned out to be a wallet. Want to guess who it belonged to??

Now, as if this isn’t improbable enough, our suspect shows up in the crowd. When I went to cuff him, he pleaded, “You can’t arrest me. It’s my birthday.”  We told him that only applied to adults. He was 16. He did smile, though, when we  sang “Happy Birthday” on the way to booking.

The really amazing thing is after going down at 70 mph he did not require medical treatment.

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