Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Hey, I’m a Good Guy!

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD


plainclothes copsI was working the Operations West Bureau Violent Crime Task force (OWB-VCTF). Now we were in plain clothes and I hadn’t shaved in three or four days, much to my wife’s disapproval. I was also wearing a wig. I hated long hair and my own dog didn’t recognize me when I came home late at night. We were assigned to a West LA neighborhood where a rash of street robberies were occurring. The suspect would follow home an easy-looking victim, then rob them when they got out of their car. Most were female or elderly.

Our unit consisted of ten officers, most looking more criminal than I did.  We were spread out over a fifteen-block area of mostly duplex units, favored by single working people. My partner, Rick Wermuth, and I were sitting on a dark side street. I secreted myself on a front porch of 4-plex building on a street corner. I had a view of both streets and liked my spot.  The building had big bushes next to the walkway obscuring the front doors.

I’d been sitting on the porch for about thirty minutes. Stake outs are never like they show on TV and my butt was getting sore. Just then a car pulls up on the corner. I can see it’s a young lone female. If our suspects are looking for a victim, she’s the perfect choice. I tense with anticipation. Only a cop would get excited about a crime about to happen in front of them. She gets out of her car and is not paying attention to her surroundings.

My partner, Rick is sitting on a tree stump across the street. man hiding in bushesHe’s in the dark, even I can’t see him.

The girl is fumbling through her purse for her house keys. I’m now praying, please don’t let this building be hers! Shit, she turns up the walkway right toward me.

This can’t get any worse, but it does!

I stand up and she jumps. She screams, “No,” at least three times. I’m sure she was thinking this is going to be her worst day ever.

I blurt out, “Wait I’m a good guy!”

Woman_in_rageShe is still in panic mode.

I grab my wallet which is holding my badge. She is now sobbing uncontrollably, frozen in her footsteps. I hand her my wallet, which I would never do under other circumstances. She takes my wallet and stares at the badge. I tell her look again there are pictures of my wife and kids. “I’m a good guy.”

She has calmed down a little until she sees my partner, Rick, come running across the street. Rick wanted to make sure she didn’t claw my eyes out.

I said, “He’s a good guy, too.”

She’s still sobbing and I can see she’s trembling. I would normally lecture her about checking her surroundings before getting out of her car but I can see she wouldn’t hear anything I said. I helped her get into her apartment. I heard her double lock her door. Rick and I decide this is still a good spot so I sit back down on the porch.

Rick returned to his tree stump.

Inside the apartment, I could hear the female on the telephone and describing her harrowing experience. She’s still sobbing. I feel a little sad for her but then she was lucky—I was a good guy!

I hope she checked her surroundings after that when she came home.

Now days, everyone has their eyes glued to their cell phone.




Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: Lost on Loan, part 3

By Hal Collier, retired LAPD

In my last Ramblings, I couldn’t find another officer who needed help when I was on loan to another division. This time I got lost looking for a whole police station. In November of 1980, Sarai Ribicoff, niece of US Senator Abraham Ribicoff was shot and killed during a street robbery in front of a restaurant in Venice Division. Sarai was also an editor for the LA Herald Examiner newspaper, so the murder was carried on the news for weeks.


A few weeks later, nine employees and two customers at a Bob’s Big Boy in West LA Division were herded into a walk-in freezer and shot-gunned during a robbery. Three died and several others were wounded. These all occurred in LAPD’s West Bureau which included West LA, Venice, Wilshire, and my Hollywood division.


Due to the continuing publicity, the West Bureau Deputy Chief formed a special squad of cops who were handpicked to combat the senseless crimes. They picked two officers from the four Bureau divisions and two other officers to even out the squad. 

I was one of the officers from Hollywood. 

We were to be called the Operation West Bureau (OWB) Violent Crime Task Force or OWB-VCTF. We were strictly plain clothes. Haircuts were optional as well as shaving. We kind of looked like the dirt bags we were hunting.

I’ll go into more detail of the OWB-VCTF in a later Ramblings.


So here we are working the four divisions of West Bureau. I’m again out of my comfort zone, except when we worked Hollywood. A couple of times we were assigned to work with Narcotics Division on Buy Bust operations. The Venice boardwalk was a prime location for buying drugs.

“Prime” means easy.


This particular Saturday, we were looking for bad guys. We had a female officer with us. She was wearing roller skates, as was common among the locals on the boardwalk. We weren’t supposed to buy narcotics but it was hard to resist an easy arrest. She made a buy and we sat the dope dealer in the back seat of the plain car I was driving. I headed to Venice Station when I realized I’ve never been there before. I asked my partner, “Do you know where Venice Station is?”

He was also an old-time Hollywood cop.  He said, “No.”


Our arrestee said, “Geez I got arrested by a couple of rookies.” I tried to tell him we were handpicked but he just laughed. Then in a sarcastic voice he told us the directions to the station.

We were embarrassed but never told this story until now! 



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