By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD
Our lieutenant was a very nice, elderly gentleman awaiting retirement who has been with us for a very short time and has no idea of whom he supervises.
He was the “victim” when, while during pistol inspection, he stood with an empty gun pointed at Tom Ferry’s “netherlands,” Sully set off a fire cracker behind him, convincing him for a few seconds he had just shot one of his detectives. Enough background.
This lieutenant and his wife were childless and the love of his life (besides his wife) was the family car. A 1950’s something Oldsmobile 88, red and white, polished to perfection and the object of his affection. In short, he loved his car.
While at home one night, it was stolen. He was almost inconsolable. He nagged the auto theft team every day about the car and talked of nothing else.
On day 4 or 5, I sat at the squad table across from Sully while we both worked on reports. To this day, I will swear I “heard” the idea formulate in his mind. I looked up and he sat there with a faraway look in his eye and the hint of a smile. I gave him the “what’s up” eyebrow and he nodded toward the door. I followed to the records room, teletype section.
To the very young of you, a teletype was the then police method of reaching a lot of other agencies en masse.
Consulting the code book for proper and convincing numbers, et cetera, he composed something along the following lines:
From Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, be advised. On [date] 1st National Bank in Cedar City held up by following subjects.
Names of two made up persons with descriptions and CII (California Information and Identification-indicates a person has a rap sheet or criminal history with the state of California) numbers were here inserted.
The teletype went on to recount a gunfight in which bandits’ vehicle was riddled with bullets, a wild chase on back roads, minor collisions, more bullet holes until they were captured.
Particulars were inserted: weapons recovered and where stolen from; attention particular departments, suspects admit crimes your weapons, et cetera. Last: “Attention L.A.P.D. Wilshire dets (detectives) veh (vehicle) is your stolen, 1950′ Olds 88 red/white,” et cetera.
Veh impounded, many bullet holes, and damage. Please advise re: dispo (disposition) Not drivable.
Sully typed it–did not send, naturally, and took the only copy, inserting it into the lieutenant’s daily mail.
We sat back to watch.
When his “victim” read it, he stood and tried to walk in 2 or 3 directions at once, sat down, picked up the phone, put it back, stood up, sat down and just stared for a moment or two. The lieutenant suddenly turned and caught Sully and I watching him.
He pointed at us and nodded.
Then smiled. His car was eventually recovered undamaged.