Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, Jan. 12, 1960

Jan. 12, 1960, Mirror Cover
Bishop Sweet Daddy Grace, founder of 700 Houses of Prayer for All People in America and Cuba, dies at 234 W. Adams Blvd.

Traffic Tickets Costly in Time

Paul Coates    It was suggested yesterday by an anonymous but thrift-conscious Los Angeles city councilman that City Hall employees cut down on their coffee breaks and shoulder up to their duty of giving maximum service to taxpayers.

    And I, as a taxpayer, agree with him.  In fact, I think he’s just scratched the surface of the problem.

    You ask me, I say a full-scale investigation into the habits of city personnel is in order.  From my casual knowledge of their department, I suspect that a lot more abuses of the eight-hour day will be uncovered.

    Have you ever considered, for example, the amount of time completely wasted by a motorcycle officer when he stops you for a traffic violation?

    Police brass will deny it, but I strongly suspect that the officers’ pattern of behavior is charted in a top-secret police manual and part of the compulsory instruction given rookies at the Police Academy.

    It’s too much to believe that all those men in leather jackets go through that same lengthy ritual by coincidence.

    The procedure is this:

    After motioning suspect’s vehicle to curb, officer parks his motorcycle 10 feet to rear.  Officer dismounts with studied, deliberate nonchalance (15 seconds), casually inspects his bike (20 seconds), gives his front tire a critical kick (5 seconds).

    Officer then carefully removes his goggles (10 seconds) and his gloves, one finger at a time (2 seconds per finger, which in most instances amounts to 20 seconds).

    Officer then checks his two breast pockets, two slash pockets in uniform breeches, then right rear pocket, before locating citation pad in left rear pocket.  (20-25 seconds allowable time.  If less, officer should drop ballpoint pen long enough to make up difference.)

Jan. 12, 1960, Finch Trial     Make notation of license number (10 seconds).  Advance toward offender’s vehicle unhurriedly, allowing enough time for driver’s guilt feelings to build sufficiently (45 seconds).  Clear throat (10 seconds).  Study offender seriously, achieving, if possible, expression of resigned disgust (15 seconds).

    Then, make polite greeting to fit the occasion, e.g., “Good afternoon, Madam.  Lovely day.”  Or, “Good evening, Sir. Beastly weather, but I suppose we need the rain.”

    Allowing no more than 15 seconds for pleasantries, officer then proceeds to write ticket with dispatch.

    The cost of the entire operation to taxpayers is 3 min., 10 sec.  Multiplied by the number of tickets a policeman is required to write every day, you can see that motorcycle officers are wasting much valuable time which could be far better spent in ferreting those Mafia rats out of their holes.  Or at least, in patrolling the general vicinity of Rondelli's..

    As far as the Fire Department is concerned, I’ve got no complaints, other than that at a very minimum expenditure, they could grease those poles so they’d get down a little faster.

Caffeine Vacation

    As a Mirror News article on the situation pointed out yesterday, every minute costs. According to the article, two daily quarter-hour coffee breaks total up to the equivalent of an extra three weeks vacation a year.

    Add to this an average of three trips a day to the City Hall ladies room by each female clerk-typist for the sole purpose of straightening her seams, and it’s evident that we taxpayers aren’t getting our money’s worth.

    I’d also estimate that department heads waste at least three hours a week trying to convince their secretaries that their wives don’t understand them.

    This results not only in a serious loss of man-hours, but if allowed to go unchecked, it could result in office gossip, which naturally detracts from the general efficiency.

    In my job at the Mirror News, I’m entitled to the usual two coffee breaks.

    But I’ll tell you the truth.  I’d rather pass them and take the three weeks all at once.  You know, if it’s all right with my managing editor.  Anyway, coffee keeps me awake.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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