Ramblings by Hal

When Are Cops Really “Off Duty”?

 By Hal Collier

When are cops off duty and when can they relax?  My answer, never!  Ok, I don’t take a gun into the shower at home like one officer said he did, but I’ve been retired for eight years and I’m still looking around for trouble.  No, I’m not going to take police action but I’m certainly going to protect my family.  Then you never know when that cop buried in you will rise above your control.


I’ll bet there isn’t a cop alive who hasn’t run into some dirt bag he’s arrested, but now you’re off duty.  Did he bring his gun? Did you bring yours?  You both make eye contact and immediately your mind races, where do I know him from?


I once walked into the lobby of the Hollywood Police Station and an attractive lady was sitting on the bench.  She smiled and said hi as I walked by.  I snubbed her although her face was familiar.  I’m thinking have I arrested her?  I sit down in the report writing room and Alan, a fellow officer says, “Hal, how was your night?”  That real dim light comes on in my brain.  Shit, that lady was Alan’s wife. I knew her from our softball games.  I darted out her and apologized saying I had a bad night.  I never told her or Alan that I couldn’t place her face and thought she might have been a prostitute I encountered.  On duty, of course!


So ask yourself when is a cop really off duty?  Do you ever let your guard down and if you do will it cost you your life?


August 21, 1975, LAPD Officers John Hall and J.J. Bryan are having Code 7 (eating off duty) at the IHOP at Sunset & Orange in Hollywood.  Coincidentally I’m eating six blocks away at the Copper Penny at Sunset and Hudson.  Hall and Bryan finished eating and as they enter their police car an emergency call comes out.  They sped out of the IHOP parking lot.  It saved their lives.



Sara Jane Olson
Sara Jane Olson

Kathleen Soliah, aka Sara Jane Olson, a member of the SLA [Symbionese Liberation Army], had placed a large pipe bomb under their police car.  The bomb failed to detonate by 1/16 of an inch.  The bomb would have killed both Hall and Bryan as well as a large number of patrons in the restaurant.  My police car might have been targeted but I was sitting in a window seat and could see my car on the street.  Up until the day I retired, thirty years later, I looked under my police car for bombs before driving away.  See my Ramblings about the time I found a hand grenade in my police car.


November 29, 2009, four members of the Lakewood Washington Police Department were doing paperwork in a coffee shop prior to work.  All four officers were shot to death as they worked on their lap tops.

 Detective Thomas C. Williams


October 31, 1985, Tom Williams, LAPD Detective was shot and killed while off duty.  Williams was picking up his six year old son from school.  He was targeted because he was testifying in a court trial.  Williams was protecting his son from gun fire when he was shot nine times. 


Stacy LImJune 9, 1990, off duty LAPD officer Stacy Lim is driving home when potential car-jackers shot her in the chest with a 357 Magnum handgun.  Lim returned fire and killed her attacker.  Lim barely survived her injuries and is still an LAPD Officer.  I worked with Stacy Lim in Southeast Division. She is one tough lady.


October 9, 1990 Russ Kuster an off duty Hollywood Homicide Detective was at a local restaurant.  A man was creating a disturbance and the owner warned the man that Kuster was a cop.  The man produced a handgun and shot Kuster in the chest.  Kuster returned fire and killed the suspect.  Kuster died from his wounds after solving his own homicide. 


I was once on my way home when I noticed a car behind me.  It seemed to be following me.  After five miles of surface streets it was still behind me.  I drove past my street and thought about driving to the local police station. I had placed my gun between my legs miles ago.  I turned down a side street and the car went on by.  For months after I drove different routes home, I even cleaned the rear view mirror of my truck.


One Hollywood officer was driving away from the police station after work.  Four blocks away, a local gang member stepped into the middle of the street and pointed a handgun at him.  The officer shot at the suspect through his own car windshield.  After that I carried my gun between my legs to and from work.  


I don’t carry my gun everywhere any more but let the bad guys guess when I have it!  I still sit with my back to a wall and watch the front door at restaurants.  I still open doors with my non-gun hand and am constantly looking around for danger.


Am I paranoid or just a product of my environment?  I don’t know but I’m still collecting my pension!!   Hal

By Thonie Hevron

Mysteries to keep you reading through the night.

7 replies on “When Are Cops Really “Off Duty”?”

My father was an Oakland cop. He taught me at a very young age about sitting with your back against the wall and watching the front door. Ask my family; I still do it. I’m not even a cop; I just work in the trade. (I know you know that Thonie; I added that for other folks wandering by.) :>

Hard habits to break but why would you want to? Keeping an eye out for your family’s safety is aGOOD thing!

Thonie Hevron Writing the stories behind the badge Co-chair Redwood Writers 2014 “Pen to Published” Conference Author of INTENT TO HOLD available from Oak Tree Press in 2014 and BY FORCE OR FEAR available on

Thonie’s blog-Just the Facts, Ma’am


Thank you for this blog. My son-in-law deals with these realities every day. My daughter carries the weight of his burden as well, and my twin 4-year old grandsons have learned the importance of saying to their daddy when he leaves for work at night, “Be safe, Daddy.” I see the stress in every muscle, every fiber of his being, even when he’s trying his hardest to “look normal.”

Realities aside, your son-in-law probably carries these burdens willingly. There is much to be said for the “brotherhood” camaraderie of law enforcement. I’m sure he knows the toll the realities take on his loved ones but there is no more noble profession (alongside a fire fighter) than helping those who need it most when they need it most.

I probably should have talked about the stress of a cops job on the family. I know my wife worried every time I went to work or she heard a breaking news story of a cop injuried. Some in my story my wife knew and one she attended the funeral. She now worries because our son has been a cop for over 17 years. It’s just an added toll, but we would never change a minute of being in the finest profession in America. Hal

Welcome to Thonie's world!

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