Tuesday, March 31, 2009

LAFD Rescue 100 Mashed

Some good photos on flickr of the recent intersection crash out in the Valley where RA100 was responding to a call and got T-boned. Doesn't look like there were any serious injuries, but the brand new RA got banged up. My bet is that the alignment will be off forever and it'll pull to the left forevermore.

Capt. Steve Ruda is back...

...as the LAFD's highest ranking mouthpiece. It's a least his second stint as head of the Public Information Unit. I will say nothing more on this topic (for now) other than......."GROAN."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Single Car Rollover...

....has alway sort of amused me. I mean it's not an easy thing to do--especially in a crowded city like L.A.--to just up and flip your car onto its roof. Especially during morning rush hour. But, that's what impeded my way this morning on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood, just north of Robertson Boulevard.

The LASD had eastbound Beverly blocked off and LACoFD Engine 7 and a private ambulance were on the scene. BHPD was there, too, since it's just over the border into WeHo. Other than a little two-door compact up on its roof, didn't see much other action and whatever injuries there were didn't seem too critical.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Winds Calm...

...but it's still a busy Monday night out in Scannerland. The World Baseball Classic is for the second night out at Dodger Stadium and the LAFD is keeping busy with a variety of people who apparently can't attend a baseball game without falling down (spectators, mind you).

Up in FS47's first-in a two-car smash up closed Huntington Drive and required two ALS RA's, Engine 12 and Task Force 47 to clean things up.

Meantime, things are busy down south as Watts units caught a reported smoke that after 10 minutes of investigation turned out to be a mattress fire. While that was going on other units headed down the Fs65's first in to fill the void on a GSW that ended up as a traumatic full arrest.

And it sounds like OCD has a new dispatcher or two on the console as everyone's a bit edgy tonight.

Dear Santa Monica Fire...

...please, kindly, when talking on the radio, just STFU!

For a variety of ridiculous reasons, I found myself wide awake at 0330 hours this morning, and flipped on the scanner, which I hoped would lull me back to sleep. Also, we were in the midst of a gnarly windstorm here in L.A. so I figured things would be hopping with the LAFD (surprisingly, they weren't). But it was almost impossible to find out what was happening with the LAFD, LAPD, BHPD and others because the Santa Monica Fire Department was working a structure fire somewheres on Wilshire Boulevard with ONE ROOM involved that required constant communication on the Tac channel and to OCD on channel 7.

The most egregious offender was the captain on Truck 121 (above) who felt the need to tell. the. BC. every. little. fucking. thing. he. was. doing.


"Truck 121 to Wilshire IC, we've cut another small ventilation hole in the roof, which makes two small holes, plus two skylights and we're using the rotary saw."

"Roger Truck 121."

"Truck 121 to Wilshire IC, we're going to get ready to come down the ladder now since our truck work ventilation appears to be done and there is no more smoke coming from the fire room."

"Roger Truck 121."

"Truck 121 to Wilshire IC, we're getting ready to leave the scene and we just want you to know that we have left two shovels and a salvage cover inside the hallway next to the fire room so once the arson investigators show up, those can be used by whoever is here to do more salvage work and we can either pick them up later or blah, blah, blah, blah....."

"Roger Truck 121."

Wilshire IC himself--Battalion 22--wasn't much better as he constantly badgered OCD with one inane transmission after another. I mean, it's four o'fucking clock in the morning. I felt bad for the poor bastards at OCD who were just trying to get through the last few hours of what had been a really busy shift.

I mean look, I know I'm spoiled because I live in an area where the two biggest fire department's catch working structure fires like flies to honey, but still, last night's little structure fire wasn't the SMFD's first trip to the Show. I realize that working fires can be few and far between in smaller cities like Santa Monica and Culver City and Beverly Hills, etc., but still...I mean the shit coming out of SMFD's radios last night awoke distant memories of my years living in northern New England listening (and observing) as the local vollie departments would catch their one big fire of the year.....painful!

photo: Santa Monica Fire Department

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ugly Weekend...

Luckily, none of this tragedy occurred within C6C's scannerland, but it's been an ugly couple of days in aviation and law enforcement.

Yesterday afternoon up in Oakland, three officers were killed and one gravely wounded in a multi-stage shooting with a parolee who had nothing to lose and didn't want to go back to the pen. Read about it here.

Today was another day for aviation disasters as a Pilatus PC-12 with up to 17 people aboard augured into a cemetery about 500 feet from the runway in Butte, Montana. According to Flightaware.com the single engine turboprop was enroute from Oroville, Calif., to Bozeman, Mont., but the pilot canceled the flight plan and diverted to Butte at the last minute. I have no idea why.

Then, a few hours later, at Tokyo's Narita airport (NRT/RJAA), two American FedEx pilots were killed when they bounced their MD-11 off the runway and then either collapsed the left main landing gear or caught a wingtip on the second bounce. The plane exploded and flipped.

Here in SoCal, we've just been dealing with the after-effects of a rain and windstorm that has sent various PD units scrambling to audible burglar alarms and the LAFD has caught a bunch of structure fires today, as a result.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Odds, Ends

-- Will somebody please tell me why a single LASD motor unit is doing speed enforcement along the Wilshire Corridor in Westwood during the morning rush hour? Anyone? I've seen the green and tan man three times now; usually hiding in the driveway of one of the dozens of residential hi-rises that dot that section of Wilshire. He's smack in the middle of LAPD territory (unless the county has quietly annexed that portion of Wilshire, which they haven't). It's a gnawing mystery.

-- Didn't hear too much St. Paddy's day mayhem on the scanner last night (though my battery died off around 2300 hours). In fact, the only St. Patrick's call in my scannerland that came down was in the always hopping Irish neighborhood of Granada Hills! Apparently, things got a wee bit crowded at O'Grady's (alternative spelling via the Web: "OH Gradys") Lounge on Chatsworth Avenue. An LAFD inspector got the LAPD, Engine 87 (which probably hasn't gone to an OVERCROWD call this side of 1980) and Battalion 15 out of bed to quell the rowdy northwest San Fernando Valley drinkers.

-- Heard a BHPD Lieutenant initiate a traffic stop in his unmarked on Wilshire Boulevard westbound last night right in front of the Los Angeles Country Club. He requested a patrol unit to back him up and 20 minutes later, they had one DUI driver in custody.

NObama ATC

Right about now, give or take a few minutes, Air Force One is touching down at Long Beach/Daugherty Field (KLGB). I would love to listen to the audio ATC of this approach and landing over the Internets on liveatc.net but, alas, the KLGB feed has been taken down. It was up yesterday.

Likely not a coincidence.

Facebook and Surreality

In my "real" life I'm on Facebook. In my C6C life, I am not. It's unlikely the two shall ever meet.

But yesterday, I witnessed one of the stranger online phenomena I've seen in some time. Among my nearly 400 "friends" are a bunch of people I used to work with in my past life in EMS. First thing in the morning, I noticed a curious status message from one of the more prolific users within my group of Facebook friends. It was fairly vague, but mentioned "drama" at his current workplace and thanked everyone for their support.

I thought no more of this until a few hours later when I noticed this story online and being blasted around TV and radio. Now, I really have nothing to say at all about any of the information in the story, or anything about how I know this guy, etc. etc. In the news business, they call it a "No comment."

What I will say is that the subject of the story kept updating his Facebook page throughout the day and reacted--via Facebook--to specific paragraphs in the story and what was being said about him in the media. This struck me as a particularly bad idea. His page remained open to the public--seemingly no privacy settings were activated--and while he recorded a generic "no comment" outgoing voicemail on his phones (good idea), he seemed to have a bit of a disconnect about how his actions via Facebook could (and will) be perceived.

If you're facing a possible court-martial with three charges of murder tacked on, social networking might not be the best priority. On the other hand, it's proving to be a great way to rally support.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Trauma Code

It's been awhile since I heard a good multi-shooting go down, but Watts served up a doozy last night that required the resources of all of LAFD's FS65 down there on San Pedro Street. Two victims, one pretty much DRT (dead right there) with agonal breathing and all the associated drama that comes with dying from a gunshot wound. Engine 65 requested an additional ALS unit for a second victim who had been shot in both upper legs and at least one arm.

Everybody got transported Code 3 to Harbor General and maybe St. Francis? Anyway, the LA Times much-ballyhooed LA NOW blog has nary a whisper about the shooting this morning. Must not have been able to afford a cops reporter for the Friday night shift.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sometimes You See Em'...

...today you don't. It always amazes me when I spend the better part of the day driving around greater L.A. and don't see a single cop in all of my travels. During the day I drove from mid-Wilshire to Culver City back to mid-Wilshire to Burbank back to mid-Wilshire back to Culver City and finally, back to mid-Wilshire over a period of about 6 hours and didn't see one cop. Not one LAPD, Culver City PD, Burbank PD or even CHP (for the brief stretch on the 101 and 134 freeways) unit the entire time.

I know they're out there somewhere; just not today.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Dodge Invasion

When it gets down to the nitty-gritty on things involving hardware (vehicles, radios, lightbars), I'm a little slower on the uptake than I am with software (tactics, planning, resources usage) changes.

To wit: I noticed the first marked LAPD Dodge Charger out on the road last night. Driving home from Hollywood and I saw three LAPD units at a minor TC at a strip mall at the intersection of Highland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. One of the three was a brand-new Charger assigned to West Traffic division, complete with the LED lightbar package.

Apparently, this development has been well documented and the CHP also took delivery of 88 Dodge Chargers early last year for use as unmarked vehicles.

Here's my take: I'm a Ford Crown Victoria kind of guy for LE vehicles. I used to like the Old Chevy Caprice's of the 1980s and 1990s, but have been partial to the Crown Vics for many years now. I liked Fords (ambulances, in my case) when I was on the EMS beat, they never did me wrong. In my youth, I was the proud operator of a number of Dodge Caravan mini-vans and I can say they were a model of the American auto industry's "planned-obsolescence" strategy, and in general, were total piece-of-shit automobiles. In fairness, however, I also remember a particularly lemon-y Ford Escort from the mid 1980s, as well.

As for the Charger, I just think it's too big, boxy and robo-cop for the LAPD. I think they work well for certain highway patrols and "statie" depts. (see here and here), but as the day-to-day workhorse, I'm not a fan.

For that matter, however, I'm not a fan of the LAPD's "new" Harley Davidson motor-units. They look like heavy beasts that the guys would rather be riding up to Sturgis than patrolling the streets of L.A. In fact, I'm partial to bikes like the Yamaha trailing the LAPD unit in the linked pic, or BMW's used by Beverly Hills PD and others.

Anyway, I know these posts wade into the passions of car and cycle fans, but I like what I like.

photo: from flickr, apologies for the cropping distortion.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sunday Call O' the Day

A bit late on posting this one but it's solid:

So I'm listening to the patter on a lazy Sunday afternoon, when the LAPD upgrades a "415 man" call to a "narcotics activity" in West LA division. Some dude at the Century Plaza Hotel (a pretty upscale joint) in Century City was hanging out in the lobby apparently annoying customers.

He was described as a "male black, 30s, wearing a tan shirt and tan pants." He allegedly progressed from his "415 behavior" to the more specific activity of "freebasing drugs in the lobby"!!! Good times.

I didn't bother to switch over to the West LA frequency to listen to the outcome--and since it was only upgraded to Code 2, I imagine it took a patrol unit plenty of sweet, sweet time to make it over there.

But I say, if a man can't enjoy a little heated crack cocaine in the lobby of a luxury hotel, then yes, this country really is going to hell.

California Roll

The other morning I decided to take a little stroll at the park a few blocks from my home. The northern boundary of this particular park is a busy two-way street that motorists enjoy using as a short-cut to avoid Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, from the eastern border of the city to as far west as Robertson Boulevard.

As I was strolling down the sidewalk heading back to my house, I noticed the line of cars at a particular intersection basically blowing through the three way stop sign (it's a T-intersection that dead-ends at the park). Because I was in no particular hurry to get to work that day, I stopped and leaned up against a light pole to watch how many cars actually came to a complete stop at the limit line before proceeding through the intersection.

So, if the BHPD is looking to fill its coffers with moving violation revenues, I strongly encourage them to hang out at this particular intersection; in the span of about 15 minutes my unofficial count was approximately 75 cars or so...and maybe five (maybe!) actually came to a complete stop. At least five rolled right through without hitting the brakes for even a second, while most everyone else pulled the typical "California Roll." Only about 10 folks were on their cellphones, which is far less than I would have suspected.

Clearly I need more to do in the mornings.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

"OCD Clear"

I've been listening to scanners in LA for going on 20 years or so and there are a few catchphrases that are so rare that when I hear them broadcast it's like getting a little gift from the scanner gods.

LAFD's dispatchers have a few little gems that I always love catching in the clear. It's akin to finding secret levels or hidden "easter eggs" in video games. In the past few years, the soothing automated female dispatch voice and the gentle chimes have replaced the live human dispatching calls over station speakers. But when OCD used to do the honors, they always ended the dispatch by saying "OCD Clear." When they dispatch over the radio, 99% of the time, you'll never hear the "OCD Clear" sign-off, for reasons I don't fully understand.

But tonight I got a full dose of OCD in its glory. A Reported Smoke (RS) went down in FS61's first-in and the dispatch went over the scanner just like you'd hear it back in the day at the station. The dispatcher hit the long rings and then came on the air with a clipped, "Structure": a heads-up to the station that a structure fire dispatch was coming down the pike (and causing every guy in the station to start scrambling to the app bay). Then he dispatched the units and, the address, incident time, number and Tac channel and he ended the whole thing with a good, old-fashioned "OCD clear."


p.s. the fire was a bullshit curtains over space heater caper that was easily handled by the first alarm assignment.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Short Pursuit

An LAPD Southeast division patrol car caught a Code 37 Pontiac down at Imperial Highway and the 105 Freeway around 2200 hours tonight. Quickly got three additional units and Air 18 overhead and the pursuit was on. t

The vehicle quickly exited the 710 freeway and began doing the high-speed 90 degree shuffle. But before he could spend hours circling the same blocks in the same neighborhood, the Pontiac clipped a vehicle at a tri-light and then spun out. All three suspects foot-bailed and Air 18 expertly maneuvered the random black & whites into position, whereupon all three suspects were taken into custody without the burdensome effort of a big perimeter needed.

It happened so fast, none of the news choppers were able to get on station. Just a nice quick burst of fun on a Monday night.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Seal Down

An actual seal. LAFD's Battalion 6 units have been getting hit with a seemingly higher number of cliff rescues down there near San Pedro in the past few weeks. A number of hoist ops and land rescues as a result of people, falling, jumping and otherwise ending up at the bottom of those nasty cliffs down there in Peeedro.

So tonight, around 2200 hours, old Engine and Rescue 101 (probably settling in for a typical night of restful retirement house sleep) got sent on a person down at the base of the cliffs on Paseo del Mar. I'm sure visions of a long, complicated technical rescue were dancing in their heads as they pulled out of the station. But after a few minutes on scene they determined the patient was a long-deceased seal carcass and that was that.

photo: Paul Chinn/AP (this is an elephant seal, probably not the same species that Engine 101 found, but they didn't relay the type of seal to OCD!)

End of Watch: Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner

The LAPD's second-highest ranking black sworn officer died Sunday morning at his home of apparent heart failure/MI. The chief was 53-years-old and made the rounds throughout the Department in his 32 years on the job. According to a Daily Breeze story, Chief Garner called in sick three days before he died.

At the time of his death Garner commanded the LAPD's South Bureau.

RIP Deputy Chief Garner.


For the second year in a row, my day job took me to the Academy Awards telecast last Sunday. For most people, the thrill is what goes on along the vast red carpet and then inside the Kodak Theater. For me, unsurprisingly, the thrill is everything going on OUTSIDE the theater and the glitz-zone.

In terms of security, short of a presidential visit, the Oscars are in a class by themselves. I can think of few other annual events that require a 10 block-plus security cordon, vehicle bomb detection and a serpentine driving course consisting of blast protection barriers....all BEFORE you drop your car off for mandatory valet parking!

Prior to entering the first layer of security at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Wilcox Avenue, I cruised past FS 27 and noticed Light Force 15 (USC's finest) parked in the driveway and two big LAPD Command vehicles. Once past the uniformed officer at Sunset X Wilcox, we encountered uniformed LAPD and LADOT officers at every intersection until turning westbound onto Hollywood Boulevard. At that point, the street was closed in both directions, save for traffic headed to the actual awards show. We pulled up about four blocks short, where an LAPD sergeant said our vehicle would be inspected visually before we were allowed to proceed.

The bomb inspection was quick and painless--especially because I had no bomb--and then we followed the line of cars in the serpentine course (think TSA security line with metal barriers in place of the elastic rope lines) and up and over a retractable stop plate until we pulled up at the valet line at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. There, hundreds of fans crowded the barricades on the east side of the intersection as the west side was the designated limo drop-off point and the beginning of the red carpet hoopla. At least two dozen officers were milling around the intersection with two or three K-9 units wandering the scene and about a dozen motor officers doing pedestrian control.

Once we crossed the street and entered the "civilian" side of the red-carpet we went through the standard metal detector shenanigans (though allowed to bring in cell phones and other PDA devices) and started the slow shuffle down the red carpet. Overhead, half a dozen news choppers circled, the occasional Cessna flew by and the LAPD had two birds on station the entire time--one doing a low orbit, the second up a bit higher.

Six hours later, as I drove out of the theater complex and made the forced left onto Highland, most of the hardcore security had departed. I did notice, however, LAFD's sick Command 3 truck heading back downtown being trailed by RA4. Anyway, thankfully, none of that hardware was needed for anything real this year and the taxpayers will get their bills in the mail.

photo: David Strick, from an Oscars back in the day when they were held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion downtown.