The Call Box: Improbable Journey, part 3

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

lapd callboxWe learned of the law and evidence, physical training—and we ran. We learned traffic codes, penal codes and more codes—and we ran. We learned how to arrest, when to arrest and who to arrest and we ran some more. We learned how to shoot; when to shoot and who to shoot and we still kept running. We fired tear gas and as it drifted into the heavy brush, we watched as illicit “lovers” ran away crying and still we ran. 

 

Thirteen weeks later, on May 4, against all odds, all 34 of us graduated and were turned loose upon the criminal element of Los Angeles. The LA of 1956 was a world apart from 2016.

 

lapd-mc-cop-1956
John McAllister, shown here as a motor officer for the LAPD in the early 1950s. Photo courtesy of Baas family

There were few freeways. The Harbor Freeway had only made it to Adams southbound. The Valley had one division; Van Nuys ran out of City Hall. There were no seat belts in the cars, air support, K-9’s, mounted unit, or SWAT. Motor officers wore soft hats while we wore shoulder straps and carried .38 revolvers. There were no computers, portable radios or DNA. The wages were meager, but who cared? We were the best of the best—we were Los Angeles police officers. Bill Parker was chief; we were young and invincible. 

 

In March of this year, 8 of the 11 survivors gathered to celebrate 60. Conversations were subdued as though we marveled at where we had been, what we had done, and who we had become. We raised a glass as I read the names of those gone before and toasted those present.

 

The feeling of camaraderie and sense of nostalgia was almost palpable as though we were surprised to be there.

 

 

ted-cooke-retired-culver-city-police-chief
Culver City Police Chief Ted Cooke, longest serving police chief retired at age 71

 

So who were we and what had we done and become? We produced captains and lieutenants. One chief of police, (Culver City)] who became the longest serving chief in California. One of us became “Mr. Robbery” with over 50 years on the job, most of it as a robbery detective. We served in all capacities—some became famous, but most unsung.

 

 

Three of us got shot, one twice—what are the odds? We produced heroes and nobodies. We laughed and cried at our victories and defeats. We mourned fallen comrades and celebrated togetherness. 

 

We were gray warriors living on memories of deeds past. We were the 8 percent. Did we really make a difference? I like to think so.

 

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