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.

Better to give than to receive

At every rank I worked for the highway patrol, I always looked forward to receiving large boxes of toys and trinkets that had the name of our department printed on them. We used them as recruiting tools to hand out to the public. There were small baseballs, basketballs, footballs, key chains, Frisbees, T-shirts, etc.

I went into all types of neighborhoods and handed them out to all the children. They always got so excited because many of them didn’t have many toys. I used to get out of my patrol car and play with them. When other neighborhood children would see me playing, they would join in. Before long, I would have a large group of kids and some parents joking around together.

There were also many times when I would see children from different diverse groups standing around not doing anything. I would stop and talk to them. Many of those times, I would tell them that I would return. I then went and bought them toys or sporting equipment. We would then have a catch, play wiffle ball or shoot hoops.

As mentioned in an earlier article, I have given bicycles as well, and my highway patrol son bought a new bike for a child whose bike was just stolen. I cannot tell you how rewarding it is to see the looks on the children’s faces when they are happy and having fun. I know that 99.9 percent of all officers and deputies who are reading this are thinking, “I have done those same things hundreds of times.” Remember that the greatest majority of us took this job because we wanted to help people.

- BS

I give up

Once upon a time while working for the highway patrol, dispatch broadcast a report of a drive-by shooting. The shooter peppered a residence with a .30 caliber carbine, barely missing a woman holding a baby. In those days, the ambulance service monitored our frequency, and many times they showed up at incidents before they were called. Of course, the “be on the Lookout” call caught their attention. It didn’t take long for them to spot the suspect vehicle trying to hide in the area. They immediately notified us.

I showed up as the felony stop was being conducted on the interstate. I moved forward to a position behind a big bush parallel to the driver's door. The driver couldn't see me since I was wearing my dark jacket at night. As the driver appeared to get ready to run away, I racked a round into the shotgun. The "deer caught in the headlights" look on his face was priceless as he was shocked to see me standing there. He wisely chose to submit peacefully to the arrest. One of those ambulance attendants eventually joined the highway patrol.

- BN

Can you assist me with this?

After being a highway patrol officer for a few years, I decided to try riding motors for a change. That was in the 1960s and our motors were Harley Davidson "hogs," which were pretty much the standard police motorcycle in those days. They did not have electric starters; you had to kick start them.

After going through the advanced motor rider's training course at the academy, I was assigned my own motor and rode with a training officer for about a month. I thought I had become a real state trooper and sat tall in the saddle as I patrolled my beat. I was not a large man and only weighed about 145 pounds, which included all my gear.

Just a few days after going out on my own, I was just leaving a coffee shop when the waitress came to the door and motioned for me to come back inside. She said that the dispatcher had called and wanted to speak to me. When I answered the phone, the dispatcher was giggling and told me that she had to tell me something and she did not want to put it out over the air. She had just received a call from her husband regarding him seeing someone who looked just like me riding a CHP motorcycle. She informed him that it was me and that I was one of the new motor officers. His reply, which she thought was so hilarious, was "Who starts it for him?"

- RS

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

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(1) comment


No one cares about crooked cops. F-off

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