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.

I was playing ice hockey one afternoon with a bunch of guys and when we returned to the locker room, we noticed that someone stole about five of our cell phones and other items. We reported it to the police and they were not able to locate the suspect. I continued to follow up. Without discussing any of the details, I located the location of my phone about 9:30 p.m. I called the police detectives, but they could not respond. I called a detective from my own agency and he said he would meet me there. I had my unmarked patrol car at home and so I headed in that direction to see if I could at least see the neighborhood. As I approached the location, a bunch of guys were exiting a van. I stopped and ordered them to stand still just as my detective pulled up. I ran the license plate of the van and it returned as a stolen vehicle. There were two expensive bicycles in the back, methamphetamine, syringes and our five cell phones. A few city police cars arrived and took over the investigation since the original theft occurred in their city.

One of the officers called me over to the main suspect and told me the guy wanted to talk to me. I asked him what he wanted. He had tattoos all up his neck and some on his face. He asked me if I remembered him. He told me he played hockey with me years ago and he used to coach his son’s team. I did not remember him. He told me he was a drug addict, he was separated and his wife would not let him see his son. He said he went to the ice rink to reminisce, but then decided to see if he could steal anything to buy drugs. He told me how sorry he was and asked if I forgave him.

I told him he wasn’t sorry he stole the items; he was just sorry he got caught. He told me he was desperate and he was truly sorry. I started to walk away when he repeated, “Do you forgive me? I truly am sorry.” I turned around and told him that I did not forgive him. I then told him if he wanted me to forgive him, he had to clean up his act, get off drugs and straighten up his life. I then walked away.

Approximately two years later, I was at an AHL hockey game at our main arena when a guy with a little boy approached me and called my name. I could see “faded” tattoos on his neck and face.

He asked me if I remembered him. Since I did some work at drug treatment center in the past, I asked if he was from that place.

He said, “No Sir. I am the one who stole your cell phone. I always remembered what you said about not forgiving me unless I straightened out my life, so I got off drugs, took classes, I am having my tattoos removed, I got a job, I’m working things out with my wife, and she allows me to take my son places. I came to a couple games figuring I would eventually see you here.”

I was totally shocked. He looked at me and said, “Do you forgive me now?” I instinctively just reached out, hugged him and said, “Absolutely. I am very proud of you.”

We talked a little longer and I can tell you we both left that meeting with tears in our eyes. It was one of the highlights of my career.


Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean …

When my partner and I were working narcotics, we got a call from the Sheriff’s Department to assist in a meth lab surveillance at a motel. We, along with detectives from another city police department, followed these two guys from the motel through several cities for hours.

The two guys checked into a hotel, then one walked over to a diner to get something to eat. The passenger in the car who had been snorting lines all the way down there as we followed them, just took off running. We had to split up to follow him. He ran about a mile before he eventually went into a bar.

He stayed in there for about 20 minutes, then came out with another guy. They got into a mini-pickup truck and drove for about a mile before they stopped and got into a fist fight. The driver took off and left him there. The same guy we had been following then walked over to a gourmet restaurant and laid down on a bench in the entryway.

We called the local police and they arrested the guy for being under the influence of drugs. One of the officers came over laughing and told us the guy said he had to stop doing drugs because he was getting too paranoid. He said he just felt like he was being followed.


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

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.