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.

INTEGRITY

I wanted to be a state trooper since I was 5 years old growing up in Pennsylvania. However, the Marine Corps moved me to the West Coast where I became a Highway Patrolman. Besides watching "Adam-12," "The Rookies" and "CHiPs," my father was my greatest inspiration and hero. He was a Pennsylvania game warden and he always looked sharp in his uniform. He was very dedicated as well.

We hunted all the time at our mountain place. I was 12 years old when I hunted deer for the first time. On the last day of doe season, I was on stand and I saw several deer below me in a gully. I fired one shot and they scattered. I couldn’t believe I missed. I aimed and fired again. They all ran away.

I was very disappointed until I walked down and saw the doe laying there. I got all excited and yelled for my father and brother. The excitement quickly wore off when I looked over and saw a second dead deer. You were only allowed to shoot one deer. At 12 years old, I just started to cry.

My dad, brother and the neighbor from down the road arrived and saw the two deer laying there. I told my dad how I mistakenly shot both of them. My neighbor had a doe permit and did not get a doe yet, so he asked if he could just take the second one and tag it. It all made sense to us.

However, my father said that I broke the law and had to face the consequences. Since it was accidental, the fine was only $25 back then. My father made me pay the fine (actually he and my brother chipped in one third each). He then delivered the second doe to a poor family, filled out a receipt and turned everything into the Game Commission.

I thought it was pretty harsh at the time, but I sure learned a lot from him. He took his integrity very seriously. I still have the receipt from that citation in a frame somewhere in my belongings. I miss my dad every day.

- BS

SINGING THEIR GRATITUDE

While working as an officer for the Highway Patrol, I stopped to assist a disabled van on the freeway shoulder, far from town. It was a cold evening and there were at least a dozen people of all ages sitting in the van while a man and his son were working on the engine. The man explained that they needed a part, but didn't know if anything would be open or if they could fix the van.

I called my beat partner to stand by with the family while I took the two men to the auto parts store. We arrived just before the store closed and the men presented the part to the salesman. By sheer coincidence, a person had been in earlier for a part, and attached to the old, used part was the exact piece the father and son needed. Through an incredible run of good fortune, we got to the store just in time, got the correct part (at no cost), returned and installed the part and the van started with no problems.

The father announced to family that they should thank my partner and me. Approximately 14 occupants, aged from little children to older adults, formed two rows in a semi-circle on the shoulder of the road. The father clapped his hands and they all began to sing for us. It was amazing. They were a family choir that traveled to churches across the United States to perform. It may not have been the best venue, but it was the most appreciative audience.

- TE

MY DAD WAS MY HERO

It was summer 1994, and I was 8 years old. On this particular day, I got to spend the day with my aunt. Mom and Dad had to go to work and I was on summer break from school. I was excited because I got to go to work with her. On the way to her work, I asked if we could drive a certain way so that I could look down my street and see my house, which we did.

On our drive, we noticed there were tons of police cars everywhere. I was having a field day because we used to play our own version of “Slug Bug,” where every time you pointed to a police car, you gained extra points. I was totally going to win. What I didn’t know was that the heavy police presence was the result of a perimeter that was set up to search for the man who shot and killed my hero.

My aunt worked at the airport, so I got to help her clean out the airplanes, watch her type on the computer, and play in the break room. I don’t know how much help I actually was, but I thought I was the coolest kid around. Not long into her work day, she got a call that she needed to go home. I was very inquisitive and asked, “Why do we have to leave?” She seemed so scared. I didn’t understand, but she told me that she must have forgotten to do the dishes. “I hope you don’t get in trouble.” I said as we drove to my grandma’s house.

When we got to the door, my mom answered. I was so excited to see her because she was supposed to be at work. I then realized she had been crying. I asked her why she was home and if she had been fired. She took me upstairs and we both sat on the floor. She then told me that my dad had been hurt. I asked if he was OK. I could then tell by the tears in my mom’s eyes that he was not. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation.

The next few weeks felt like a bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from. I remember everyone taking turns trying to keep me occupied with fun activities, but things just weren’t so fun anymore. I also remember many officers coming by and checking on us. Those officers still hold a special place in my heart. They made me feel safe and loved. They also made sure I knew how great my dad really was, and they still do. He was a true hero.

I am now 33 years old, the same age my dad was when he lost his life. That’s a new perspective for me. I miss him every day. There are so many things I wish I could talk to him about. I think about how much he taught me in only eight short years. I just imagine what he could’ve taught me if he was still here. I know my dad will always be with me. My hero, I promise to stay strong, love hard, laugh a lot, and keep your memories alive forever. I miss you, Daddy.

- MM

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 bmsmith778@gmail.com.

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