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COP TALES: Strike three — and we gave her chances!

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.

Strike three

While working the graveyard shift for the highway patrol, my partner and I had just finished handling a late crash and were headed back to the office to end our shift. On our way, we noticed a vehicle traveling north on a side street, approaching a stop sign. The vehicle ran the stop sign and began speeding (strike one).

We were already late to get back to the office and figured it was just someone late for work. We caught up with the speeding vehicle and positioned ourselves in the adjacent traffic lane to give the driver a white door verbal (basically pulling alongside someone to slow them down) and obtained a pace of the other vehicle. While alongside the vehicle, we paced it at approximately 60-65 mph in the posted 45 mph zone. The female driver glanced over, ignored the patrol vehicle, and continued speeding (strike two).

Finally, the vehicle moved into the left turn lane and stopped for the red traffic light. Slightly irritated, we pulled up next to the vehicle and motioned for the driver to roll down her window. We politely advised the driver that she was driving way too fast and needed to slow down. She immediately began to yell that we were also driving too fast and that she was late for work (strike three). Once the traffic light cycled to green, we activated our emergency lights and cited the driver for speeding. She insisted she was going to fight the citation in court. We had given her so many chances and even gave her a warning on the stop sign.

— NG

A new air freshener

I was working the afternoon shift for the highway patrol on a very hot day. On one particular day, I was assigned to give a ride along to another officer who had just transferred in. Neither of us had the seniority to have an assigned patrol car and the only one available at the time belonged to a senior officer who kept his car in pristine condition. That senior officer would arrive an hour before shift every day to give her a good cleaning.

My ride along officer and I were assigned to the east side of town and we made an enforcement stop. The violator did not possess a driver's license and we did the routine thing of going through dispatch for a driver's license status and warrant check. The license returned as suspended and he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. As I went to arrest him, he started to run away. We went in foot pursuit of the suspect. I was right on his tail as he kept looking behind him. All of a sudden, he stopped and said, “I give, I give.” However, when I went to handcuff him, he started to fight. I took him to the ground and landed on top of him. As I did that, I heard a loud “UGH” as he defecated in his pants. I applied the handcuffs and we headed for the patrol car.

As we were walking, I was overcome with the awful odor. I placed the violator in the patrol vehicle and headed to the county jail. The odor was so bad that my partner and I had to drive the entire way with our faces out the windows. We immediately took the patrol vehicle back to the office and commandeered a different car. Of course, I couldn’t resist having a little fun with the senior officer. I locked up the car with the windows rolled up. I wrote the car up stating it needed to be cleaned, but I did not put a tag on the keyboard to warn anyone who might want to take the car.

The next morning, the senior officer, in his normal routine, showed up early to dust off his car. When he opened the car door, he was overcome with a worse odor than what I had endured. To say he was angry would be an understatement. He eventually got over it and started speaking to me again. Thankfully, we had a great crew that took care of our cars and within a day, it was back in service smelling like a new car.

— KF

Thanks airship crew

Not long after becoming a member of the helicopter unit for the highway patrol, my partner and I received a call of an injured child in the remote wilderness area of the mountains at the 11,000-foot elevation. My pilot was also my husband. I was the flight officer paramedic that day. My husband had been to that area before and knew it well. There was only one place to safely land at the lake and fortunately their campsite was nearby. A father and his two boys, ages 8 and 11, were hiking over rocks to go fishing when the 8 year old fell head first into a granite boulder. He had a large laceration to his forehead with a lot of swelling. We were dealing with daylight issues as the call came late in the day.

As we landed, my husband/pilot told me that I had 10 minutes to evaluate, treat and package the child or we were going to end up spending the night on the mountain with him. The boy had obvious signs of a serious head injury. He had a slightly altered mental status and had vomited several times. The dad had to make a tough call to leave both boys at the campsite and run down the trail to get help.

Fortunately, he came across a backcountry wilderness ranger on the trail who was able to radio for our assistance. We immediately got the boy transported down to the local trauma center for treatment. The emergency room doctor told us that it was a good thing we got him out that night because he had suffered an open skull and basal skull fracture. Had we not been able to get him out that night, he would not have survived.

— AB

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