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COP TALES: A little help from a citizen

Cop Tales are true stories as told by law enforcement officers from all over the country. The stories are told in the first person. The actual officer’s initials follow each story.

From a citizen

We had just finished eating dinner at one of our favorite restaurants near the freeway. We were headed west on a city street when we stopped at a red light before turning right. While I was waiting for the oncoming traffic to complete their left-hand turns, a city police officer pulled up next to me in the No. 3 lane.

Our light finally turned green, but one more driver just had to make that left-hand turn after their light had turned red. The officer and I made eye contact and I motioned for him to go ahead and turn in front of me and go after them. The officer did and he stopped the vehicle. As I passed by the officer, he gave me a "thank you" wave.

- DA

In the center divider?

On New Year’s Eve in 1973, my partner and I were working graveyards for the highway patrol. We were assigned to a major freeway in a very large city. Of course, our main focus that night was to remove the DUI drivers from the roadways.

We stopped for a vehicle that was stopped in the center divider. We always tried to get vehicles out of the center divider because it was very dangerous there. Other drivers could drift into the center divider and strike the vehicles.

I was the passenger officer that night. I approached the driver's side of the stopped car because it was too dangerous to approach from the passenger side due to the fast traffic next to the stopped car. I noticed the windows were fogged up. When I looked in the back seat of the vehicle, let’s just say they were enjoying each other’s company, in the center divider!

They advised they were returning from a New Year’s party and were overwhelmed by each other’s passion. We determined they were sober and assisted them back onto the freeway. We also directed them to find a safer place to continue their party.

- BC

There is help

After I was involved in my second fatal shooting, I experienced nightmares, sleeping disorders, stomach issues and other symptoms. I thought I was making up those ailments until I spoke to another officer who had also been in a serious shooting incident. We stood there for hours describing our thoughts and symptoms. It was such a relief to know that what I was experiencing was a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. As first responders, we see a lot of tragedies, fatal accidents, deceased persons, lost children, etc. Today, there are many sources of assistance to first responders. You don’t have to go through tough times alone.

The Public Safety Professionals Retreat, or ProSPeR, is a nonprofit, six-day intensive retreat that provides first responders the opportunity to acquire and practice new coping skills while improving personal and professional relationships. They work with their guests to address issues such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and suicidal thoughts using trauma-informed preventative and early-intervention models in a confidential, secure environment.

In development since 2011, PSPR conducted its first retreat in the spring of 2016 and they are tremendously excited about the upcoming retreat set for March 6-11, 2022, in Kern County. Their earlier retreats have proven to be particularly successful in assisting and developing their guests’ personal growth and recovery of occupational passion and healthy retirement. These achievements are attributed to their outstanding and committed clinical staff, phenomenal peer support system, and the willingness of their guests to attain a healthier state of being.

ProSPeR was specifically created for first responders including, but not limited to, law enforcement officers, firefighters, dispatchers, emergency medicine professionals, and correctional officers. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with the stressors of a front-line, public safety profession, please know: There is HELP. There is HOPE. There is ProSPeR. Please contact them at or look them up at


Brian Smith served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and retired as an assistant chief with the California Highway Patrol. He resides in Bakersfield. If you have a personal “Cop Tale” to share, please contact Smith at