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COP TALES: Catching some z's when the chance arose

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.

Catching some z's

When I was younger, I would report for physical training early every morning in the Marine Corps, work all day, go to college for my criminal justice degree every night and do my homework when I got home. I was always exhausted. Most of the city consisted of Marines, so the banks had several drive-up tellers to handle the paydays every two weeks.

On one payday, I drove to the bank and there were four lines leading to each drive-up teller. I pulled into a line with two cars in front of me. I guess my lack of sleep caught up to me because I fell asleep. I don’t know how long I was asleep, but when I woke up, there wasn’t a single car in any of the lines. I drove up to the teller as she was counting money and closing up her register. She looked at me while laughing and said, “Did you have a nice sleep?” She was nice enough to cash my check. I was so embarrassed.

- BS

Don’t overreact

As any first responder will tell you, calls involving children are the toughest. I was working for the highway patrol in a rural area and one of my duties was dealing with the press as the public information officer. So when I heard that there was a triple fatality collision on a rural stretch of the interstate we patrolled, I went to the scene. I had about nine years on the job at the time, but was unprepared for the scene that greeted me.

A family of six in a minivan were traveling north when a vehicle in the southbound lanes blew a tire. The driver of the southbound vehicle lost control and crossed the 65-foot dirt median. His vehicle struck the minivan and peeled off its entire left side. The father and two children who were sitting in the left side seats were killed instantly. One of the sons, who was only 11 years old, was decapitated. My son was the same age at the time.

The tragic part is that it was so preventable. As the PIO, I always tried to emphasize at every safety presentation how to properly respond to a blown tire. The absolute worst thing you can do is brake suddenly or make an abrupt steering movement.

- LL

A prince, a princess, or a frog

As a patrolman working for the sheriff's office in a metropolitan area, a deputy runs across all types of individuals. Most citizens never have an encounter with a law enforcement officer while others seem to have encounters with them frequently. We never know if the person is going to be a prince, a princess or a frog.

One dayshift on patrol for the sheriff's office, I encountered a frequent flyer. Sally was a street person. She seemed to be the object of our attention on numerous occasions. Even though Sally was a street person, she tried her best to make herself presentable. Unfortunately, she would put on way too much makeup.

I could usually get Sally to go about her business without having to incarcerate her. However, on one particular day, Sally was unusually feisty. I couldn't get her to go along with the program, and the reporting party was adamant that she be arrested. I arrested Sally, and placed her in the back of my patrol unit. I left her there while I gathered information for my report from witnesses.

When I got back to my patrol unit, I realized I had forgotten to put the seat belt on her. I leaned across Sally to secure the belt when she suddenly lunged forward and planted a big kiss on the top of my bald head. In shock, I shrieked loudly and I'm sure I said some bad words. At the same time, I raised up violently, causing me to strike my head on the interior roof of the vehicle. This knocked me back down into the affection targeting area of Sally's advances. Of course, my outburst garnered the attention of onlookers and my fellow deputies on scene. I must have looked like a kitten trying to scramble away from a slippery situation. The more I scrambled, the less traction I had trying to back out of the passenger door of the vehicle.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally managed to free myself from the confines of the rear passenger area. I felt like I had been in a wrestling match with a Sasquatch, and I was the loser. I'm sure my uniform had a disheveled appearance as I was breathing hard and sweating profusely from the high summer temperature. Of course, I looked around to see if anyone had seen the assault on me, and the subsequent failure of me to gracefully handle the encounter. Much to my dismay, it seemed everyone within a city block had witnessed this.

Since steam was coming out of my ears, I couldn't hear what was being said by the peanut gallery of deputies and onlookers. It must have been hilarious to see because they were still laughing as I drove away.

By the time I arrived at the jail, the blush of embarrassment had finally left my face. That is until I got to the booking counter and someone said out loud, “Did Sally plant a big kiss on the top of your head?” I immediately swiped my hand across the top of my head to see if Sally's lipstick or rouge or whatever she used had left its mark. Sally sheepishly responded, “He's my favorite deputy.”

One of my partners had obviously called prior to my arrival and shared the story with the jail staff. At that point I didn't know if Sally's kiss had turned me into a prince, a princess, or a frog.

- BC

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