By Ed Meckle, retired LAPD
The 1970’s were known as the “Golden Age of Terrorism” even more so than today. With 9840 incidents with 7000 dead worldwide, the responsibles were the Black Guerrilla Army, Black September, Red Army, Irish Republican Army, Symbionese Liberation Army and on and on.
It’s 1974 in LA and the Patty Hearst media frenzy is in full swing: where is she? She is here, she is there, she is everywhere, she is nowhere. She has become “Tania” posing with the seven-headed cobra.
Except for an aborted attempt by mobster Mickey Cohen to run a con on the Hearst Family, we have managed to stay away from the circus—until now.
“We” are the Organized Crime Intelligence Division (OCID) of the Los Angeles Police Department. I have been assigned here since 1969. I am a lieutenant in my 18th year with the department. It is a very good assignment. No—actually, it is a great assignment and I not only love it, but I am very good at what I do.
My immediate boss is Captain Don E. Miller. He is serious, smart and pretty much by the book. I am now standing in front of his desk as he utters thes seven words, “They want you to kidnap Otis Chandler.”
I am seldom at a loss for words but managed, “Who is ‘they’?”
“They,” it turned out, is Ed Davis, the Chief of Police. During a “working lunch” with Otis Chandler and their respective staffs, the subject of Patty Hearst’s kidnapping, terrorism, assassination, etc. came up and Davis warned Chandler he could be a likely target. Chandler wouldn’t hear of it and boasted of his security at the Times Building.
I now assumed that Davis wanted to prove him wrong and assert “bragging rights.”
Let me explain who Otis Chandler is: since 1960 he has been the publisher of the LA Times, with the largest circulation west of the Mississippi. He is also one of the most powerful men on the west coast.
I asked, “Does the chief want me/us to get inside the fortress (Times Building), find and confront Chandler and do a “Gotcha?”
“Yes, and you can’t use police ID. Also, can you do it tomorrow?”
For some strange reason, the motto of the Seabees came to mind, “The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.”
As I sat at my desk I formulated a ridiculous plan that just might work.
More to follow—