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.

AVOIDING CONTEMPT

Unfortunately, sometimes as law enforcement officials we even face negativity from officials. One night while working as a sergeant for the Highway Patrol in a very large city, I observed a car load of what appeared to be young gang members in a vehicle on the freeway. They were speeding and approached the rear of a vehicle being driven by a young woman. She was exiting the freeway, but not fast enough for them. The driver drove right up on her bumper, continued to flash his high beams and sounded the horn over and over. They eventually passed her and the driver and passengers yelled out the window and flipped her their middle fingers. I pulled in behind them and made a traffic stop. The driver was 16 years old and he had a belligerent attitude. I issued him a citation for following too closely and gave him a warning on all the other violations.

A couple of months later, he had a hearing at the juvenile court. His father was there with him. The regular judge was not in court, so an attorney acted as the Judge Pro-Tem for that day’s cases. I testified as to his driving actions, then the juvenile defendant testified. He told the judge that the woman cut him off and he did nothing wrong. He stated he was just minding his own business.

The judge then stated to the defendant, “Well, I believe you. I am going to dismiss your case.”

The judge then looked at me with a smile on his face and said, “What do you think of that, officer?”

I wanted to say, “Just remember that when it happens to your wife or daughter,” but I didn’t want him to find me in contempt.

I just replied, “It’s your courtroom, Your Honor.”

He had a surprised look on his face and replied, “Oh, thank you.”

— BS

YOU'RE FROM WHERE?

Just as an introduction, skywave or skip refers to radio waves that reflect back to earth and can sometimes be heard from far away like they are from a local radio station. When I first started hearing skip it reminded me of when I was stationed at Yakima Firing Center in Washington. Our tankers and artillery were having a lot of trouble with Daytona Beach, Fla. and we were blaming each other for using each other's frequency.

Years later, while working for the Corrections Department and patrolling the perimeter of the prison, the skip was really prominent. We could hear some southern police agencies over our state radios. The officers would talk over the radio without any call signs or badge numbers like they were on a telephone call. One morning, a dispatcher in Alabama came on and started giving an officer a call and the party’s address.

The officer responded, “I know where that is, and Luke probably beat the hell out of Maybel again.”

A few minutes later, the officer came back on the radio, and said, “Yup, Maybel is on her way to the hospital and Luke is on his way to jail.”

— CC

I JUST SHRUNK

Several years ago, I was working as a highway patrolman patrolling a major freeway when I had to stop all lanes of traffic due to wood that was scattered all over the freeway ahead of my location. In order to stop all lanes of traffic, I had to execute a “round robin.” A round robin is when a patrolman swerves back and forth across all lanes to keep the traffic behind him or her.

While I was swerving back and forth, I noticed one vehicle continued to pull in front of the other vehicles and pull to the side of my patrol vehicle. I cut him off each time, but he persisted in pulling next to my car. We recently had two motor officers shot on the freeway which killed one of them, so I started to think this guy may have had intentions to take me out. I continued to point for him to stay back. I was getting very concerned and angry. By the time my beat partner cleared the wood out of the lanes, I released the traffic, I went after him and pulled him over.

As I approached his car, I noticed he was an elderly man. I let out all my penned in energy and let him have it. I yelled at him and asked why he was driving like an idiot and pulling next to me so many times.

His eyes started to tear up as he looked at me and explained, “Officer, I saw you swerving from side to side and I thought something happened to you, so I was trying to use my car to buffer you to safety.”

I felt like a heel, and I’m sure I shrunk about five feet. I did my best to show him my new appreciation for his attempts before letting him leave.

— LG

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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