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.

Thank God for our training

In 1984, I had just received my certification to be an EMT-2 with a volunteer fire department in Alaska. In becoming an EMT-2, I could start IVs, give certain drugs and intubate victims, should the need arise. I was at the post office one afternoon when my pager went off for an emergency call. I immediately bolted from the post office and made a beeline for the fire station around the corner. An EMT-I fired up the ambulance and handed me a note as I slid into the passenger seat.

When we arrived at the residence, a neighbor was holding a lifeless baby. He said he found Rory, 18 months old, pinned under a motorcycle. How long Rory had been there was anyone’s guess. With children under the age of 3, it was our department’s policy to grab and go. We couldn’t wait for the family. I grabbed the baby from the neighbor and hopped into the back of the ambulance. We sped off, spewing gravel behind us.

Ten minutes later, Rory had an IV, was intubated, and was on a heart monitor and oxygen. His color was pinking up, but his heart rate was erratic. As I made notes in Rory’s chart, the heart monitor flat-lined. His heart had stopped. I immediately flew into action. I couldn’t shock the heart because only EMT-3s could administer that kind of treatment, so I started CPR. I yelled at the EMT-1 through the porthole between the cab and the rig, “Call the hospital. CPR is in progress.” I alternated between chest compressions and rescue breathing the rest of the way. As we were a block from the hospital, the monitor came back to life with the most joyous sound, “Beep-beep-beep-beep.” Rory’s heart was beating at 160 beats per minute.

I called the hospital the following day to check on Rory. His mother told me he was off the respirator and eating a Popsicle. She said he suffered no permanent damage. The news is full of tragedies every day, but because of the quick response of the neighbor, the EMT-1 and myself, Rory’s life was spared that day. Giving CPR in the back of a swaying ambulance for 40 miles will forever be imprinted in my memory, but it sure was worth it.

- VJ

Will you buy me a new Twinkie?

It was a warm night and my partner and I were working in the southeast area around the fairgrounds when we heard over the scanner that a silent robbery in progress alarm had just gone off at a liquor store north of our location. We immediately responded. My partner pulled up to the curb, south of the liquor store, and I ran to the corner of the building with the shotgun. Next door to the liquor store was a pool hall with several people just standing around outside smoking and drinking out of their brown paper bags. They seemed rather relaxed even when they saw me with the shotgun. I told them to leave, but of course they just stood there like stumps, that is until I racked a round into the chamber and lowered the barrel northbound. They scattered like quail.

I eased my head around the corner of the building and looked north toward the liquor store. My partner had exited the patrol car and crouched down behind the parked cars in front of the store. He had his service revolver out and as he crouched down behind the car near the door, he signaled to me that two suspects were at the counter. I stepped out and moved to the south of the window of the liquor store. My partner signaled that one was coming out. I did a quick look and observed a young man walking toward the door. The other man was still standing at the counter. About that time, a police officer arrived with his shotgun in hand.

My partner slipped back out of sight just as the young man exited the liquor store with two objects in his hands. When he stepped onto the sidewalk, he looked north and I leveled the shotgun at him and quietly told him to freeze. When he turned and looked at me, his eyes got as big as sewer lids. My partner told him to walk forward and lay across the hood of the car. When my partner placed the barrel of his .357 magnum against the suspect, he squeezed his right and left hands at the same time. In his right hand was a small carton of milk, which shot up about two feet into the air and spilled all over the place. His left hand held a Twinkie, which dripped out, between his fingers. He kept repeating, “Please, don't shoot me.” My partner handcuffed him and put him in the patrol car as the suspect never said another word.

Looking for cover and not seeing anything adequate to hide behind, I took a quick look in the store and the second suspect was still at the counter. I couldn't see the second suspect's right hand. I didn't know what kind of weapon he had. With no place secure enough to hide, I said, "Let’s just John Wayne it."

We kicked the front door open and yelled, "Freeze! Everyone put your hands on your heads." You would think when two police officers enter a place of business with shotguns leveled and yelled, “Put your hands on your head” that everyone would comply. However, they just stood there looking at us. Two young children about 5 and 6 years old came out of the back room with their hands in the air. The security guard walked toward us and asked what was going on. I told the clerk that the alarm went off indicating a robbery in progress and she responded, "I ain't being robbed." Finally, I told the kids to put their hands down. They seemed to be the only ones who knew how to respond to our demands.

After a few seconds, the clerk checked the register and told us that she had accidentally tripped the alarm. The police officer and I let out a sigh and walked to the door. I looked outside and all I could see were flashing lights from police cars that seemed to be 10 deep and three lanes across. There were officers hiding behind palm trees and cars and the air unit was circling the area.

I looked over at my partner and told him to release the guy from our custody. My partner told him he was sorry about the incident, and the guy said he didn’t mind. He just said "thank you" and was last seen walking away as he wiped his hands on his shirt mumbling to himself. As my partner and I walked back to our patrol car, we could still see police cars trying to untangle themselves from the gridlock. It wasn’t funny at the time, but I still laugh when I think about that milk shooting up and the Twinkie cream spilling out between his fingers.

- JG

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.