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COP TALES: Thanks for the help

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.

Thanks for the help

While working a relatively quiet afternoon patrol shift in the southwest part of a large city, toward the end of my shift, I started driving slowly to the station. Frequently, near the end of shift is when things go from quiet to chaos.

Suddenly, a car passed by me in the opposite direction at a high rate of speed. I quickly made a U-turn and began to pursue the vehicle. After a short distance, the car slowed and both the male driver and female passenger exited and began running into a field of farmland. The car, still moving at a slow speed, rolled backward into the curb and stopped. I radioed for additional patrol units. When I searched the vehicle, I found a baby strapped into a car seat in the back seat. It turned out the car was just stolen from an outlying city with the victim’s baby inside.

The male driver was quickly located by perimeter units, but the female could not be found. The baby was uninjured and was taken care of by other officers. I began a search for the female with a canine officer and his Belgian Malinois. As we walked along a drainage ditch, the canine alerted and the handler pointed into the dirty water and said, “She’s right there.”

I had to look twice, but our suspect was lying on her back with only her mouth and nose exposed from the water. She had also placed a large tumbleweed over the top of her. The dirty wet suspect was taken into custody without incident. I do not believe we would have located this suspect without the keen senses of the canine and her handler.

- MW

Good work

In the mid 1980s, a fellow officer contacted a man walking down an alley. The man was carrying a TV. It was obvious the TV was stolen, but there was no record of it being reported stolen at that time. The officer took the man to jail for unrelated charges. The TV was seized and booked into the property room.

A couple of hours later, I was dispatched to a burglary report at an apartment that was a couple of blocks away from where the other officer had stopped the man. The victims advised that someone stole their TV.

During my investigation, the victim told me that she had left her front porch light on, but when she came home it was off. I checked and the bulb had been partially unscrewed. So I fingerprinted the light bulb and got a good print. I submitted the print to our crime lab. Guess what? The crime lab tech confirmed the print taken off the light bulb matched the fingerprint of the man in the alley with the TV. The suspect went to prison for residential burglary and the victim got her TV back.

- BR

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