Editor's Note: Cop Tales are true stories as told by law enforcement officers from all over the country. The stories are told in the first person.

One year on Christmas Day, I was a sergeant assigned to an adjoining Highway Patrol office from where I lived and I had a take home patrol vehicle. As I got in my car to go to work in the afternoon (since I usually always worked on the holidays), dispatch advised of a pursuit of a vehicle from another county north of us. Apparently, their city police officers were in pursuit of a mentally disturbed subject and wanted the Highway Patrol to take over for them.

The Highway Patrol units where I lived took over the pursuit. There were no sergeants working for their office, but one sergeant stopped at the office to pick something up when he heard about the incident. I asked him over the radio if he wanted me to take over supervision of the pursuit. He agreed.

We continued to pursue the vehicle. A spike strip was set up, and as the suspect vehicle approached the spike strip, he slowed down, drove around it, flipped the officer off with his middle finger and took off again.

Later down the freeway, he came to a stop. I was in the middle of the formation. The other officers got out of their vehicles and since I was the third car, I would have been last to get out, but the driver floored it again, which allowed me to keep going and I became the primary unit.

He eventually started slowing, but would not stop. I continuously talked to him over the loudspeaker (PA system) and tried to talk him into stopping. He finally stopped. I then gave him all the commands to get him safely out of the vehicle. He got out, slowly started to approach me, stopped, turned around to look at his truck, then rapidly reached into the cab of his pick-up truck with his feet still on the ground. I figured he was reaching for a gun.

I yelled for him to stop and come out slowly. He abruptly came out with something black in his hands. I was squeezing the trigger. He pointed it at me, and all of a sudden, I saw it was his wallet. I couldn't believe none of us fired.

I told him to drop it and take two steps forward. He did as I said, then he turned around and looked back at his truck again. I tried to keep his attention on me, but he lunged into the truck again and reached across the seat.

I yelled for him to stop. I told him to come out slowly and make sure his hands were empty. I told him we would shoot him if we saw anything in his hands.

He started to come out slowly, but I had a bad feeling. I yelled again for him to stop. I repeated we would shoot. He hesitated, and I said, "Think about it."

He then came out with his hands empty. We repeated the whole scenario again and he turned towards the truck again.

I finally thought, "Forget this" and I ran up, tackled him and put him in handcuffs. When I looked in the cab of the truck, there was a shotgun and rifle laying on the front seat. Each time he had contemplated pulling them on us.

Thank God he listened to my commands. We later found out the suspect was actually a nice guy if he stayed on his medications. Everyone told me I did a great job and I acted cool at the scene, but when I left, I had to pull over and take a big sigh of relief.


Taking it easy on the coast

It was my third month as a sergeant and I was supervising three two-man graveyard units on the California coast. I responded to assist one of the units with a DUI collision on Pacific Coast Highway.

One of my other units was booking a DUI at the jail, and the third unit was responding to a minor collision. While responding to that collision, the unit tried to initiate a traffic stop for another vehicle that was speeding on U.S. 101. The vehicle failed to stop and a pursuit was initiated.

When I heard them broadcast the pursuit, I left the DUI collision and began my response. While I was en route, the officers in pursuit advised that the occupants they were chasing started to shoot at them.

The passenger in the vehicle they were chasing was standing up through the sunroof and firing at them. I was still at least 15 miles away. The pursuit left the freeway and continued on a city street where a city police sergeant joined in.

The pursuit continued for a short distance until the fleeing driver was unable to make a 90 degree turn where the road ended. Both occupants were arrested.

However, it did not end there. The other graveyard unit, which had been at the jail, was responding to the pursuit when they were involved in a rollover collision about a quarter mile from the pursuit's termination point.

The good news was that none of the bullets struck our pursuing officers or their patrol car, and no officers were injured in the roll-over crash, but needless to say, I did NOT get off work on time that morning.


Read at your own risk… you have been warned!!!

I received this next story and even though I thought it was very funny and entertaining, I was not going to print it, but so many people who read it, told me I owed it to the readers, so here it goes…

One evening while on patrol, I was assigned as the only unit available in a particular zone in the county. The calls continued to come in one after another.

I called the dispatch center a couple of times after clearing each call to advise I needed to go to the bathroom right away. While en route to a public toilet, I was dispatched to a man breaking into a residence through a window on my beat.

I really had to get to the bathroom, but I was worried about the safety of any possible occupants. Even though the gun belt and vest caused a lot of pressure on my stomach, especially with having gall bladder surgery a few months prior, I proceeded to the residence.

As I approached the house with my lights out, I could see a man climbing through a window. My training told me I had to call for back-up to surround the house and a K-9 unit, but the gurgling in my stomach told me I didn’t have time for doing it the right way.

I walked up to the window and could see the burglar in the house going through the victim’s property. Officer safety is very important but messing your pants on a call could have been devastating to my reputation and career.

I stealthily climbed through the window without being heard and I single-handedly arrested the bad guy in the residence.

I patted him down after handcuffing him and placed him in my patrol car. I then returned to the residence and saw this really clean and cozy bathroom. No one was home, so, yes, I went to the bathroom. I no sooner flushed the toilet when I heard the owner arrive.

I told the owner I arrested the burglar and she conducted a walk-through of her residence.

When she started to walk by the bathroom, she yelled out, “The burglar pooped in my bathroom. What kind of sick burglar is he?”

I just shook my head in disgust and replied, “The nerve.” I took him to the jail and was thankful everything worked out.


Do you want me to check your oil, too?

One night, my partner and I were working the graveyard shift and we had to catch up on reports so we parked on the side of a gas station to work on them. I looked up to see a car pull up to the pumps very slowly. The vehicle struck the front pole by the pump, then backed up into the rear pump, then pulled forward again.

I told my partner to keep working on his reports and I would check the guy out. It was cold outside so I was wearing my blue coat over my uniform (which had a badge and both patches on it).

I walked up to the driver’s side and banged on the window. The driver turned, looked and just stared at me. I could tell he was under the influence. I banged on the window again and motioned for him to put the window down.

He finally rolled the window down, looked at me again, reached in his shirt pocket, pulled out a couple of dollars, straightened them out, handed them to me and said, “I’ll take regular.”

I then said, “Do I look like a gas station attendant to you?” When I said that, the passenger looked over at me and said, “Oh Shh…” Let’s just say that was one of my easier DUI arrests.


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 Brian at bmsmith778@gmail.com

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