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.

I ALWAYS LISTENED TO MY FATHER

As a teenager, I grew up near Philadelphia watching CHiPs, the Dukes of Hazzard, and several other Hollywood television shows and movies. I never thought I would ever end up in California, or meet anyone famous. However, working for the Highway Patrol afforded me some great opportunities. I was an extra in the CHiPs ’99 movie and on the set of The Dukes of Hazzard Reunion show where I met all the cast members. I became good friends with Robert Pine, Erik Estrada, Charlie Napier, Ed Snider, Johnny Owens, and John Schneider. I was on three details with Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. I attended Nancy Reagan and Buck Owens’ funerals, and I had my picture taken inside the Space Shuttle Endeavor right after it landed. I always sent the pictures to my parents.

One day, my Dad showed the pictures of me with Wayne Gretzky, Charles Bronson, Taylor Swift, Buzz Aldrin, Crystal Gayle, the Beach Boys, and several others to his friend. The guy looked at the pictures and asked, “Yeah, but has he ever met Clint Eastwood?”

My Dad then told me I had to meet Clint Eastwood. A couple of weeks later, as a Captain, I had to go to a meeting with an Assistant Chief (GE), when I heard Clint Eastwood was in town. The Assistant Chief and I went to see him. When we arrived, Mr. Eastwood actually saw us and approached. We spoke for quite a while. He was very friendly and a great guy. Of course, I had to get our picture taken. I sent it to my father and he wasted no time showing his friend. Of course, I always did as my father said.

— B.S.

HE WAS NEVER THE SAME

I have been a Highway Patrol volunteer for over 18 years. During my second or third year, we were requested to help out at a large air show on a summer weekend. Another volunteer and I reported to the office very early on that Sunday morning and were ready to lend assistance to those who needed food, drinks or rest periods at the air show. We were supposed to team up with a specific officer, but he was reassigned to another detail before we left the office. I really wanted to be with that officer because he was a dedicated, experienced officer who was motivated and cared about his job.

When we returned to the office, we found out that it was a good thing we were not assigned to him. During his shift, he received a call from his mother informing him that his father had fallen ill and would not let her call an ambulance. She did not know what to do. The officer immediately responded to his parents’ house and took his father to the hospital. Unfortunately, his father suffered a cardiac arrest right there in the car. His son used every skill he knew, but his father could not be saved. It was very upsetting to all of us.

A few years later, this officer came off the road and began an assignment in the office. He stopped showing the spark he had displayed for so many years when he was a training officer and a runner in the Army marathon in Washington D.C. Shortly after that, his wife woke up and noticed that he did not wake up their daughter for school and his car was still in the driveway. She then looked outside and saw a bunch of emergency vehicles in front of the park next to their home. She ran to the scene only to find out that her husband, our officer, had taken his life. Many people said he never got over the loss of his father or his guilt for not being able to do more to help him.

His death came and went and we all grieved for him. His mother writes on his Legacy page every Christmas, every year on his birthday, and sometimes on the anniversary of his death. I will always miss him.

— E.W.

A HUGE BREAK

In 1979, I paced and stopped a vehicle that was going 100 mph on a Los Angeles freeway. He was driving a super, cherry red, 68 El Camino, which just happened to be one of my favorite cars. I looked back at my Dodge 440 patrol vehicle and there was smoke billowing out from the engine compartment. It had bad U-joints, it was over-heated and had many other problems. Our office had the worst motor vehicle maintenance record in the state. I was frustrated with my vehicle.

I approached the driver and obtained his license and registration and returned to my vehicle to run his information. Everything returned clear, so I walked back up and returned his license and registration to him. He turned to look at me like he was ready to sign the ticket. I looked at him and sternly stated, “Now, don’t do that again.” I walked back to my patrol car and drove away without giving him a ticket. I drove a mile to the over crossing and could see he was still stopped. It probably took him a while to get over the fact he was given a warning for driving 100 mph. I’ll bet he told that story 100 times and no one believed that he didn’t get a ticket.

— T.P.

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.

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