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.

'Real Stories of the Highway Patrol'

When I was a sergeant with the Highway Patrol, I was working in a major city when the crew of the TV show "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol" used to ride with our officers on certain weekends. One night on the graveyard shift, the crew asked if they could ride along with me. I agreed.

As soon as we started, I observed a vehicle drive right through an intersection without stopping for the posted stop sign. I made a stop and due to the vehicle’s location, I made a driver’s side approach. As I walked up, I looked in the vehicle and could see a little bit of a black object between the seats that looked like it may have been a handgun. The cameras were rolling and I didn’t want to be wrong on TV (an ego issue), but due to officer safety, I drew my weapon and told the two occupants to get their hands up.

The driver started complaining and asked what I was doing. I asked him if there was a gun between the seats. He just said, “What?” I asked again. He then said, “Yeah.” I told them both to keep their hands up and not to move. I called for back-up.

As other Highway Patrol units responded, a two-man unit from a major city police department arrived and assisted in the arrests. The driver was also arrested for DUI. The episode appeared on television and I still try to charge money for my autographs. -BS

What is he doing at the over-crossing?

In April 1984, I was working the evening shift for the Highway Patrol, with my partner who I will call “Shorty,” and had just finished booking a drunken driver at the sheriff's station. We traveled back to look for another DUI.

As we approached the freeway interchange, we both observed a vehicle stopped on the transition road, blocking the slow lane. As we entered the transition road, we observed an outline of someone walking from the passenger side of the vehicle to the driver’s door, enter the vehicle and start driving northbound. As we followed, I stated the driver was probably going to the bathroom, and Shorty stated, “He was probably dumping a body.”

We followed the vehicle northbound, and observed typical signs of a driver who might be under the influence, so we initiated a traffic stop. As we exited the vehicle, the driver exited and started walking toward the patrol vehicle. We both observed blood on the male driver’s clothing and hands, and he was rambling about getting his girlfriend to a hospital. I immediately handcuffed the driver, and placed him in the patrol unit. Shorty approached the vehicle, opened the passenger side door, and discovered a female stuffed down on the right front floorboard, with her head facing Shorty.

We immediately removed her from the vehicle, and found a noose had been tied around her neck with a rope. We removed the rope, and began CPR, which we continued until paramedics arrived. Unfortunately, she was not able to be revived. Homicide investigators later determined that the male and female had gotten into a domestic fight at their home a short distance away from the location where we first observed him, and he had choked her to death. The coroner advised that due to her injuries, if we did not interrupt him and he had been able to complete tying her off on the overpass, it probably would have been ruled a suicide.

While booking the male driver at the substation, he looked at my name plate, and asked if I had a brother named George. I advised that I did, and he informed me that he had been in the same youth group as two of my brothers.

Approximately four years later, I was working as the division training coordinator. I received a phone call from a woman who identified herself as the sister of the female victim, and wanted to talk with me. I agreed to meet her at a restaurant, with another officer, and she stated that as part of her closure in the loss of her sister, she wanted to thank me for our efforts that evening. She then presented me with a plaque. That plaque is still in my home office. The male suspect only served three and a half years for involuntary manslaughter. -TP

Getting used to a shift change

I was working a patrol assignment and was assigned to work four nights on the 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift. The new schedule came out and I was then assigned three of the late-night shifts and one swing shift that started at 6 p.m. On my first night starting at 6 p.m., I was driving down the main thoroughfare and glanced into a business. I then noticed a person inside the business.

I quickly turned the corner and parked at the rear of the store. I told the dispatcher that I was going to investigate a possible burglary in progress at the store. I carefully approached the front of the store and looked in the windows. I noticed several people in the store.

They looked like they were conducting normal business. I then realized that the store, which closed at 9 p.m., was open for business. I had never driven by during business hours before. I just told dispatch and responding deputies they could cancel since I handled the situation. -DS

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

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.