Editor's note: Cop Tales are true stories as told by law enforcement officers from all over the country. The stories are told in the first person.

One day, while working the early morning shift on a freezing morning in a patrol car, I was about to pass a Corvette when I noticed the driver’s window was down. I immediately thought it may be a stolen vehicle since there was no way someone would have their window down in that cold weather.

Then I noticed the passenger’s window was down as well. I knew right away what was going on. I stayed to the left of the ’Vette at 65 mph for several miles. The driver and passenger were shivering.

I got on my loudspeaker and said, “It sure is cold out here, huh?”

Both of them looked at me and shook their head “yes.” I went a few more miles, then asked, “I’ll bet you wish you didn’t have tinted windows, huh?” The driver looked at me, smiled and shook his “yes” once again.

I smiled back, sped up and took the next off-ramp without stopping him. I think he got the message.

— B.S.


It was about 3 a.m. on a Saturday in downtown Los Angeles and I was training a new officer. We were backed against the rear fence of a very well-known doughnut stand (made famous by the super-sized doughnuts on its roof), overlooking the freeway.

Our unit was strategically positioned alongside one of my academy classmates who was also training a new officer. We seasoned officers were standing outside our units with the obligatory cup of coffee in hand and one foot poised on the push bumpers, while our respective trainees sat in the patrol cars writing reports.

Our efforts to verbally solve all the problems of law enforcement were disturbed by a crashing noise to the side of the doughnut stand. We turned our attention in time to watch a midsized sedan finish bouncing over the curb and through a newspaper box (yes, this did happen way back in the day when there were newspaper vending boxes at doughnut shops).

The sedan driver must have recognized the surprise and shock on our faces, as he drove over to our parked cars and crawled out from behind the steering wheel. In his left hand was a California driver’s license which he extended to me as he asked, in Spanish, where his house was located.

My keenly honed powers of observation immediately detected an extremely strong odor of an alcoholic beverage and noted my newest acquaintance to be very unsteady on his feet.

Despite his best efforts to properly perform a series of basic balance and coordination tests, I was compelled to arrest the driver for driving under the influence. Although I did not know proper directions to the man’s house, I was perfectly prepared to find him a safe “home” for the night.

Oh, yes, I did finish my reports as my trainee was finishing his so we could “hit the streets again.”

— E.W.


While working narcotics in the mid-1980s, my partner and I arrested a woman several times for being under the influence of heroin. Her husband knew of a cocaine dealer that dealt in the kilo range.

We teamed up with other law enforcement agencies in the county since we would be dealing with huge amounts of drugs and serious dealers. We had an undercover officer go with the confidential informant (CI) to go buy two kilos.

Everything went really smooth as we served a warrant at a trailer park and confiscated five more kilos after the arrests.

That was around the time President Ronald Reagan bombed Libya, and Moammar Gadhafi was threatening our carriers in the Gulf of Sidra.

Some of the kilos we confiscated had photos of Gadhafi. One of the major Los Angeles news channels interviewed me on the arrest. I didn't know it at the time, but I later learned that the interview was also aired on a national TV broadcast.

My mother and older sister were watching it on the national show and suddenly realized that it was me on their television. My mother said that she was worried because the dealers would know what I looked like and could go after me.

However, my sister told her that I was wearing a fake mustache. That was enough for my mother to be relieved. (By the way, my mustache was real.)

— G.M.

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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