By Mikey, Retired LAPD
March 25, 2018
In the summer of 1973, as a rookie copper in Rampart Division, I was learning the ways of the LAPD. Every day was exciting for me. I was assigned morning watch, so I got to work at 2230 for a 2400 roll call.
One night, I was in the locker room talking with another copper when four sergeants swarmed into the room and began taking names and serial numbers. One of the senior officers asked what the deal was, and he was told that he would find out later. At the conclusion of roll call our lieutenant told those of us who had had their names and serial numbers documented to report to the Area Commanding Officer’s (CO) office.
In the hallway were five officers standing outside of the CO’s office. Just as I got in line, an officer exited the office, looked at us and said, “that was B**l S**t!” and stomped off. All the guys before me said pretty much the same as they exited.
Then it was my turn. A sergeant and lieutenant (LT) were in the room. The sergeant stood by the light switch and the LT was behind a desk. On the desk was a lunch box, the kind that is rectangle at the bottom and half oval on the top.
The LT instructed me to approach the desk and put my hands out in front of me. He then told the sergeant to turn out the room lights. I heard the lunch box lid open and suddenly an ultraviolet light came up, illuminating my hands. Barely visible were some very little shiny “flakes.” The LT called the sergeant over to the desk and told him to look at my hands.
“What is that?” the L.T. asked.
My response, “I don’t know, sir.”
“Well, it’s on your hands!”
The sergeant turned the lights back on and I found them both eyeing me suspiciously.
“What’s up” I asked.
Silence. Then, “you can go. What car are you working?”
I replied, “2 Adam 3.”
Something told me I’d be talking to the LT again, very soon. My training officer asked me why I had been in the CO’s office, but I did not have an answer for him.
Sure enough, 15 minutes later, “2 Adam 3, see the watch commander.”
Back at the station, I reported to the watch commander and he told me to go back to the CO’s office and report to the LT. In the LT’s office, I was again asked me again what the flakes on my hands were. This time I had an answer for him.
In a somewhat weak voice I said. “Baby powder, sir.”
I told him that in the summer I used it because I sweat quite a bit.
The LT looked at the sergeant with that “ah, ha” look and said to me, “well then, it should be all over your person.” With that he told me to take off my uniform shirt. So, I removed my Sam Brown put it on the desk, pulled my shirt out and unbuttoned it. The LT told me to pull my T-shirt up and he instructed the sergeant to kill the lights. The UV light came back on and wouldn’t you know it, there were flakes all over the place.
Not satisfied with that, the LT had me take my belt off, and pull my pants down. Oh yeah; this is 1973 LAPD, no union rep, nothing. Just as he is working his way down to my knees, the door came open, I heard a hand being slapped and the light came on. From where my watch commander was standing behind me, how do you think it looked? The LT was practically kneeling down in front of me and my pants down to my knees?
“Young lieutenant, that’s disgusting!” My watch commander shouted. Then to me, “Diaz, get yourself put back together and get out on patrol!” God, I felt so, I don’t know, used?
So, here is why this happened. There had been locker break-ins, so the CO’s adjutant had powdered several lockers with the secret stuff and had a couple of the lockers bugged to set off an alarm if they were disturbed. The night I was there, the alarm tripped, the sergeants arrived, and the baby powder made the LT “hot” and all for nothing.
The next night, my training officer brought in a super sized container of baby powder. All the guys powdered up their hands, banged on every locker, went to roll call to await the dreaded “swarm” of sergeants, but nothing happened.
I stopped using baby powder. Just saying.