The negative energy throughout the city was so thick you could cut it with a knife. People were on edge waiting for the verdict of four white Los Angeles Police Officers for the beating of black motorist, Rodney King. The media showed the videotape of the beating every tem minutes for weeks, which enraged everyone to no end. The verdict found all four Officers ‘not guilty’ and afterwards, the City went nuts… and so started the 1992 LA riots.
I had just arrived home after working long hours on day watch and sat down to eat and watch the news. When I turned on the television, I could not believe my eyes as I watched live footage of a white truck driver named Reginald Denny get dragged from his truck at Florence and Normandie and beat almost to death by an angry mob of black people. “This is &%$#@%$#@ insane,” I yelled out in anger, “Why isn’t someone doing something about this… where are the Cops?” I was furious and felt helpless as I watched the city start to go up in flames and angry people everywhere start to loot, burn stores and riot. “What can I do?” I thought to myself. The phone rang and I answered it, “This is Scott.” The voice on the other end said, “Officer Hallock, the City is on an Emergency Unusual Occurrence Tactical Alert, and the Captain is ordering all Officers on ‘B Watch’ to report to work… all days off are canceled.” I hung up the phone and ran out my front door.
I jumped in my car and raced back to work. When the city goes to this kind of Unusual Occurrence plan there are only two shifts, ‘A Watch’ which is working 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, and ‘B Watch’ 6:00 pm to 6:00 am, all officers work twelve hour shifts. Four Officers ride together in one car and three cars travel together to handle each call so everywhere we go, a squad of twelve Officers are there to deal with any situation.
Next to the Police station was a strip mall that was now in flames and hundreds of people racing in and out of it looting. Gunfire rang out and I could see the muzzle flashes as many people shot towards the Police station and us. It was like a gauntlet as we entered and exited the Police station. Police cars had to line up behind cover and then make a mad dash across the parking lot because people in the crowd would shoot their guns at us. Many Police cars had numerous bullet holes in them but no Officers hit.
Everything around the Police station was on fire, even the billboards. Our squad went out to patrol the streets and as we drove down the street I said, “It’s like the end of the world… I can’t believe what I am seeing.” We observed several people carrying large boxes out of a Hardware store so we stopped and ran inside the store. “FREEZE… GET DOWN ON THE GROUND!” We yelled at a couple of dozen people still inside pointing our guns at them. All the people phoned themselves out on the floor. As they lay on the floor I asked, “Now what… what are we going to do with twenty plus people when there are thousands doing the same thing?” We decided to just leave them there and ordered them not to move as we backed out of the store, got into our Police cars and left. Ten minutes later we passed by the store and the entire building was engulfed in flames. “Those people must have been pissed we made them lat down in all that broken glass,” one Officer said with a chuckle. “Yeah, %$#@ them, and %$#@ everyone… &%$#@ people” said another Officer.
We continued our Patrol for the rest of the night. Never in my life have I seen such mob mentality, children, adults and even the elderly were looting, dancing like wild animals and acting out of control. All we could attempt to do was to chase people away from doing too much damage but it turned out our efforts were ineffective, hopeless and futile.
I had been up for over twenty-four hours and was exhausted. “Everyone be back at 1800 hours,” the Sergeant barked, as he dismissed B watch. “See you tonight, Serge,” I said getting into my personal car to drive home. “I’m too tired to even get out of my uniform,” I mumbled, as I drove away.