Ramblings: Have You Ever Been Lost?

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

Have you ever been lost? Maybe you were in a strange town or even country; you refused to ask for directions regardless of how many times your spouse begged you. This Ramblings is not about that. This is about a call for police service and the cops can’t find the location. You might have a Hollywood Division street guide but it’s only good for Hollywood. The Thomas Guide they gave you in the academy has mold from being in the bottom of your equipment bag in the trunk of your police car. It might even have some Pinks chili on it.


2017-03-04-2As you probably know I spent thirty-three years working Hollywood Division and I hardly ever got lost. Well, only a couple of times but I had an excuse. I had a rule, “don’t go south of Beverly Boulevard,” Hollywood’s southern boundary. One time I was assigned a radio call of a “screaming woman” in Southwest Division. The call was at 52nd and Crenshaw, Southwest Division was two divisions away and wasn’t even in my Bureau. I had a vague idea of where 52nd & Crenshaw was—about sixty blocks south of my present location.



Randy’s Donuts, 805 West Manchester, Inglewood, Ca.

No problem. I know a short cut. I’ll take La Brea south past the area known as the “Jungle” (known for anti-police residents) over Baldwin Hills and turn east before I hit Inglewood. I missed the left at Slauson Avenue and soon found myself in Inglewood. I was only a short distance from Randy’s Donuts, but I have an emergency call first. I back-tracked and eventually got to the call. Of course, the call was at least forty-five minutes old and I couldn’t find the screaming woman. I took the long way back to Hollywood and got a cup of coffee, no donuts. Good thing I filled the gas tank at start of watch. Every once in a while, you would get a call in a different bureau but that just means no cops were available in the adjoining four divisions. Scary, huh?



Loans: Every division has Christmas parties, summer picnics and divisional inspections. On a sad note, if an officer dies in the line of duty the entire division attends the funeral. These events all required loans from other divisions to handle patrol duties during the incident. I was often loaned to outside divisions, both as a cop and as a sergeant. I hated it. I was in a strange environment and out of my comfort zone. I didn’t know what alleys were safe to pee in or where to eat that the help won’t spit on your food. The fact of the matter was, you were going to get assigned to a division you were unfamiliar with.


Webster defines lost as: being in an unknown location. I always knew where I was, I just didn’t know where I was going!


6 thoughts on “Ramblings: Have You Ever Been Lost?

  1. When started as a rookie, in Petaluma we had no Police Academy, & no training officers. The first week I rode with another officer, then was sent out on my own, assigned to the beat farthest from the police station. It took me several shifts to learn how to get back to the station usually getting in late, because I had been driving around looking for the Catholic Church Belfry which was 1/2 block from station. I also walked a beat several times a week, & dispatched often when we were between the regular dispatchers. I went to work at Midnight walking a beat until 400AM then either got a unit or dispatched if the on duty Sgt. didn’t want dispatch. If I dispatched l was supposed get off at 8AM, my gear was still in my unit & COP Noonie DelMaestro would invaribly take the unit to go for coffee & I would have to wait around station until he came back. I had been on my own for 18 months before I went to police academy at SRJC.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Warde that’s scares me to death, but I understand a lot of smaller departments do that. Give you a week or two to learn the ropes from a senior officer, then sink or swim. Finding your way around can be a problem unless you grew up in the area. I don’t know how you did that. Hal

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It shows how far training has come in our lifetimes. In San Rafael in the early 70’s things were the same. A patrolman was on the street for months sometimes before he (never a “she”) went to the local junior college academy. Of course, larger agencies like LAPD and CHP had their own academies dedicated to their patrol officers. For some very good reasons, these agencies trained their people before they hit the street. Even today, in junior college academies, “unaffiliated” classmates can go through schooling at their own expense and never be hired. Interesting how each agency’s training varies from the next.


    1. Thonie My son applied for LAPD when he turned 21, He took all the tests but at the time they didn’t hire any white males until they were older. Affrimative Action was in full swing at the time. He paid and attended Rio Hondo police academy. After graduation he applied to numerous police agencies and was in the final selection process when LAPD called him back. That’s the way is was in the 90’s.

      Liked by 1 person

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