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 a commander of a Highway Patrol office and we had to respond to road closures and evacuations when fires burned out of control.

In one such case, I was assisting with evacuations when I could see the fire was gaining progress behind me.

I drove up a back road to make sure no one was stranded, and I came across a man and woman at their ranch. They were trying to catch their dog who kept running away from them. The fire was gaining on us. I told them to hurry up and get in my car so I could take them to safety. They told me they would not leave without their dog. I was getting really worried about the fire catching up to us and the smoke was making it difficult to see.

Knowing there was no way they were going to leave their dog, I jumped out and started trying to catch the dog as well. As I looked up, I could see the flames reached far into the sky and were burning the trees and everything around us.

I remember thinking to myself, “I have been in shootings, fights, foot pursuits, etc., and yet I am going to die in a fire?”

I really thought we were going to die. I knew I couldn’t leave them behind, and they couldn’t leave their dog behind.

My prayers were answered because they finally caught the dog and tossed him in my car. We all jumped in and I went to take off.

However, when I looked up, we were completely surrounded by flames and thick smoke. I had no idea how to get out of there.

I then remembered the direction I was pointed at, and just drove right through the flames for a couple of minutes. We made it to the other side, but I can tell you I did not stop for quite a while.

- BS

Time to retire

Towards the end of my illustrious career when I was no longer a spring chicken, I was dispatched to a call of suspicious persons inside a condo.

Upon arrival, a backup unit and I contacted three young men in the condo. To make a long story short, they lied every time they opened their mouths. They said they belonged to the condo, however, they were unable to produce ID or any proof that they belonged.

We spoke to several neighbors and finally the complex manager who told us the Condo in question had been vacant for a couple months.

After 15-20 minutes of listening to their untruths, I decided it was time to go for a ride. We arrested all three and handcuffed them behind their back per policy.

The primary bad guy was 20 years old, 6 feet and weighed 140 pounds. He was wearing sweatpants that were falling off his skinny frame. He asked me several times to tie the draw string for him, but I told him to just hold them up.

As I was walking him to my car, he jerked away and broke my grip. He took off running and as soon as he did (don’t forget the handcuffs), his sweatpants fell to his ankles.

I let out a little laugh and thought to myself, “It will be a cinch to catch this guy with his pants around his ankles.”

Boy, was I wrong. I couldn’t catch this guy and he was running with handcuffs on and pants hanging around his ankles.

Luckily, I was working with a couple of younger officers who could surely catch him. I was wrong again, although it did make me feel better that they couldn’t catch him either.

As luck would have it, one of my backup officers was able to get close enough to Tase the bad guy right in the middle of a dead run. It wasn’t too long after that that I decided to retire and leave the police work to the younger officers.

- GP

The sergeant who stole Christmas

It was just before Christmas and I was working as the patrol watch commander when one of my officers got a call of a domestic violence in progress. I happened to be right around the corner from the address and got there very quickly.

As I was pulling up, I see this young woman run out of the front door, only to be grabbed by the hair and drug back inside.

I ran up to the door and it was one of those old homes that had little panes of glass on the door from top to bottom. I took out my flashlight and busted out a couple of panes, reached inside and unlocked the door.

When I did that, the guy ran down a hallway. The Christmas tree was right next to the door and I brushed against it as I chased after him.

I felt something pull on my handgun, so I immediately spun around. I then realized that the string of Christmas lights snagged my gun and I had pulled the whole tree over. I slid the wire off and continued my chase into the kitchen as I stepped on wrapped gifts on the floor.

The suspect grabbed a kitchen knife and was standing there in a defensive posture. I pulled my gun and mace at the same time. I sprayed him while holding him at gunpoint. As he dropped the knife to cover his eyes, I took him into custody without further incident.

While walking him back through the house to my patrol vehicle, the family (the young woman, her mother, and her kids) were thanking me profusely for arresting him.

Since I maced him, I had to get hospital clearance to take him to county. While at the hospital, the guy who had been assigned the call pointed to my holster and laughed. I had a chocolate Christmas ornament from the tree wedged between my holster and belt.

He said that I was the sergeant who stole Christmas.

- GM

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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