An LAPD Old School Forty-Year-Old-Anecdote- My 1983 Promotional Party to Detective III at Hollywood Homicide Division

October 29, 2023
Birch Bay, Washington
I came across some photographs from the long ago that made me smile in remembrance of a special night in my life.
It was in the spring of 1983. My good friend, Russell Lee Kuster, the Detective III Supervisor at Hollywood Homicide and I
were just about to go EOW (End of Watch) after a day’s work at Hollywood Homicide.
Russ walked over to my desk and said, “Steve, let me buy to a Scotch or three to celebrate your recent promotion to D3.
It’s been a long time coming.” My response, “Sure Russ. Meet at VJ’s?” (One of our local watering holes at Sunset and Gower St.)
Russ replied, “No, How about the Tam O Shanter on Los Feliz.” (Another of our favorite hangouts, built in 1922, and which last year celebrated its hundredth birthday.)
I responded, “See you there in twenty minutes.”
                                                          “The Tam” circa 1922   THEN and NOW
I beat Russ to the bar by about three minutes, just enough time to order my usual “Johnny Walker Black Label on the rocks.”
Russ ordered a beer and said, “Steve grab your drink, I want to show you something.” I did as ordered and followed Russ back to a closed door and he said, “After you.” I opened it and much to my surprise the room was filled with most of the guys from our homicide team as well as a few of my ex-partners from patrol division.
I was greeted with a big “Congratulations!” A surprise party for my recent promotion to Detective III.
A few more drinks and presents followed. Russ took charge and presented me with a few special gifts.

D3 Russ Kuster congratulating D3 Hodel    Presented with a signed congrats from “Dirty Harry”
This was followed by a newspaper headline that read: “HODEL FOOLS RAMPART LIEUTENANT”
(Since Russ Kuster was the D3 at Hollywood Homicide and would be remaining I was on the
transfer list to my new position as supervisor of the Rampart Burglary Detail and also assigned to work unsolved Cold Case Homicides in that division for the last three years of my career, before retiring in 1986.)

After receiving a few plaques honoring my seventeen years at Hollywood, I was given what I considered my most special present. They can been seen on the corner table above and enlarged below.

Four ducks lined up in a row but with one major exception. Three of the ducks were all facing forward and the fourth duck, with a name tag of “HODEL” on its neck was facing the other direction.
The meaning- “Hodel doesn’t walk with the rest of the ducks.” (He marches to the beat of his own drum.)
I took/take great pride in this recognition.  Following my own path and direction has served me well in both the past and present. It was an honor for my fellow detectives and partners some forty years ago to recognize and “say it out loud.”
On a sad note, D3 Russel Lee Kuster, seen here in a happy moment with his fellow detectives, was gunned down by a psychopath while off duty and in another restaurant/bar some seven years later, on October 9, 1990. Russ tried to talk the suspect down who was brandishing his weapon and in an exchange of gunfire both he and the suspect were killed. Below articles provide a summary to the tragic murder. The article “Where Predators Feed” was written by my good friend retired FBI agent and bestselling author, Jerry Petievich honoring Russ back in 1990.






  1. Dennis Effle on October 30, 2023 at 5:23 am

    Here’s to all the, “Odd Ducks,” around the world. I wish the department would recognize your work on the Dahlia case today.

    • Steve Hodel on October 30, 2023 at 9:43 am

      Dennis E.
      Thanks for your past 23 year support Dennis. Mucho appreciated.

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