In this interview I sit down with retired LAPD Detective Dave Escoto. Dave had an amazing career with several different assignments as a detective. Come ride along with us as Dave tells some of his craziest stories from the job!
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this is things police see first-handaccounts with your oast Steve goldhey guys welcome to the podcast in thisweek’s episode I sit down an interviewretired LAPD detective Dave Escoto Davewas a detective for LAPD for many yearsthis guy really did it all and he hassome really great stories to share hetalks about using his humor as a weaponhe talks about a pretty funny situationwith some Eastern European women fromthe 1984 Olympics he tells the storyabout a time his partner saved his lifeand you know tricking prostitutes whileon the jobit’s just a really fun interestinginterview I had a really great time withit and I think you’re gonna really enjoyit too at the end of the interview hehas some really good advice for how heused to deal with just all the traumaand things that he saw on the job so umreally good piece at the end Dave isjust a great guy he’s one of these guysthat when you meet him you’re likewithin five minutes you’re like I wantto party with this guy I like this guyso I know you guys are gonna love himwithout further ado here is Davis Cottodavis Cotto thank you for coming on thepodcast my man could you just telleverybody in just like in a nutshell anduh it’s a brief synopsis of your careerlike who you work for and where youstart in the in just the positions youhelped 82 I was sent to rampart divisionwhere I was a bhoot a rookie I did myyear there on patrol from there I wentto jail division because they will youafter you make probation you either goto another division or communications orjail and that was one of the lucky onesthat went to jailbetter than being a dispatcher yeah yeahI mean not as good as going to anotherdivision where you could work patrol butyou know it was an experience right nothat’s the most fights I’ve ever been inwas when I worked gel division I canonly imagine yeah and that’s what themisdemeanor arrests a felony guys themurderers and everybody else they werereal cool and calm and you knowthey just said hey I did it so I’m gonnabe okay it’s all the drunks and all thestreet people that are rowdy and gettingfights with but from there I went toWilshire divisionI stayed there gosh maybe ten years workPatrol vice detective trainee back thenif you wanted to see what it was like tobe a detective they had a program whereyou could go work detectives that’s atrainee and if you make detective youhave to make detective within threeyears or you get kicked out and sentback to patrol so I ended up makingdetective stayed at Wilshire worth goshI worked all the tables homicide well Istarted in autos work burglary robberysex crimes then went to homicide fromthere I went to Foothill for about halfa year from there I went to internalaffairs for three years oh my god youhad a lot of different positions yeahWow well internal affairs that was kindof a fluke I had no plans and working itbut uh lieutenant I worked for new Ispoke Spanish and had homicideexperience cuz I had worked homicidesfor gosh seven years of my detectivecareer and he said we got this case atinternal affairs were uh this copper whois divorcing his wife the West prettyupset and she came to internal affairsand said that he killed two peoplebefore he became a cop so uh that alieutenant came and asked me if I’dworked the case on loan to internalaffairs because the wife only spokeSpanish you know I spoke Spanish I workhomicide so I I went it took me aboutthree months and I found both peoplealive and that she said he killed theywere alive and she was the one that wasa pretty vindictive you know a womanscorned I guess yeah yeah yeah you knowI cleared this guy and then I ended upstaying at internal affairs for anothertwo and a half years working me a followhome team which the undercover unitwe’re if the accusations are seriousenough we’ll put a team of undercovercops on the police officer and followhim around so I was an investigator onthat squad Wow that’s good for people toknow thatthat’s really yeah the police policethemselves too you knowyeah well most please I guess all thepolice departments take pride and youknow in you know take care of their ownand you know schooling their own andwatching their own weeding out the badguys right and then from there internalaffairs I went to Van Nuys went tohomicide again and then back to Wilshirewhere I ended up my career that’samazing man that’s a that’s a big careerhow many years was a total I did thirtyyears thirty years Wowyeah twenty-three years as a detectiveand the first seven years would patrolin Vice oh yeah I left that out I wouldadvise for two years man you do the lawprobably the best time I had ever on thejob was working vice that was a blastcan you dig deep and tell us about thefirst like really hot call you respondedto as a young copper like a call thatreally got you got your adrenaline goingyeah I was probably two days out of theAcademy working a rampart division andrampart was you know very busy back thenCarter was president and he led all theCuban both people in DNA excuse me theUnited States and Castro loaded theboats with his prisoners and he sentover all you know he cut his prison thenhe sent all the other cons to the UnitedStates Wowhe saw the opportunity and he’s like I’mgonna clean my country nuts and you knowlots of guns lots of robberieseverything else but my first callintense call was it was a 415 manwhich you know creating a disturbanceand so 415 man means like a disorderlyconduct type of thing yeah and the wifehad called it in and said she she can’treason with him he just got throughsmoking PCP he’s breaking up furnitureand cut himself he’s bleeding she’safraid he’s gonna die his descriptionwas about six for 250 poundswe get the call and my partner and I arerolling and we get some backup becauseyou know if he’s on PCP we didn’t wantto handle it by ourselves so I’m twodays out of the Academy just thinking ohman here we go so we get there all sixof us six coppers you know we make agame plan and it was in Echo Park soit’s pretty hilly so a lot of the homeshave a Stara staircase leading up to thefront door and that’s how this house wasso me being the guy with the leastamount of time on the job my partnersaid you’re going first okay so I’mstarting to walk up these steps andthere was probably about 50 steps woodensteps and their creaking as you’re goingup and can’t hear anything luckily itwas daylight so I’m working my way upand I keep looking back and I can seethe other five coppers behind me so Iknow so I’m thinking okay if I get in afight I might get my butt kicked alittle bit but we’re gonna win so get upto the top and here’s this big big whiteguy he’s probably and he’s probably sixsix 260 pounds just hugest muscular looklike a ex-con he’s sitting down and he’scovered in bloodand he looks up and he looks at me andhe starts to stand up and he goes I hateMexicans you know so do I so he startscracking up and he bends down he putshis hands on his knees as he’s laughingso I was able to grab his head and pullhim on the ground and we all swarmed himand was able to cuff him and nobody gothurt he didn’t get hurtwife was happy in the house was a littlemessed up but that that was probably themost intense time radio call I had isjust walking up those steps not knowingyou know what I’m gonna run into oh yeahI mean especially PCP like yeah thestories from back in the day were likeoh people are flipping cars over bythemselves on PCP yeah breakinghandcuffs yeahit was nuts that’s but yeah it workedout I love that you diffused it withhumor that’s great yeah let’s play Ididn’t know what damn it was good itworked out that’s awesomedude can you tell us about a strange orlike really bizarre call that youresponded to in your career yeahMy partner and I get a call and this isreally bizarre and it kind of ties inwith humor also but we get a call it’s awelfare check this there’s this eightyyear old woman that lives alone in herapartment and her family’s out of stateand they can’t get ahold of her and it’sabout 11 o’clock at night and they theysaid they couldn’t get her hold of herfor all day all day and all night andthey’re worried about her so you knowthey call it a welfare check so mypartner and I get the call we go to thefront door start banging on it no answerno answer something another sport thispoor girl’s dad I’m gonna be a DB calldead body call so we get the manager tolet us in the manageryou know we explain him what we’re doinghe unlocks the door and the not thedeadbolt but the chain lock was on so wehad to kick the door open so we walk inand down the hall we can see the bedroomand we can see her bits facing thehallway so and the head we could see theheadboard and we could see her lying inbed so yeah I’m thinking guys she’s youknow she didn’t hear us she’s dead thisand that my partner says well go checkher you know I’m still a rookie so I gotto do the check and righthe does make sure she’s okay and there’sno foul play so I walk up and I’mlooking at her and I put my head down tosee if she’s breathing you know I’mgonna see if I can get her pulse on herneck and when I get my face is probably12 inches from her face all of a suddenher eyes open he looks at me startscreaming I start screaming My partnerscreaming the manager screaming well shecouldn’t hear she was deafthe poor gal was just sleeping and if wethought she was dead it scared the hellout of her but that’s the most bizarremost bizarre call that can recall anywaywow that’s great yeah yeah it was it wascrazy just to see meyou know I’m back then your partnersthey all had you know 15 18 20 years onyour training officer so you knowthey’re pretty rough-and-tumble guy ispretty some people but ya salty but lookover see him screaming that’s funnyoh man well that’s that’s a pretty funnycone itself do you have uh you haveanother call that stands out as a like avery humorous moment I had about threeyears on the job and I took my vacationand so I was able to work the Olympicsduring my vacation so I work 12-hourshifts for uh probably three weeksstraight and I worked a bunch ofdifferent assignments and one day I’massigned to the rooftop of one of thedorms in the Olympic Village and was atUCLA University California Los Angelesand they had an Olympic Village thereand then they had one at USC I was onthe rooftop me and about five guys mm-hmyou know we can see the whole campuspretty much and you know just forsecurity reasons we’re looking aroundand we look over it in the next dorm andhere’s all these european femaleathletes just you know ten bodies andeverything else just butt-ass nakedlooking at us waving I can’t believethis it’s terribleit was terrible I go in to watch and gohome and take a nap that’s amazingthat’s yeah that’s just they weretotally totally comfortable letting inall yeah no you can’t do that hereyou gotta go put some bathing suits onthat’s greatI mean that’s funny even that’s even toomuch for California you know yeah yeahit reminds me I had when I was a when Ifirst started as a natural resourceofficer I was going down the river and Iused to hire summer seasonal help to runthe patrol boats usually college kidsfrom a maritime academy now and we’redriving down the rivers bass river inthis town of Yarmouth and over to theright there’s like these three collegegirls on a I’m like what’s been theirgrandmother’s dock because big house inthe water I mean the corporate likeHarbor Patrol the yelling at us werewave and uh the people loved us she uhall three of them pulled their shirts upshow they show their breasts you knowand out of the house behind them comesthis old old woman probably in her youknow in her eighties thank God knows youscream at them quit doing that the kid Iwas training was like is this what it’salways like here I’m like you wishabsolutely maybe six years on the joband he and I became really good friendsI mean we worked together for a whileyou knew my wife I knew his wife we’d goout to dinner and you know just just gotalong really well and this one day I’mdriving he’s he’s keeping books you knowhe handles the radio he keeps a log andwe got a radio call of shots firedvictim down suspect is the victim’shusband they’re both in the front yardof their home and he’s standing therewith the gun in his hand so my partnerand I start it was way over on the otherside of the divisionsI was working Wilshire division so westarted going down the street and mypartner you know we’re going co3 licensesiren my partner says hey let’s cutthrough Southwest Division and we’ll getthere quicker so we were going downCrenshaw we come up on WashingtonBoulevard and there’s a guy standing inthe middle ofintersection waving his hands justwaving his hands at us so I had to stopor I dread him over and he points to hisleft and he said those guys just robbedmy store and there’s four guys in a carthey pulled him to a gas station allfour of them jump out and they all haveguns and they all point them at usquint of guns that my partner and I andyou know so we bail out of the car wetake cover we you know we have our gunsdrawn kind of look up they start runningthrough the gas station into an alley sowe’re chasing them you know taking coveras we chase them my partner’sbroadcasting you know atw and a policeofficer 211 suspects even assault with adeadly weapon on a police officer turn11 and 2 lemons robbery rent hurt rightright there running through the alleygave their descriptions and I’m huggingthe wall of the gas station working myway towards the alley and he’s behind meand I’m almost ready to turn into thealley and he says Dave let’s wait forbackup the people you know backupscoming troops are coming and we can hearthe sirens and everything else of allthe all the coppers responding so youknow we set up a perimeter we ended upcatching three of the four and some ladycomes down she lived her apartmentoverlooked the alley she walks over tome and she said I’m glad you didn’t turnthat corner into the alley I said whyand she said the last guy was standingthere with this gun at head level justwaiting for you to turn the corner oh mygosh you know my partner saved my lifeyeah you know I could have been gone wemight not be having this conversationyeah yeah but we ended up catching threeof the four and and you know then I wentto jail for robbery and assault on apolice officer and it worked out butyeah that was that was something that’sspooky yeah and you know my voice shakesa little bit when I still talk about itso crazy that’s intense man yeah yeahit’s been anyway that’s that’s anotherone thanks for letting me share thatknowing black therapyabsolutely I was gonna ask youif you could tell us about like the mostintense or most frightening call thatyou respond to do a man with a gun callin rampart division and as we’re goingthere we started taking shots and therounds were hitting the top of the carjust skidding off the roof of our carstill you know we my partner Knight youknow pull over we take cover and set upa perimeter and find out what rooftopthe shots were coming from but you knowthe guy was gone all that was left was abunch of casings but the next day mypartner and I are cruising around I saidlet’s go down the same street see seewhat’s going on see that if anybody’sgonna take any more potshots at us andhe said hey you know that’s the streetsbelong to citizens and us not the badguys let’s go so we you know we didn’tback off we just cruised on he alwayssaid we had the biggest gang in LosAngeles not not the bad guys it’s LAPDhas a best gang so right that’s anotherintense story when bullets are bouncingoff the top of your car you you can youcan’t help but imagine like is one ofthese things going to come through andjust go right through my head you knowyeah I have a question for you I justhad a curiosity and people might beinterested in it you said you workedvice when they work when you work vicethere’s like your expect to make you’reexpected to mix it up a little bit likegoing to bars oh yeah yeah you knowthat’s that kind of fascinates me theidea of like you know having a beer onduty it’s like really appealing to me goin and have a beer or two and see ifthey’re serving drunks obvious andtoxicants if there’s a b-girls a lot ofthe Hispanic bars have girls that youknow they’re called B girls what they dois they solicit drinks from the patronsand they’ll say hey let’s dance andthey’ll say you know buy me a bottle aglass of champagne or whatever and youknow they they get charged double whichis against the law because right afterWorld War two most of the GIS comingback from the wartell their money at these bars so theywere all over the United States so theythey made him illegal so what we weregambling prostitution and you know thatthat was a the best time I had on thejob was uh was working vice get the girlyour hair grow a beard yeah absolutelywhat was the rule like if you’re goingin like and you’re gonna have a cocktailyou know to kind of obviously to fit inyou’re not gonna go in there yes get asoda water or somethingwere you loud like one drink an hour orsomething or you allow two drinks in aneight-hour shiftenough I know but what you do is youknow you have a drink and you’re anotherone and you spill it you throw it underthe bar and then you order another oneyeah so you tell your supervisor anywayI’m picking up what you’re putting downthere that’s good especially when notworking street prostitutes and you canget the same one twice that’s that’s howit’s good that you know that that’s whatwe’ll all the guys strive for is try toget the same drill twice because but youknow you’re a cop but if you can talkyour way into getting a violation againyeah you’re the manyeah would they just have like memorieslike goldfish they just don’t knowprostitution and she well would have youknow you work them and they say you’re acop and I’m saying no I’ll pull over andI say get out of my car you’re a cop youknow I I can’t afford to go to jail andthen she’d say well what a what a cop dothis I’m no cop and she looked up herdress and you know show you the hardwareright and you know arrested her becauseI got the violation the sex for moneyand then a couple weeks later I see herout in the street and I pull over andshe goes hey officer Escoto how youdoing and I said I’m doing good you knowthe last time I saw you unfortunately Iarrested you but you know when youshowed me what you had I really got youknow I really liked itkidding me you did yeah that’s good whatcanget in the car and I go yeah and shegoes are you working and I said no I’moff-dutyso she gets in and she goes well youknow I’m not gonna give it to you howmuch are you gonna pay and I said wellhow much are you asking and you know andthen I got the violation that’s my moneyso I give I give the signal to mypartners they come up and arrest her andwell as they were walking up she looksback and I said oh no it’s InternalAffairs they’ve been following me shegoes oh I’ll cover you so when they comeup she goes oh officers some guy justrobbed me and officer Escoto was justtaking me to a safe place it was he wascovering for me oh you must have feltlike at least a little bit bad he was anice girl but you just strung out I’m oncrack you know yeah it’s it’sunfortunate how how drugs will we’ll dothis yeah oh my god I mean talk aboutjust kind of believing what she wantedto believe like oh like oh no no I’m offduty don’t worry about it this time yeahthey don’t want to help ya you can’tcan’t force it on really yeah yeah Ifelt bad but right Dave had anotherquestion for yousince you worked a long career andthrough the 80s and everything I’m justkind of curious the media now the waythe media reports on police actions theykind of they seem to excuse the pun thatjumped the gun a lot you know what Imean they kind of just throw things outthere and then later don’t apologizewhen it when it’s just clearly was aninflammatory headline made to sellpapers and get clicks you know downloadsyou know was that was it I mean Iassumed that it’s been like that foreveri they were doing that in a 80’s and90’s when you were people like friendsand family ask me that question I I justfound that you know you just got atake it in stride just you know just doyour best if you do the right thing youknow it’s it’s gonna work out and peopleeventually you know they’re gonnarealize that you know cops aren’t thatbad there are bad cops you know I’lladmit that of course and when I workedin South Central LA you know 90 98percent of the people will give you theshirts off their back you know in theghettos and everything else if you needhelp they’re there to help you it’s attwo three four percent that’s bad andand it’s saving on police departmentsand others three four or five percentthat bad cops and but you know we takepride in policing our own you know whyshould it be any different than anyother person and you know that whenworking backgrounds some some people getthrough that that shouldn’t you know ithappens but you know we police our ownwhen you’re caught you know you got topick a side you can’t you can’t liveboth sides you I mean you had a longlong career David that’s amazing did youumwas there anything you did for yourselfor just just for your mental health Imean because that’s a it’s 30 years ofstress you’re dealing with there andthere’s a lot of a lot of cops out theyaccrue that they get that PTSD withouteven knowing it because it’s unlike youknow unlike war you’re you’re expectedto go home and do it the next day youknow you did it’s never ends really it’syour job did you do anything specificthat um helped you out what I understoodmy job and I I never ever brought thejob home you know no and I did my job atwork when I came home I was a family manI wasn’t I wasn’t a cop anymore okay youknow just a regular person but what I’veseen these guys that that take it homeand they live it 24/7 those are the onesthat that uh you know they pop a gasketyeah we can’t turn it off you can’t turnit up and you got to be able to turn itup and that’s a you know a stable stablehome life will do that absolutely Iagree 100% yeahyeah he said you know one time I had awhen I was working homicide yeah gosh itwas really through my my head off it wasthe doctor said I even went to see adoctor and he said I had a chemicalimbalance what happened is I went toobserve an autopsy and when I walkedinto the coroner’s office it was so busythey had grows and rows of Gurney’s withbodies in the hallway and one of theGurney’s had this little arm coming outyou know and and it was the samecomplexion and st. in same size as mydaughter Jillian she was a five yearsold and I’m looking at that and I knewit wasn’t Jillian but I had to go andpull the blanket off and look at thedead body just to make sure it wasn’t mydaughter and when it wasn’t and and Iknew it wasn’t you know I got reallylightheaded you know it was I had to gohome end up going to the doctor you knowit was all psychological but you knowI’m I’m good now sure there’s a one ofmy first law enforcement jobs there wasum I’d got told this story but they hada real bad drowning with a young kid youknow six-year-old kid and the naturalresource officer that got the body outof the pond was had a six-year-old sonexact same age so the store as the storygoes but my co-workers I was workingwith he he had since moved on to and Ithink he became a sheriff in a southernstate but deputy sheriff but anyways hehe got a real problem you know he he gotin his head and then he couldn’t stopsitting on the edge of his son’s bed atnight so he would just go home and sitthere and then it just turned into thisproblem when he couldn’t go to bed so Imean those things get your head andrattle around it’s it’s that’s bad newsyou know you bring once you know what itis and your brain will take care ofitself and you get back to normalyeah youthe right thing you go talk to someoneyou take care of it for the longest timeI had to I’d go into our bedroom andjust sitting there alone and tell mywife can you know I I just need to bealone and then that was for weeks andweeks but better no that’s great yet cuza lot of unfortunately it’s gettingbetter now but a lot of a lot of copperswill just build this drink like theywon’t go talk to anybody that’s work youknow though instead they’ll just godrinking with the guys and come homelate and you know everybody knows howthat story ends you know it’s not butyou know I I just didn’t bring my workhome so Dave in those 30 years do youhave a pearl of wisdom that you couldput out there for the new recruit thecandidate that’s trying to be a policeofficer wants it so badly they can tasteit is there any advice you would givethem from becoming a cop just do theright thing you can’t you can’t playboth sides you know you got a pick andchoose a side if you pick the side of acop or a law enforcement then that’swhat you got to live you got to live andbreathe it you know on an off duty andI’m not saying you know get rid of yourold friends because when I when I did mybackgrounds I remember my backgroundinvestigator tell me a lot of coppersonly associate with other coppers andsaid don’t do that he said keep your oldfriends and your good friends are gonnabe the ones that you know don’t smoke ajoint in front of you do this do thatyou know they’re gonna respect you thoseare your good friends right anything anddon’t get rid of those people you knowyou got to be able to know that there’sother life other than law enforcementthat’s great yeah that’s what I eventell recruits not recruits but Canada’swhen I when I talk to themthat’s excellent you’re like them you’relike the third or fourth person I’veinterviewed that said that exact samething so it’s oh it’s got to be trueabsolutely I know you’re saying tooabout picking aside it’s likelike you were saying before you can gohome and have family time and not be youknow in cop mode but you can’t go homeand you know go in your basement smoke abunch of joints like you you gotta yougotta if you’re gonna force a lawyou gotta stay true to it so yeahabsolutely yeah Dave I can’t thank youenough for coming on the podcast manthose were some great stories and Ireally appreciate you sharing them withus thanks man I appreciate you yougetting a hold of me and letting me dothisthis is up awesome okay thank you sirsounds good all right guys thank you forhanging with Dave and I if you’ve beenliking the podcast and you want to showsome support for it the best thing youcan do right now is click Subscribe andif you want to go nuts on top of thatyou can rate and review it that’s athat’s a big help to a new podcasttrying to get its legs under it so I’dappreciate it if you did that and ifyou’re a law enforcement officer and youwant to get a hold of me or you’reinterested on going on the show andbeing interviewed you can reach me atthings police c @ gmail.com thingsplease c @ gmail.com thank you and goodnight