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.


One night while working graveyards with my partner for the Highway Patrol, we made a lane change and pulled in behind a newer Subaru wagon at a red light. The driver looked in his mirror, accelerated around the other cars and blew through the red traffic light. I didn’t even have any of my emergency lights activated. I then accelerated after him and chased him through a public housing development. While we were chasing him, we ran the license plate and it returned as a stolen vehicle. At one point, he took the corner too fast and he flipped the car over on its side. As we set up for a felony stop, he climbed out of the top window and took off running.

I ran after the suspect while my partner stayed with the vehicle. I yelled at him to stop. He turned around and yelled back that he wouldn't. We ran so far that at one point, I started to walk. He saw me walking, so he started to walk. When I would gain my energy and start running, he would start running. He even lost one of his shoes. As I rounded one of the buildings, I lost sight of him and didn’t know which direction he went. I looked up and there was a woman standing there. I asked her which direction he went. She pointed to the left. Something about the way she pointed and said, "that way”, I got the feeling she was lying. I went the opposite direction and sure enough, I saw him again. We continued for a long time, until he finally ran inside a building which was surrounded by a chain link fence. There was no way I was going to run into the building alone, so I dropped my shoulders and gradually walked back to the patrol car.

We had responding Highway Patrol and the local city police officers set up a perimeter and conducted a search. He was finally located hiding out and he was missing one sneaker. When I saw him in person, he had to be about 6-8. I remember looking at him and thinking that I was glad I didn’t catch him while I was alone.

— BS


One evening, as the watch commander of a 5,000-bed prison, I responded to a self-mutilation call. When I arrived on scene, I was advised a prisoner had successfully castrated himself with the lid of a tuna fish can. As we were preparing the prisoner for medical transport, the inmate explained he was close to his parole date. He advised us that God told him to perform the surgery so he could lead a sin free life.

Later that evening, we were preparing another prisoner for a medical transportation. I asked the prisoner his religious preference. He said, “The way God is talking to people tonight, put me down as an atheist.”

— GB


I was a deputy sheriff in a very large county. Due to a personnel shortage, we patrolled as one-deputy units and often times, covered several substations during a shift. If you needed back-up, help was 20 to 30 minutes away at Code 3, if a deputy or highway patrol unit was available. Your personal survival required you to be very self-sufficient.

One night on patrol, I drove down an alley behind some local businesses when I saw six male individuals trying to blend into the shadows. I coded off and made contact with the group. At that time, we didn’t have hand held radios. You needed to return to the patrol car to ask for assistance.

I lined the six of them up and proceeded to pat down the first subject. It was my preference to pat down a subject with their back to me. I reached around with my left hand and immediately felt a firearm in the subject’s left inner jacket. In a heartbeat, I knew I was in a very serious situation. The odds didn't favor me with six subjects, all of whom I considered armed at the time. I truly believed I would not be going home that night.

I quickly removed my sidearm and forcibly held it against him. I then said, "I bet this is the closest you've ever come to dying. Don't move!" It’s amazing how compliant someone becomes with a barrel of a gun pushed against them.

The situation was extremely tense. I felt the pressure of my finger increasing on the trigger. I reached inside his jacket with my other hand and retrieved a fully loaded, six inch .357 Ruger Blackhawk. I placed it in my waistband and proned the group out on the ground. I managed to cover them while I backed up to my patrol car to call for assistance. In about 15 minutes, I heard the sweet sound of sirens and knew the cavalry had arrived. I think I took a breath for the first time in 30 minutes.

— JR

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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