Looking Back: Frank Mika, One of a Kind – By Scott Reitz

Every now and then you come across and individual who stands out in your memory.  Frank Mika was such a person.  He was not only my partner in SWAT but he was the first honest to goodness street cop I had ever experienced the streets with.

Back in 1976, the LAPD Academy allowed you to go on one ride-along in the streets towards the latter part of Academy training.  I got Wilshire Division where I would ultimately conduct my probationary training.  I also got Frank Mika.  Now my classmates went on some “ride-alongs” but no one experienced what I did on that first night on the streets of Los Angeles.

Frank must have decided to take recruiting to a whole new level.  He took me on every “hot-shot” call, every ambulance shooting, stabbing and violent domestic disturbance he could buy or “roll on”.  If there was pursuit or crime scene Frank managed to get us there.  How he did it I do not know but he did.  From the time we hit the streets to the end of watch some 10 or 11 hours later it was non-stop, full throttle action.  I could not sleep for days.  Other classmates really got a handle on tickets, community relations and getting cats down out of trees while Frank decided to give the kid (me) a real experience.  If nothing else cemented my desire to go full time LAPD it was that night.

Years later Frank would be my partner in SWAT.  On the first day assigned together I took the Metro ride home to organize and polish it.  Now I did this without Frank’s knowledge. When a SWAT call up came in that very night and he went to West Valley station to pick up the ride, which was in my garage getting the full wax on – wax off treatment,  Frank called me : “Hey #@%*&!!! Where’s the #@%*& car?”  “I’ve got it.”  “Listen you little @#%$&^*&#$@%^$#&^%*$@*&^!!!!  Get it to me right %$#@&%$* now!!!”  Frank had a very unique way and flourish with the English language.

We had a lot of fun together.  It was Bob Guzman, Frank and I on the car.  That the three of us did not burn down the city when we worked together was nothing short of a miracle.  We rolled on more hot calls, put away more bad guys and got involved in more capers than I can remember.  Frank came up with the police car polygraph concept.  He had bad guys put their hand over the police car’s light while he held the police mike in his hand behind his back.  He set the microphone to the public address system which sounded very much like a human heartbeat on full volume when you ‘keyed’ the microphone switch.  He’d then ask the suspect a question and began to key the mike rapidly behind his back when the suspect lied.  The suspect figured this polygraph thing really worked and he was hearing his own heartbeat so he started telling us the truth after a time.  It was absolutely hilarious.  It was also quintessential Frank Mika.

Frank had a seriously twisted sense of humor.  When you drove he would suddenly shout “Watch out!” when you crossed an intersection.  You really don’t have time to question such a thing from your partner when you’re driving so you’d slam on the brakes and swerve not knowing what was coming or where it was coming from.  Well….guess what?  There wasn’t anything coming and Frank would state “Made you look.” while your heart rate settled back down.  He would do this randomly so you never knew when it was coming nor if in fact, it was for real or not.  I got him back once however when we were driving into roll call at 114 on the Ventura Freeway.  It was stop and go traffic (Southern California after all) and I could see the guy driving behind us looking down just prior to rear ending us.  I shouted “Look out!”  Frank was reading the newspaper and he slowly turned toward me and began to say “Fuuuc…” when we were hit.  Franks face went back and then forward into the dashboard.  I swear the right side of his face had newsprint on it when he came up.  I was laughing so hard it hurt.  “Made you look mother#$@%^!!!”  Payback.

On another note he could seriously mess with you.  When he was in charge of the firearms/tactics training as a Sergeant II at the LAPD Academy he had a lot of credibility. At the time I was providing advanced firearms/tactics training out at the range to Divisions through Metro Division.  Apparently, at some point some young, blonde female officer approached Frank and queried him about my status of availability after she had been through our training on the range.  With a serious face Frank responded “Didn’t you know?  He’s gay.  We all know that but because we respect him no one really says anything.”  Now word on the department spreads like wild fire.  Think of it as a rather large women’s knitting circle with guns.  For about 6 months I could not figure out why officers responded to me differently than they had before when I trained them.  When I found out about this I saw Frank at the Academy.  Emblematic of Frank was his all too familiar response “Got you mother$@&$#%!!!”  Yes he did.

Frank would call anyone out on BS and he was a straight shooter if ever there was one.  He was a great partner and backed you to the wall.   He succumbed to brain cancer some time ago and I miss him a lot.  He was always there for you no matter what and was a great joy to be around.  There was only one Frank Mika and there won’t be another.  Thanks Frank… for everything!

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17 Responses to Looking Back: Frank Mika, One of a Kind – By Scott Reitz

  1. John Woo says:

    This is one of the best things I like about “Uncle” Scotty – his humorous rememberings.

  2. Jeff Sheldon says:

    Well done Scotty, Semper Fi.

  3. thebronze says:

    Awesome to hear these stories, Scott!

    RIP Frank…

  4. Kelly Starkey says:

    Great story! Is that the same Mika who made the pocket holsters that were sold at LAPRAAC?

  5. Hector Feliciano says:

    Yup, Frank was the man. I got to work for him when he was a boot Sergeant at Southwest shortly after the Olympics, then again after I left Metro and went to work for him at training Div (LETAC). Always looked after the troops. GREAT MENTOR.

  6. Fathi Beddiar says:

    What a great story ! Thank you for sharing it, Scotty.

    Frank was also pretty close to my uncle, Sergeant Jack Hoar. They clicked from the get-go since they were both US Army vets who saw combat in Vietnam (my uncle was 25th Infantry, Frank was 9th Riverine). Uncle Jack told me so many great stories about Frank. A genuine street cop/gunfighter who made sure LAPD would stay on top of the food chain. I’ve heard before the “polygraph test” story and it made me laugh out loud big time ! Frank was also such an LAPD historian. The DVD audio commentaries he recorded for the 2nd season of ADAM-12 gave you a glimpse of how deep was his knowledge about the job and its history. His death was a huge loss to LAPD and the angelenos. It was cops like Frank that made sure the community would stay safe from predators. He was the embodiement of Orwell’s quote : “Peope sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf…”.

  7. Ernie Haleck says:

    Nice writeup Scott on Frank. With all his kidding and playing around, he was a class act all the way and he is missed. See you on the range brother.
    Ernie

  8. Matt Murray says:

    Sgt. Mika was a outstanding person and tactics instructor. I also carried his little holsters for years. He is missed by all who had the pleasure of working with him.

  9. Don Long says:

    I was fortunate enough to partner up with Frank a number of times at the old NE Station on York Blvd. This time frame was prior to the Jacob’s Survey–we were P-2 Dogs working PM Watch. Frank had graduated from Franklin HS (local high school) and therefore grew up with a number of local “bad guys” who would end up handcuffed in the back seat of our patrol car.Whenever I’d run into Frank over the next 20 years, we’d laugh about all the fun times we’d had at NE Station, including all the nights he’d arm wrestle all comers at the front desk. I don’t recall Frank ever losing to anyone. Frank went on to influence so many police officers, always focusing on officer safety. You were one of kind my Brother!

  10. Rick Dedmon says:

    Scotty,
    Awesome article about Frank. I was thinking about him this morning and found it by accident. Frank was a very special guy and he taught me everything I know about tactics/use of force. We were partners for over five years in the Tactics Unit and he always kept me laughing. It’s because of him I became so passionate about use of force training.

    I miss him every day and I will never forget him. I still remember very well the last time I saw him just before I retired. He was the same old Frank, still plugging away at the Academy just before he got really sick.

    Love you Frank.

    Thanks for the memories about him Scotty.

    Rick

  11. MajorPain says:

    RIP, Brah

  12. Teri Mika says:

    Dearest Scotty.
    I am amazed that no one showed me your loving rememberance until now. Frank’s and my grand daughter, Elizabeth decided to look up Grandpa on her iphone as we sat in a restaurant waiting for dinner. She found your story and proceeded to read it to us. I was amazed and heart warmed. What a beautiful and funny story. You don’t know but my favorite thing is hearing “LAPD Frank Stories” from those who were impacted, trained, saved by his knowledge, or survived his humor. You did all and to a greater degree than most. I remember the day at Deaton Hall as so many came to pay there respects. You sat, unable to believe he was gone and so open in your grief. I will remember it always. It was a year before I could write his obituary. He loved you Scotty. He loved the family that put on the badge with him each day for so many years.
    Our family has been nurtured by the department, from Charlie on down.
    On July 16, we would have celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. I will celebrate the man I loved as well as awesome cop he was, the great dad and loving grandfather.
    Thank you Scotty for you funny and loving gift. I shall cherish your memories. Much love dear friend and God bless. Teri

  13. Teri Mika says:

    Mikas pocket mirrors and holsters are an invention of and produced by Robert Mika, Frank’s brother who retired after 20 out of Van Nuys.

  14. Wayne DeBord says:

    Just today ran onto this wonderfully written piece. I had the good fortune to have worked with Frank three different times during my career–I was assigned to OWB while Frank was at the Westside Major Violators Task Force; then in the late ’80s I was a vice cop in Hollywood while Frank (along with Larry Graham and Steve Taylor) was a PED supervisor; and, lastly, when we were partners, along with Al Thatcher, as the three PM Watch supervisors at OWB CRASH. A better cop, a more conscientious supervisor, a stronger tactician, or a funnier and nicer guy never wore the uniform. I feel honored to have called Frank my friend, brother, and partner. RIP.

  15. There are some coppers that you always remember. Frank Mika was one of those. We used to talk tactics and how it felt, aging in a young department and profession. He always encouraged and inspired all of us.

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