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 didn’t even know
When I was an assistant chief with the highway patrol, my wife and I were on our way to a city that was about two hours away. We didn’t want to be late to see my son as the lead role in a play. As I went south on the freeway, I saw a big cloud of dirt ahead and traffic coming to a stop. I passed the traffic on the right shoulder to see what had happened. I observed an SUV on its side.
I climbed up on it to look inside and I saw a woman lying on the bottom. She was moaning in pain, but I couldn’t get to her. I called for the highway patrol, the fire department and an ambulance. Since we were on the south side of town, it took a long time for the first responders to get there.
I continuously talked to her and told her she would be alright. Even though the highway patrol and fire department had arrived, I still did not want to leave her. We would be late for the play, but I wanted to make sure she got into the ambulance safely. Once she was transported, we left for the play.
The next morning, I received a call from a very close friend. He told me his wife was in a horrible accident and she was in the intensive care unit. When I asked him what had happened, he described the accident I had come across.
I went to the hospital to meet with him, but she passed away before I could get there. Although I was devastated by the loss of such a close friend, I was happy to tell him that I was with her during those tragic moments. She was always such a sweet person who always cared for and went to great lengths to help whomever she could. We miss her every day.
It’s nice to see you again
I was working in a very remote area for the highway patrol when I stopped a boy on a motorcycle for speeding. I learned that he was only 15 years old and unlicensed. I remembered when I was stopped by the highway patrol when I was 13 for driving without a license. Receiving that ticket, telling my parents, going to court and dealing with all those issues really taught me a lesson.
I issued him a citation and explained to him all the dangers of unsafe driving and driving without a license. I always tried to make each stop with juveniles a learning experience for them. We had a nice chat and we went on our way.
A few months later, I observed a vehicle at an excessive speed drive right through a red light. I finally got them to stop in a very desolate area in the country. When I approached the vehicle, I noticed four men who had been drinking too much alcohol. I advised the driver to step out of the car and I conducted field sobriety tests.
As I proceeded to arrest him, he began to fight me. As I was fighting to get his handcuffs on, the other passengers jumped out of the car to help him. I didn’t even have a chance to call for a back-up unit.
I managed to get the driver in handcuffs, before I turned to fight with the other three. All of a sudden, I was thrilled to hear a siren approaching. A city police officer jumped out of his car and the two of us were able to arrest the other three people.
I asked him how he knew I needed assistance. He said that a citizen called for help. We were stopped in front of the only house in the area, so I went to ascertain if they called for assistance. When I approached, that same 15-year-old boy I spoke to months earlier told me he saw the entire event and he called the police right away so someone would help me. He said he recognized me right away and wanted to make sure nothing happened to me. I thanked him and had a letter from my captain praising him for his actions sent to his house.
Every time I made an enforcement stop, I always tried to impart learning points and not just write a ticket. I am sure the boy would have called in for assistance anyway, but it was nice to have that positive connection.
Due to one ride-along
One day while I was working as a vehicle theft investigator for the highway patrol, the captain called me into his office. He told me he wanted me to take a legislative analyst from the state’s capital out on a ride-along. He told me I could take him anywhere as long as I brought him back alive. I took two other officers with me and a computer that one of the officers was using (we didn’t have computers in the cars back then).
At one point, we saw a vehicle with a broken side window so I told the officer to run it with his computer. The vehicle came back stolen. We made a stop and it turned out the vehicle was released to the owner, but it wasn’t taken out of the system, so we took care of the proper paperwork and released him.
We returned to patrol and observed a Buick run a red light in front of us. My partner ran the plate and it came back clear. We made a stop and I checked the vehicle identification number. It came back to a Buick Regal, but we had a Buick Century stopped. We got the two people out of the car and I flicked the VIN plate with my finger and it flew across to the passenger side of the car. The other officers took the suspects into custody and requested another car for transport. I checked another location for a secondary number and ran it through the computer and it came back stolen.
Upon returning to the highway patrol office with the analyst, I gassed up and parked the car. The captain called me into his office and said, “Do you know what you just did?” I was afraid to ask. He then told me that the analyst just got off the phone with the capital and the highway patrol was going to get computers for all the cars. Not bad for one ride-along.