Brian Smith

Brian Smith

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.

While working alone as a sergeant on the graveyard shift in a large city, I attempted to stop a stolen vehicle when it failed to yield. The vehicle accelerated away at high speeds. Due to the early morning, there was hardly any traffic. We continued at high speeds as the driver made several evasive maneuvers. I managed to stay up with him until he drove into an empty parking garage. I chased him to the top until he stopped his car, jumped out and ran to the other side of the structure. I advised dispatch of my location and ran after him.

It appeared as though he jumped over the four-foot wall onto the next rooftop. I continued in full stride and started to jump over the wall when my sixth sense stopped me in mid-stride. When I looked over the wall, I realized there was not a rooftop.

If I continued to jump over the wall, I would have dropped several stories to my death. I just stood there as I realized how close I was to going over that wall. I never figured out how the suspect got away. I recovered the stolen vehicle for the owners and said a lot of appreciative prayers as I drove away.

- BS

But, I captured them

In 1974, I was patrolling the interstate freeway for the highway patrol when I turned through the center divider to go after a speeding vehicle. I was closing in on the speeder when I saw a U-Haul truck stopped on the other side of the freeway. I saw a young man behind the truck frantically waving at me. I observed a male behind the steering wheel, a woman in the center, and a male in the right front seat.

I stopped and wrote a ticket to the speeder, then I returned to the location of the U-Haul. When I arrived, only the male who had been waving at me was still there. He related he was hitchhiking to Los Angeles when the three of them stopped in the U-Haul and offered him a ride. He advised that occurred just over the state line. When they got into our state, they stopped the truck and told him to give them his backpack or they would beat him to death. He gave them all of his belongings.

I immediately drove west and told dispatch to notify the highway patrol units west of my location to be on the lookout for the U-Haul truck. I eventually met up with the other patrolman who advised he did not see the U-Haul. I then thought about the only place they could have turned off the freeway. I raced back to that off-ramp and drove two miles before I observed the U-Haul stuck in the sand. I had a feeling they would cross a perimeter fence at a certain location, so I set up there and waited. Sure enough, the three of them crossed in front of my location. I zoomed in on them and proned them out in the sand at gunpoint. They were taken to the county jail. The story didn’t end there.

I found out the driver had been arrested, tried and convicted in Washington, D.C., of burglarizing a federal building and fled before sentencing. The other male had escaped from a state prison in Mississippi and the female had just accepted a ride and didn’t know the two other men. The driver had also told his neighbor in D.C. that he would help her move to her new residence.

After they loaded all her belongings in the U-Haul, they started to drive when he stopped, and kicked her out of the truck. He kept her purse and sold her belongings as he traveled across the country. Two FBI agents arrived to pick up the two fugitives. I had a great feeling of accomplishment until the newspaper came out and the headlines read, “FBI Captures Cross Country Criminals.” There wasn’t even a mention of me or the highway patrol.

- DH

On the other side of the red light

In 1959, I was a senior in high school and was engaged to my boyfriend who was three years older. I was always a good girl who never got into any trouble, but my mother was overprotective. One Saturday morning, my boyfriend and I decided to go to Disneyland. I knew my mother would never let me go, so we cooked up a story that we were going over to his family’s home to spend the day playing games and having a barbecue. We drove off and were excited about our adventure.

My boyfriend’s car was very distinctive (a cool '55 Chevy with a very distinctive bronze color). He was very careful to watch his speed, so you can imagine our surprise when a highway patrol car came up behind us and turned on his red light. We pulled over right away as we wondered what we did wrong. The officer did not ask my boyfriend for his license. He looked straight at me and asked, “Are you Sharon?” I told him yes and he said, “Your mother wants you to go home right now.”

I was so upset and embarrassed and wondered how my mother figured it out. When we got home, I asked her how she knew. She replied, “When you guys left the house, you went in the opposite direction of his house. I knew you weren’t going to his house for a BBQ.” By the way, my boyfriend and I did eventually get married and we had three wonderful children.

- SG

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