By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD
It was either 1960 or 61 when my partner, Frank Isbell and I caught the dream job for the summer: we were assigned to work the night watch at Dockweiler State Beach. It was at the very end of Imperial Highway where it crossed a quiet frontage road just south of L.A.X. As you crossed the road you continued on to a huge man-made berm or bluff which over looked the beach and ocean. It was strictly a picnic area as there were a hundred or more large concrete fire rings on the beach. Where you drove into the area, on this bluff was a fairly good-sized building with glass all around. This was the H.Q. for the people who ran the parking lots/the lifeguards and us, the police. From this bluff you had a commanding view of the entire area.
The assignment was really a piece of cake as the beach attracted mostly family or church or school groups all usually well behaved. We had a Jeep donated by the lifeguard service to drive the beach area which aside from the fire rings consisted of a paved parking lot. Crowds usually numbered in the hundreds and as previously stated was family oriented—with some exceptions. We usually drove the area slowly to ”show the flag” as they say. Then up top to drink coffee and watch with binoculars. At closing time, nine or ten p.m., they would blink the parking lot lights. Families would begin packing up to leave and all would be gone on time.
Not this night. As the last of the families drove away, we noticed two males still on the beach—drinking, a no-no. We blinked the lights again and used the ”bull horn” to advise them to leave.
In a very loud voice the pair told us to commit a lewd act upon ourselves. Not very polite. They were advised the gates would be locked in five minutes and they and their vehicle would spend the night (a bluff, of course). A few minutes we heard breaking glass. Looking through the binocs, we saw them taking glass bottles from the trash and breaking them on the parking lot. Bad language is one thing; this could not pass. This was our house and you don’t act like that in our house.
We stopped them at the gate and they were escorted back to the parking lot and told to pick up every piece of glass.
One of them said, “But officer, we are barefooted.”
Frank and I replied as one, ”We noticed, now get busy.” There were no brooms available, dustpans nor anything to carry the glass but their hands and arms.
Twenty minutes later, we were satisfied and they were released. There were bloody footprints everywhere and it looked like some crazy crime scene.
I can just imagine the consequences if we did that today. God help me, I loved the job.