Roll Call

Roll Call: Northeast Vice and the Loanee

By Mikey, Retired LAPD

Sunset BlvdWhen you are assigned to patrol on the LAPD, it’s mostly working the field with a lot of coppers. The situation also depends on the watch and division as well as the number of units in the field. In specialized unit assignments, the number of coppers is limited, depending on the task. I worked Northeast Division vice from 1978-1980. We had two supervisors and eight vice officers. In 1979, both of our supervisors took vacation at the same time, so patrol loaned us a patrol sergeant to watch over us. Now this supervisor wanted to make good on his loan, so he was very critical about us “doing it right.” I think you can see where this is going.

We are working hookers on Sunset Boulevard. Taking it one step further, we have a cab, yellow in color, with everything intact, the roof light, and a radio and a meter that actually works! I’m the driver and Gary from patrol is on loan to us—he looks very Asian Indian, dark complexion and his accent (made up) is spot on. Then we added a turban and we have a “trick” ready step out.

HookersThe first hooker to go down bought Gary’s accent and his want of “Elpoah.” That was a made-up thing, but the girls knew what he wanted. After a couple of arrests, the word got out. We hit a dry spell, Gary got out, and were about to call it when the sergeant asked me to drive the boulevard to check for any girls.

I stopped for a light at Sunset and Bronson and was sitting there when the back door flew opened and a woman said, “Highland and Melrose.”
Crap, hadn’t locked the door!

In the rear-view mirror, I saw a heavy-set woman and a skinny dude. Well, I am driving a cab and they don’t know I’m the heat, sooooo, I hit the meter and proceeded to Highland and Melrose. I pulled to the curve at the destination and the lady hands me $5.00 and says, “Keep the change.”

Heck, I hadn’t thought about that, making change. So, with the fare and tip, I proceeded back to the staging area and reported to the sergeant that no hookers were present, and I got a fare and a tip.

police yellling (2)_LI

The sergeant’s water broke, and he started his period, at the same time, right there and proceeded to melt down. “G#d D—n it, G#d D—n it, holy s**t, G#d D—n it!!! You, you, G#d D—n it!” This went on for what seemed a very long time but was 2-3 minutes.

The paper work was worth it!


During this time of the sergeant’s loan, it was Super Bowl time. The unit gets a tip that a certain bar in the division is getting kickbacks or “Vigorish” from customers who bet on sports pools. Vigorish is “a charge paid on a bet,” illegal in California.

So, two of the senior vice coppers are assigned to enter the bar, look the pool chart over, see what the pay off is at the end of a quarter and do the math. If the figures don’t add up and a “charge” is apparent, you’ve got Vigorish. The vice guys enter the bar as the remainder of the unit sets up outside in plain cars and “Code 5,” or stake out. We are listening to the game and shortly after the first quarter the coppers approach the sergeant’s car. We all duck into and alley to hear what the coppers have discovered.

They tell us that there is no Vigorish and that, wait for it…………they had won $125.00!

Yeah, they bought a square and won!

graphicstock-illustration-of-a-cartoon-angry-policeman-cop-_rFR6Esf2Kb_thumb“G#d D—n it, G#d D—n it, holy s**t, G#d D—n it!!! You, you, G#d D—n it!”

The two coppers told us that the paper work was worth it. Our supervisors came back from vacation and the loan sergeant went back to patrol. I don’t think he looked at the vice unit the same way as when he first started his loan.

Besides he looked better in uniform.

The Call Box

The Call Box: More Deuces Wild

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

I am now three years older and smarter (?) and working Vice with my regular partner, Frank Isbell. We find ourselves behind Hollywood’s exaggerated version of a deuce: curb to curb, then on the sidewalk, slowly through a red light then stops on green where he immediately falls asleep. Needless to say, working Vice, we are “dressed down” trying not to look “cop-like.” Our car however, is the cheapest version made and wouldn’t fool a child. Yet, it fooled the deuce.

We really, really didn’t want to get involved here but you do what you gotta do. Out of the car, he is a friendly and happy drunk. He asked who we were and when told, asked, “Are you sure?”

When asked to walk the line, he got to the end and took off running, yelling for help. With him in the back seat, we pulled into the station parking lot and he asked where we were going. When told it was the police station, he asked, “Are you sure?”

We walked into the watch commander’s office to get booking approval and he told the sergeant he didn’t think we were really the police and he was being kidnapped.

jailBy now, Frank and I realize we have not only a happy drunk but also a funny one. In the small holding jail, he got serious and asked me, please, not to book him for 502 V.C. (Drunk Driving) as he had several priors. I promised I wouldn’t but told him he was being booked for 23102 V.C. I didn’t, however, tell him the vehicle code had been completely re-written. 502 had become 23102.

Then he asked the jailer who he was. His response to the jailer was, “Are you sure?”

The Call Box

The Call Box: Not Miami Vice

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

Let me start with a disclaimer. I never watched the show. But it was impossible not to know of its existence. I did not own either a lavender or peach colored sport coat, white slacks (give me a break), loafers with no socks (nope), I did not live on a boat, have an alligator for a pet nor drive a Maserati. I do like Glen Fry and The Eagles, though. Oh, and I can count on one hand the extended gun battles I had with drug lords. To be really honest, I can’t remember any. I never understood the “vice” part. They never busted any hookers or bookmakers or even crap games. I guess it just sounded sexy. “Miami Vice.” That’s Hollywood for you. I was now a member of “University Vice.”


Frank Isbell and I had been promoted to vice from our beloved radio car. Frank to the “Prostitute Squad” and me to “Gambling.”


A little background: Home was the small ugly building attached to the east end of the station house. We had some battered desks, chairs and filing cabinets. Years before, the place had been a hamburger joint and the smell of old cooking oil was ever present. We had two old and tired cars. That might as well have “police” painted on the side in large red letters. 


The boss was Sergeant Bob Ryan. He worked days did all the sergeant-type stuff, you are supposed to do, books/paperwork, etc. He looked like your rumpled old uncle or the guy behind the deli counter. Even though he was not expected to make arrests, he was deadly as a john or trick when busting prostitutes. He did not have the “cop look.” Working for him on day shift, were two teams (2 men each) chasing bookmakers.




Now, making book was a felony and these teams busted their butts making cases only to have the courts treat it as a misdemeanor and levy a small fine.



Before I go on I should mention the “3 C’s:” commercial, conspicuous and complained of. Tradition says any city with a blatant or conspicuous vice problem is a “corrupt” city. We were guided by the 3 C’s: commercial—the dice and card games took a piece of the action, prostitutes— ‘nuff said. Conspicuous—gambling, no, but the ladies? Well, what can I say?  Complained of—irate wives with no paychecks and rivals would rat out the games and everybody, and I mean everybody (except the tricks), complained about the hookers—


                                                                                             more to follow next week