I LOVE History. Especially American. Especially Twentieth Century – post War era. Film(s) noir, depicting such a period. And stuff based on real events.
The Hat Squad was a loose team of L.A.P.D. detectives, roughly from the late 40s to the early 60s. Popular culture has used them in such films as The Hat Squad, Mullholland Falls, and L.A. Confidential. And Stephen J. Cannell (of The Rockford Files and about 20 other shows) even pegged a short-lived television show on them.
But the real Hat Squad was something much more than lauded in West Coast crime fiction. They were real men who lived by a code – not the code of Mulholland Falls, but not the police department service manual, either.
LOS ANGELES – In this city where everything and everyone can be reinvented, true crime has long become true drama.
The Los Angeles Police Department stars in both.
The LAPD Hat Squad of the 1940s and ’50s starred four detectives in crisp fedoras and matching suits costing two weeks’ pay.
Publicly revered, the squad became known for its more secretive duties, including getting rid of Eastern mobsters seeking to expand business. According to legend, the Hat Squad discouraged visiting gangsters by meeting them at the airport and beating the wanderlust out of them.
Two of the detectives later became judges. None was ever disciplined.
“They were so feared and respected that when we’d announce such-and-such a case had been turned over to the Hat Squad, many of the suspects in those cases would voluntarily give themselves up,” department veteran Dan Cooke, now dead, told a local newspaper in 1987.
Inevitably, a movie depicted the well-dressed quartet. In 1996’s “Mulholland Falls,” Nick Nolte played its leader. In an early scene, a bloodied don is about to be tossed from a canyon ledge.
“You can’t do that, this is America,” the gangster squeaks.
“This isn’t America, Jack,” says Nolte. “This is L.A.”
And here, fact and fiction continuously blend.
I don’t think anyone had done a definitive work on them. Perhaps they are afraid. Just like no one will touch the FBI’s Cointelpro program with any depth. Funny, they’ll do the NSA’s MK Ultra…?
We need to look at the triumph and tribulations of our police past to make certain history doesn’t repeat itself on a
national federal scale.
Perhaps it already has.