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COP TALES: Just sign the ticket

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.


As a young officer working for the highway patrol, I liked working the residential streets. One night, I observed a car approach at a high speed. The vehicle was going 55 mph in a 25 mph zone. I was just about to stop it, when it pulled into a driveway and stopped just short of the garage door. A female who appeared to be about 21 jumped out, ran inside the front door, and closed it. We attracted a lot of attention as I had the red light and siren on a short way before the stop. Local residents were out on the sidewalk.

I went to the door, rang the doorbell and knocked on the door, but she did not answer. I continued to ring the bell. Another officer walked up and asked what happened. After I told him, he pounded on the door and yelled, “If we don’t see your license and registration, we are going to tow your vehicle.” The woman opened the door about a half inch and handed me her license and registration. When I handed her the citation, she started yelling that she was just being harassed and she wasn’t going to sign the ticket because she didn’t do anything wrong. There were even more spectators approaching.

All of a sudden, I could see a very large man in pajamas approaching from the back of the living room. He had to duck to get through the opening of the room. With all the neighbors standing there and this large man approaching, I was concerned about what was going to happen. When he got within six feet from the young woman, he yelled, “Macy, what is going on?"

She replied, “These (expletives) said I was speeding, but I didn’t do anything wrong. They are trying to get me to sign this ticket.” He then yelled, “Macy, just sign the ticket. I need to sleep before I have to go to work.” She signed the ticket, I gave her a copy and we left. I guess we dodged that bullet.

- DH

It was a bumpy ride

It was nearing the end of my graveyard shift when my partner and I decided to pull over a speeding vehicle. The vehicle exited the freeway and began to slow at the bottom of the off-ramp. Just as we were removing our seat belts, the vehicle raced across the surface street and re-entered the freeway. The pursuit was on. After a few miles, the vehicle darted across all the traffic lanes and quickly exited the freeway at an off-ramp. I was in the fast lane and couldn’t get over fast enough.

I locked up the brakes on the patrol car (this was before anti-lock brakes) and backed up to the off-ramp since there wasn’t any traffic. We found the abandoned vehicle blocking the intersection at the top of the ramp. Unfortunately, we never located the driver. The worst part of the entire incident was driving all the way back to the office with four tires with flat spots on them. It was a very bumpy ride.

- LL


My motor officer partner, Val and I, were working in patrol when he told me this story from his days on the Police Drill Team. The Drill Team would ride their motorcycles to other towns to participate in parades. He didn't mention the date or the year, but it must have been in the 1950s. After they rode in a parade in a military town, Val and his partner were touring the area, and Val said, “Let’s go over to the military base and look at the X15 plane." They were in full uniform on their police Harleys.

When they arrived, Val was surprised to notice that no one was working in the guard shack. They just entered and rode around the base. Since it was a Sunday, they really didn’t see anyone around. Val noticed the X15 sitting in the doorway of an open hangar, and both officers rode right up to it. The X15 was top secret in those days, and Val wondered why it was not being guarded. Well, no problem, they just wanted to inspect it. Val was a World War II veteran, served as a gunner on a B17, and flew to Europe on bombing raids.

After looking at the X15 for several minutes, a military police officer rode up on a golf cart, keyed his handheld radio, and said, “I got em.” They were then escorted to the base commander's office, and found the commander to be irate. After chewing them out for several minutes, he threatened them with incarceration, and said, “You will never get out."

Val then replied, “I know my rights and I'm entitled to a phone call. The first call will be to the newspaper, and the second will be to my U.S. congressman. I'm sure they will be very interested to learn that no one was at the guard shack, and the X15 was in plain sight and unguarded."

The base commander's attitude changed immediately as he stated, “Maybe we can work this thing out. How about you guys leave and never come back?” Val and his partner readily agreed and they were allowed to leave. Val never did return to the base.

- BB

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