By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
This is really part two of last Sunday’s “Errol Flynn Estates” but I thought the re-name was appropriate.
In my last Ramblings, I described the history and problems we encountered at night in the Errol Flynn Estates, later called Runyon Canyon Park. The problem escalated as the warm summer nights brought more rowdy kids. Some nights I estimated we were out-numbered 3 to 1.
I hoped they would run out of rocks and bottles.
It was a game of hide and seek in the beginning but later turned into a game of adult tag. Some nights, we mustered enough officers to send the kids running through the brush covered hills. If it was a moonless night you could hear them falling and swearing.
If you’re going to run blind through the brush you might bring some sort of lighting apparatus, other than your bright mind. Our sympathies were with the chaparral.
As with any “us versus them” encounters, we learned to use new strategies. Our tactics
usually depended on the supervisor in charge. Poor leaders would line us up in squad formation and make us an easier target to hit. That was while the supervisor tried to make a decision. Good leaders would let us charge and we’d scatter the misguided youths. That was the hide and seek part!
We had the advantage as we were armed with flashlights and were paid by the hour!
If you caught someone and issued a citation, the City Attorney usually dismissed any charges if you couldn’t articulate what they did. It was sometimes difficult to see who threw the rock when you’re watching the rock headed for your head!
Another problem with arresting the jerk was that you could expect to spend a few hours at the emergency room, having their cuts and abrasions treated. A real treat was if they ran through the poison oak. There might also be some resisting arrest injuries that needed attention.
That was the adult tag part!
The new tactic was chase them a little and when they scattered through the brush, retreat and go have coffee. No reports, no personnel complaints, no long waits at the emergency room. The down side was you might get a clean uniform dirty, especially irritating if it was on the first day you wore it. If you got a little too eager you might rip a hole in a $80 pair of uniform pants.
We paid for our uniforms and cleaning in those days.
The neighbors were happy but they sometimes called to tell us that after we left, some of the kids were lost in the brush and couldn’t find their way out of the Errol Flynn Estates!
Brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?
To the best of my knowledge Runyon Canyon is now only a popular day time hiking trail and dog park with lots of room for dogs to roam through the brush–maybe discovering a lost teenager from decades ago.