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Another altogether different 'Day of Infamy'


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  • Another altogether different 'Day of Infamy'

    December 7th 1981
    By Kieth Moreland

    This particular “Day of Infamy” was nothing compared to Pearl Harbor, but it did send some shockwaves around the world.

    It was after midnight, my partner Keith Haiser and I were cruising around when we heard 6Z5 request a back-up on an open door at the scene of a burglar alarm call, located at 7710 Melrose Avenue, Jet (?) Video.

    I don’t recall the order in which we arrived at the scene, but there were eventually about 8-10 cops and sergeants at the scene. The back door was wide open, with a screwdriver stuck in the key slot of the doorknob.

    We entered and cleared the location. No bad guys were inside. I found a light switch and turned it on. On the floor were crisp, almost brand new $100 bills strewn about. I found a phone and called our communications liaison officer, and asked him to call the alarm company. The officer said he would do so, but said that according to the ticket (a 7-1/2” X 3-1/4” hand-written white card used by Communications Division) the call had not come in, via the usual way. It had been hand-written and unstamped by the Communications Watch Commander. We both though it odd, but didn’t dwell too long on it. We forgot the issue altogether after we learned the store’s owner was en route to secure the scene.

    6Z5 was the Hollywood Alarm Car. Two officers, often in jump suits, whose primary duty was to respond to just alarm calls at homes and businesses. Burglar alarms were a constant call, during the late 1970’s. The then “state of the art” had them going off often due to damp weather, or high winds. Jack and Ron were working the car that night, as they had been for the better part of a year or more. They were friends and co-workers off-duty. They were heavily involved in providing motorcycle officer duties for Hollywood TV & film productions. Their off-duty work paid more than their on-duty work, and took a toll of their personal lives. When it was pointed out that Jack, who wore P-3 (corporal) stripes was a training officer and should be training probationers, not working the Z-car, Jack took a downgrade to P-2 (a 5% pay cut) so as not to lose his spot on 6Z5 with Ron.

    Back to the store…Keith and I prepared to leave and I asked Ron and Jack if they wanted anything. They asked for coffee and donuts. We drove to the Winchell’s Donut House at Melrose and Detroit, obtained the desired goods and returned them as our partners sat in the store awaiting the owner.

    Keith and I left, driving west on Melrose and eventually took La Cienega Blvd north to Sunset Blvd where we saw a car weaving in the roadway. We stopped and determined it was a DUI driver. We took to the driver, downtown, to Jail Division where we booked him and completed paperwork.

    Upon completion of our arrest we got in our car. Communications immediately directed us to go to Hollywood Station, with no delay. Oblivious, we did as we were told. As we entered the station, we were escorted by a plain/soft clothes Internal Affairs sergeant to the captain’s office.

    Another soft clothed man entered the room, introducing himself as, Don Vincent, the commanding officer of Internal Affairs. There were now six of us in the room. He addressed us as follows:
    “Gentlemen, you’re here because you were all at the scene of an open door at an alarm call. Something was taken from that store and some of your co-workers are not here with you, because they took the items. You will be interviewed, but we can’t have you talking to anyone about the case until we’re done with your interview.”

    The six of us looked at each other dumbfounded. Then, we realized who was missing. Jack and Ron. We seemed to alternate between disgust, disbelief, and bewilderment. Eventually, all six of us were taken to a side room where we were told to place our hands under a black light. The plain clothes IA guy said, “You’re not glowing in the dark, and that’s a good thing!” Being young and stupid, I still had no idea what was really going on.

    Now, IA sergeants in suits and ties, clearly shaking off the effects of getting out of bed in the middle of the night started showing up. Our interviews started. I was the last to be interviewed. I knew nothing about thefts, period. I did not volunteer any more information.

    I drove home and turned on the radio news. News every hour on the hour and half-hour was spreading the word, “LAPD Officers arrested for committing on-duty burglaries!” Although no one was being named yet, I knew it was Jack and Ron. I arrived home where I told my fiancé the story, as I knew it. I was nervous and excited. More likely I was scared. Later when the TV news started (I remember Jerry Dunphy on KABC7, Eyewitnesses News, the most), I was locked in trying to make sense of what was being reported.

    That evening I drank a six-pack of beer. I grilled and ate a steak. My fiancé and I engaged in activities young people in love often do. I thought of Jack and Ron sharing a jail cell, and wondered what they were thinking.

    The problem is, this was just the start.

    Jack and Ron were caught red handed. I later learned that they not only glowed in the dark, but the chemically treated hundred dollar bills were found in their possession. They were facing prison and did what any crook does. They asked to make deals. They began to roll over on people they didn’t like, for wrongdoing…any wrongdoing at all. They would eventually include people they did like, because the stories didn’t match up, otherwise.

    We had been a tight group, at one time. It was as if most all of us partied, together, after work. We would get off at 7:30 am and make two stops. First the 7-11 at Yucca and Cahuenga for beer. Then the parking lot of the John Anson Ford Theater, on Cahuenga overlooking the 101 Freeway. There was a small island in the lot, near the theater. It had three trees growing on it. Due to the fact there was one large one, the place became known as, “The Tree”. We were not alone. Other watches and teams drank there.

    I was two years into this pattern of behavior when I noticed something was up. Ron and his other close buddy, James, were now including their off-duty partying, drinking and sexual escapades into their work hours. Calls went unacknowledged and unanswered. We’d pick up the slack. One night communications was frantic to find them. On a hunch we cruised up to a house on Oceanus Drive. The house belonged to a stuntman. We’d partied, after work, there before. There was a police car parked out front. I knocked at the door. James came to the door and only stuck his head out. I told them they were being looked for. He thanked me and sent me on my way.

    Sometime later, I was approached by Ron, who told me, “Two girls are going to put on a show for us, up at the Oceanus House, be there at 2:00 am.” My partner Tom and I were handling calls and having contact with other units during the few couple hours. We said nothing about the 2 am plans, as we thought we were going to be in a small audience. Imagine our surprise when we arrived on Oceanus and saw we were the fifth police car to park there.

    We walked in the back gate and were immediately greeted by the sight of my favorite sergeant in the whole world, the guy I wanted to emulate, walking buck naked out the back door of the house with a fat girl wrapped in a towel and stepping into the hot tub. “Hi guys!” he said and went on to get wet.

    Tom and I stepped inside. Cops were in various stages of undress, holding glasses of wine or bottles and cans of beer. It was as though Ron was the freaking party host. The stuntman owner greeted me. Tom and I looked at each other and it was like lines Morse code shot between our eyes. We have GOT to get out of here. And we did. We drove down from Mount Olympus asking each other, “What do we do?” “Who do we tell?”

    Suddenly, as we sat at the red light southbound at the intersection of Gower and Hollywood, a radio broadcast advised there was a kidnap robbery vehicle, a blue ‘72 Mustang with a hostage in the back seat to be on the lookout for. They gave a plate. As the broadcast finished, guess who drove eastbound, right in front of us. The dignity of choice in, and perhaps the necessity of, having to tell anyone about the party had been lifted for a time.

    We fell in behind the Mustang. The pursuit began and went on to the 101 Freeway. They stacked it up at the 101/Vermont off ramp. Hostage saved, two bad guys in custody, one with a broken back. As we completed paperwork at Hollywood, my “hero” sergeant came into the report room. Other officers were present when he said out loud to Tom and I, “Good job, guys, I was on my way to back you on the call, but my car died. It took ten minutes to finally start back up and I eased her down the hill.” I lost all respect for him at that moment. I never viewed him the same way again. I’d rather he’d said nothing at all to us. (NOTE: months later I saw some of the evidence in the case against him. I saw the same lie repeated in print on his daily log)

    In the aftermath of that party incident, I managed to get myself elected the spokesman for the other half of the watch who wasn’t partying. I was expected to approach and inform a supervisor of just how bad it was. I did. Before I could even finish, the sergeant (not my previous hero, but a good guy just the same) said, “We’re already aware of what’s going on and they (Ron and James) are being broken up.

    A couple of days later, James confronted me in the locker room, “You little bitch! You snitch. You whiney little (effing) baby! You think you’re the spokesman for the so-called working cops? You all are nothing but babies. (Eff) you and all the rest. We were the only truly working cops out here!” I was kicked out of the group. I no longer drank with them. Best thing that ever happened to me, in the long run.

    It was about a year later when Jack and Ron were caught. As I said, Jack and Ron were facing prison. They went on the tell Internal Affairs EVERYTHING about the on duty parties, the sex with prostitutes (I, too, almost got involved – Ron set it up, it appears to trap me into complicity or silence), another good decision on my part, although I wanted to be with that girl, so bad. Every bad thing Ron and Jack could think up was investigated.

    In the end, some 12-14 LAPD cops and sergeants were fired, or resigned. Crimes from burglary, to theft, to receiving stolen property, to insurance fraud to lying on department forms were investigated. Jack and Ron admitted to some 200 acts of theft and burglary. In one incident, they’d stolen $5000 cash from Roman’s Liquor on La Brea at Sunset. Roman’s NEVER charged us for sodas, candy bars, or cigarettes. VCRs and movies seemed to be their favorite target, though. Please keep in mind that in 1981, a VCR would run you $1000. Top quality movies ran $79 (I just found a website which adjusts 1980 dollars to todays money: That $1000 VCR would be $2933, today. A movie at $79 would be $231.75). So to tell another cop, or just a neighbor, you had one available for a bargain price, say $400-500 for a VCR and $25 for a movie, you could move it very quickly. They took the money and partied it up with trips to Las Vegas, etc.

    Shockwaves around the world? Yes. The arrest of on-duty LAPD cops was front page news in Tokyo, Japan.

    Let me be clear that I was not innocent of misconduct, nothing felonious to be sure, but most of my acts were well out of the Department’s statute of limitations on penalties for misconduct. I got about five paper penalties and deserved every one.

    LAPD generally, and Hollywood specifically, suffered a huge wound which took years to heal. The scab would get torn off and bleed every so often. In time, other bad things happened elsewhere in the city to make people forget about us.

    About three years later, I got into recovery for my alcoholism and saw, with every sober day, just how insane and unmanageable my previous drinking life had been.

    Jack, six months after his arrest, rolled his 4X4 on the freeway in a solo accident and died. He was addicted to pain killers. Of course, conspiracy theorists were convinced he’d been murdered, to keep him from testifying against other cops. Later, the prostitute girlfriend of Ron’s was found with her throat slit and multiple stab wounds. Conspiracy theorists went into overtime on that one. A civilian was arrested, but walked. No evidence to tie him to the actual crime, then. He had a rep for roughing up the working girls he'd hired.

    Sometime in the early 2000’s I was a sergeant working Rampart patrol. I drove by a filming location and saw Ron working a movie location with one of the production support vehicles. I stopped and met up with him. We discussed our mutual sobriety. Ron said he’d almost forgotten what had happened to him until, one day, when he’d gone to a sporting goods store to pick up a shotgun he’d purchased, for his son, as a gift. He’d waited the ten days. The clerk said, “I’m sorry, Mr. _______, I can’t sell you the gun. You’re a convicted felon.” Ron hung his head and said, “You’re right, I am. I forgot.” Another down moment was when his son was in a college class, discussing ethics. An article about the Hollywood Burglars was introduced. Another student joked with his son, saying, “Hey, this guy has your last name! Any relation?” He felt bad for his son, again, as his son had to answer, “Yeah, that’s my dad.” He always regretted the damage done to his parents and children, because of his actions.

    Last I heard Ron tested dirty for drugs. He could no longer drive a studio truck.

    I would love to tell you that, back then, had I been a witness to an act of theft or burglary committed by a fellow cop, I would have done the right thing. Alas, I cannot. Just as with the party, I would likely have stumbled. I was a drunk who relied on others to give me approval for my actions and behavior. Sober, today, the choice may be clear but there is damage done.

    I rarely get close to other cops and have not since the aftermath of the scandal. My trust meter is very low…not just at work, but now everywhere. I know I am flawed, in that regard, but have little or no desire to fix it.
    Last edited by Kieth M.; 12-09-2016, 11:04 AM.
    "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

    Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

    Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.

  • #2
    That was a great read.

    “This life’s hard, but it’s harder if you’re stupid.”

    George V. Higgins--The Friends of Eddie Coyle


    • #3
      Nice article Kieth, if you were to empty your mailbox I would like to inquire about your last name.


      • #4
        Well, in comparison, now most of my LE stories all suck.
        ...except the "Lesbians, the turkey baster, and the Dixie Cup" story.

        In 2017, the sales of my LEO related decals allowed me to donate over $350. to LE/ Military related charities... THANK YOU!!! Check them out HERE...


        • #5
          Originally posted by Rettroop View Post
          Nice article Kieth, if you were to empty your mailbox I would like to inquire about your last name.
          My mailboxes show empty.

          Ever since the (so-called) upgrade to Officer-dot-com, I can't easily use this thing any longer. You can email me at
          Last edited by Kieth M.; 12-08-2016, 11:31 AM.
          "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

          Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

          Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.


          • #6
            I always knew something was missing from my FTO days :-/


            • #7
              Great story Keith. There's some great lessons in there for all of us. Thanks for sharing.
              Originally posted by kontemplerande
              Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.


              • #8
                I remember that incident being covered in my Basic ethics class at ALETA, back in '85. Nice to hear the "rest of the story" from someone who lived it and ya it's easy to fall into that trap.
                Train for tomorrow, for you never know what it will bring to the fight.
                In the school of Policing, there is no graduation day.

                Arguing on the internet, is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while you realize that while you are getting dirty, the pig is actually enjoying it.
                Do Not Disturb sign should read, Already Disturbed Proceed With Caution.
                Even if the voices aren't real, They have some really good ideas.


                • #9
                  I just saw this morning that today is also the 35th anniversary of the murder of Ofcr. Daniel Faulkner by Wesley Cook (so-called Mumia Abu Jamal). Guilt is kind of creeping up on me. Did that POS Cook have hate in his heart, more than his usual dose perhaps, due to the arrest of crooked cops in L.A? As I said, this was news all over the world.
                  "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

                  Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

                  Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.


                  • #10
                    Excellent story. Aah the choir practice days.......... Crazy times.


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