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.

You better have thick skin

It didn’t take me long to realize that if you are going to be a cop, you better have thick skin, or else you will never survive. I remember I won the Officer of the Year award for the highway patrol and I wore a suit to the ceremony. They took plenty of pictures of the event.

When the pictures were developed, my command posted my picture in that suit on the bulletin board. Within minutes, someone stapled a paper underneath my picture for comments. It sure didn’t take long for everyone to write down their thoughts. I can’t remember them all, but I do remember some of them: “I wonder how many polyesters they had to kill to make that suit,” and “Somewhere there is a Volkswagen Bug that is missing its seat covers.” The list went on and on.

On another occasion, I just started my shift and had just put on a new uniform. I stopped a vehicle for speeding. When I approached, there were three teenagers in the car. They were belligerent and kept chipping away at me with their disrespectful comments. I obtained the driver’s license and registration, stepped away from them and started to write the citation.

I figured I was getting the last laugh by issuing him a citation, but I guess I was wrong. Right in the middle of writing the citation, the automatic sprinklers of the front lawn I was standing on suddenly popped up and sprayed my uniform trousers. I quickly got off the lawn, but my pants were soaked. The guys in the car laughed hysterically. I am guessing it was worth the citation for them. Like I mentioned earlier, you better have thick skin on this job.

- BS

The greatest feeling in the world

Back in 2014, I was on patrol as a deputy when a frantic dispatcher had reported that a child had just been abducted from a convenient store near one of our lake communities. I was the closest unit, so I drove with my lights and siren as fast as I could. The caller couldn’t give dispatch a description of the man, but did advise that it was a blue panel van that sped away with an unknown Arkansas plate.

As I entered the freeway, I looked frantically on every side road that paralleled the freeway. I got lucky and saw the van matching the description coming towards me. When the driver passed by my vehicle and saw me, he had a startled look on his face. I made a quick U-turn and went after him.

A wildlife officer assisted me with stopping the van. I took the guy into custody and the wildlife officer rescued the little girl who was in the back of the van. As it turned out, the suspect was an unregistered sex offender from another state. He was just passing through our town when he stopped to get gas and noticed the little girl standing alone in the store. We found rope and duct tape in the back of his van. It was the greatest feeling in the world when we returned the little girl to her hysterical mother.

- DO

Let me think about it

While working for the highway patrol, my partner and I made a possible DUI stop for a vehicle that was weaving back and forth across the lanes. As we approached the vehicle, we could see the female in the right, front passenger seat was partially undressed. We figured that had something to do with his erratic driving. My partner took the male driver out of the car to conduct field sobriety tests. The man explained to him that he just reunited with his old girlfriend from 15 years ago. He advised he just picked her up at the airport and they had reservations at a nice hotel.

My partner arrested him and was about to place him in the backseat of the patrol car when the guy stated, “Look, I’ll admit that I am drunk. I don’t even care. I’m not going to resist or anything like that, but can I ask you a favor? Can we just stop at the hotel and you just let us enjoy some time alone together? We have been planning this time together for so long.”

My partner looked at me and said, “What do you think, should we let them?” I hesitated, and my partner and I looked around as though we were contemplating it, then after a few seconds I said, “Ummmmmmm, No.” He got a huge look of disappointment on his face like he really thought we were going to allow him to stop at the hotel. 

- TS

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

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