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COP TALES: I can't handle the cold anymore

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.

I can’t handle the cold anymore

Ever since I was 5 years old, I always wanted to be a Pennsylvania state trooper. However, I ended up in California with the U.S. Marine Corps. It didn’t take me long to realize that working for the highway patrol in California would be a lot warmer than working in Pennsylvania.

Years later, when I was a captain with the highway patrol, a Pennsylvania state trooper was killed in the line of duty. My department asked for a volunteer to fly there and attend the funeral to represent our department. Since I was born and raised there, I felt even more obligated to attend. The funeral was in the middle of the winter. I flew out there the day before and when I woke up the next day, I had a fever. I could barely get out of bed, but I didn’t want to miss his services. A state trooper picked me up and drove me there. The snow started to fall pretty heavily.

The services were at the cemetery so they had a large, clear plastic tent covering the family, friends and the honor guard, but all of the law enforcement officers stood outside in formation. I normally wouldn’t mind because I was there to honor the trooper and his family at any cost, but it didn’t take long before I had four inches of snow on my campaign cover.

Due to the cold and my fever, I was shivering so much that I was afraid everyone could see me shaking. I eventually presented the wife with our state flag, and everyone invited me to the reception. I felt bad that I could not attend the reception, but I could barely move due to my sickness. I flew back the next morning in the same condition. I would have done the same thing at any time for any of my fellow officers, but it did convince me that I made the right decision to work in a warmer climate.

- BS

I gave him my 6 cents worth

I was working the night shift for the highway patrol with my partner in the big city when we observed a vehicle weaving back and forth in front of us. We activated the red lights and the vehicle continued. The vehicle turned sharply to the left and made a left turn without using the left turn lane, then slowly pulled over to the right curb. The driver bent forward and then sat back up while he watched his mirrors.

I told my partner that the driver had a gun. My partner said that I was just paranoid. I told him that I would stay back and put the spotlight in his mirrors while he went up on the passenger side of the car. I told him to use the telephone pole as cover to see what the driver was doing. My partner nonchalantly walked up on the right side by the telephone pole.

Before I knew it, he pointed his gun at the suspect and yelled for him to “Drop the gun.” I saw the suspect’s hands go up in the air. I made my approach and took custody of the suspect. After we booked the suspect, my partner told me there was no way I had a sixth sense about guns. He couldn’t believe that I knew the suspect had a gun.

We drove out of the parking lot of the jail and within two blocks, we encountered a minor traffic accident with three men standing outside of their vehicles arguing about who was at fault for the accident. My partner asked for their license and registration cards. I observed a man in a suit start to reach in his upper, left inside coat. He then stopped and reached in his right rear pants pocket and pulled out his wallet.

I said to my partner, “Hey, this one is like the last one.” I told him to tell the man in the suit to put his hands up. My partner then asked him if he had a gun. The man told him he did have a gun. He was arrested and taken to jail. As we left the jail the second time, my partner could not believe that not only did my sixth sense tell me about one gun, but a second one as well. I guess I gave him my 6 cents worth on the way back to the office.

- DH

My first month on the job

I was on the job for one month with my field training officer as a rookie deputy sheriff when we got a call of an explosion in the hills above a coastal town. When we arrived on scene, my FTO and I saw something we never expected. It looked like a garbage truck exploded all over the landscape. We exited our vehicle as we were the first ones on scene. I saw something close by the road and it had an airlines’ logo on it.

Since we did not have good radio coverage where we were, my FTO told me to drive up the road where the coverage was better. I told dispatch it looked like we had a plane crash and we needed assistance and medical aid. For the next two weeks, I was assigned to that location as the FBI, NTSB and other agencies investigated and went through all the evidence.

The investigation and the black boxes revealed the plane, which was flying at 22,000 feet, went into a nosedive. It turned out that a disgruntled employee of the airline shot both the pilot and co-pilot. The plane broke the sound barrier only 600 feet above the ground and it disintegrated all over the 2-acre site. It is something I will never forget as it was definitely a training call for the books.

- KS

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